February is such a special time for my family as are all birthdays. However, in February we have a birthday almost every day! For the past 10 years I have asked my mother what her birth story was and have also sat with my sisters and talked about their experiences. Every person and every birth are unique and every time you have the time and space to process and talk about those experiences, we continue to heal from it. Healing happens physically, emotionally, spiritually and generationally.
How we treat a family during their birth experience is going to impact their lives forever and that of their children. It is important for us to continue to respect this time and space and return to our sacred ways of bringing life Earth side. We each get to decide what is sacred to us and how we want to move forward with our birth experiences and when things do not go as planned for whatever reason, ensuring we have the right support system.
My mom shares she did not have the most ideal birthing experience, but she is grateful we were all born healthy, and she was able to come home with us. I have been able to ask her better formatted questions to be able to dive into her experience and I will be sharing pieces with you all of what she has shared.
Today, I want to talk about who my mother is and how she found out she was pregnant.
My mother's name is Graciela, she was born in Mexico City, Mexico and came to the U.S with her mother and grandparents with the Brasero program in the early 60's. My mother is the eldest daughter of 4 and she had her first daughter in 1983 and completed her family in 1997 with her 5th daughter.
When my mother was pregnant with me, she had a 12yr old, an 8yr old, and a 6yr old in addition to a business of her own. Her store was called La Canasta (The Basket), it was a small but successful store which she does not remember how she got it started. As a business owner myself, I am always intrigued with how she managed to have a successful establishment and when I ask the business questions, she doesn't remember clearly.
BUT this story isn't about the business...
Although being a business owner and having a growing family did impact my mother's experience a bit. She was definitely not expecting me as her youngest at the time was 6 yrs. old. She thought she was done having children, but she had me and my younger sister still completing her family with 5 daughters.
Some people actively try to expand their families, and others have surprise pregnancy, regardless of how the family grows there is always the finding out portion of the experience.
Do you remember what it was like when you found out you were pregnant? With any of your pregnancies?
My mom shares with me that she never took a home pregnancy test with any of my sister or me. My older sister was 6 at the time and my parents were not trying to conceive. She wasn't feeling too well and decided to go to the doctor. At her appointment they suggested to do a pregnancy test. My mom thought they were crazy, and when her test came back positive, she broke down. She was not expecting me at all.
She shared the news with my father, and they decided to keep this pregnancy and agreed to simply figure it out and welcome me with open hearts and arms. This is a very big reality check in modern society, can we afford to have another child? Do I have the capacity to care for another being? Many people ask themselves these questions and have to actively work to be prepared for their new addition, while some families are blessed with the resources to not have to worry about an addition to their family.
Since this was not her first pregnancy, she knew what to expect and begin her routine checkups with her primary care provider. As with her previous pregnancy she developed gestational diabetes and was induced at 37 weeks of pregnancy.
I wonder however what her experience would have been like during her first pregnancy. Not knowing what to expect, and what if she did not have the resources to care for a child. What do the families do today when they are lost on such a new path of pregnancy. Traditionally we lived in communities, our mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and neighbors helped us out when we needed it, and we knew we could count on them. Today we live in an individualistic society and having community to support us during difficult times especially during pregnancy and postpartum is rare and few.
My mother had my father's siblings around and my aunts accompanied her during birth and my uncles drove her to the doctor when she couldn't do it herself and my father was not available. But what do we do when we do not have that support?
We have to build our own community and get people on our team so that when we need help, we know who to call. With this in mind I have created a resource list for all of you. A list of birth workers, body workers, and so much more for you to have access to your community. I have also created a FB group for mothers to connect with others who have at least 2 things in common; 1) They have children around the same age. 2) They have received support from Tia Jasmin of Oxomohco for at least 1 service.
Motherhood is not a place for us to be in alone. Our partners support in all the ways that they can but it is crucial for everyone health for us to have more people supporting us. Becoming a parent for the first time is hard and not knowing what to expect any step of the way or having someone to simply vent to can be even harder.
I encourage you to connect with others and make your village. It sounds very cliche, "it takes a village," but it is so true! You need a break from time and time and when you have more than one child it is a very different ball game.
I strive to provide the resources and support my mother and sisters wish they had, and I hope my work reaches the families in need.
Below you will see an image of me with my mother in 2021 celebrating my birthday. She wore my favorite color on this day, and we had to capture the moment. We enjoyed some coffee in downtown Gilroy and talked about her birth experience. Throughout the years she has also shared her experience with my sisters. her 5 births tend to blur at times, and she clarifies to me that she isn't sure of this happened with me or one of my sisters. You may see that many times throughout the stories.