On my daughters fourteenth birthday
My girl. On your 14th birthday. Thank you. Being your Mother has taught me everything that is important to know.
Waiting for you taught me about longing, about wanting something so much you don’t know if you can live without it. It taught me surrender and acceptance and then you taught me joy.
Being pregnant with you my life changed, I made so many friends that I love today, I learnt about a woman’s power, about choice about consent.
Your birth was hard and I learnt stamina and pain and the amazement of recognition of another soul grown in your body.
It changed the course of my life, led me to a love of research and my work now in Public health, and of supporting other people’s journeys to parenthood through being a doula.
Learning how to be a mother, to be in relationship with another person, unconditional love that is bottomless and ever expanding. Being a home to someone, physically and emotionally, being a safe place of succour and life, giving more.
How to grit your teeth and keep breastfeeding, swearing through pain, because damn it I was going to do this, and the ease of feeding once we got through the early days, learning what you liked as a person (being rocked in the baby chair so hard it was like a roller coaster and being upright all the time). The contentment of knowing this was the only important thing I needed to do at this time, to nurture this person. Being in a physical relationship of the comfort of anothers body and learning how to let others rest in you.
Bravery to embody my choices with joy, to mother by living my life with you in it, learning yes I could take babies to festivals, parties, travelling.
Supporting other mothers and fathers walk the path, realising the absolute importance of friendship and comradeship through life.
And as you grew you taught me so much about letting go, giving space to another to evolve and become themselves
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
Khahil Gibran on Children
I am so proud of the person you are becoming, the woman you are growing up to be. Sharing life with me, always resilient and courageous, no nonsense, a wonderful big sister, picking up the slack when I need help. Working together as a family through our life.
Excerpt from a poem I wrote about my girl a few years ago:
I can’t write a poem about my girl,
She’s too big for the page,
She’d argue with everything I wrote down
Stick out her pointy little chin
And karate chop me.
Or cover me in glittery lip gloss kisses.
Her tight brown silky ringlets bouncing,
Eyes like melted chocolate covered daggers,
Skin a creamy frappuccino.
It only seems like yesterday she was born, stargazing,
Stubborn from the start.
When you were two you led a troop of toddlers across the field of Africa Oye
To the ice cream van,
You held out your warm, grubby, empty little hand
And like a miracle,
He handed out each of you an ice cream:
You knew he would,
Your will could move mountains.
Shaking your booty to 4Music
Singing your heart out to R n B tunes,
Wanting to know where your brown mother is.
Sorry huni, there’s just me…
I have previously discussed some of the issues which complicate the discourse around ‘normal’ birth’ and ‘safe’ birth and the concept of risk.
The term ‘normal’ is problematic as it has social meaning (i.e what is usual) and also that what is not ‘normal’ is ‘abnormal’ .
I prefer to use the term ‘physiological’ which means the usual fuctioning of a living organism.
There is current discussion on the push for ‘normasl’ birth and to reduce the CS rate and/or unneccessary interventions.
This is a complex issue, there is still much to learn about how and why risk status changes during the birth process and when it is necessary to intervene to prevent risk.
For my Masters in Public health dissertation I was interested in the differences in post birth condition of mothers and babies after vaginal births with and without common interventions.
For this I used the current definition of ‘Normal birth’ (from http://www.birthchoiceuk.com/Professionals/BirthChoiceUKFrame.htm?http://www.birthchoiceuk.com/Professionals/statistics.htm )
women have a “normal birth” if they do not have any of the following procedures:
- induction of labour (with prostaglandins, oxytocics or ARM)
- epidural or spinal
- general anaesthetic
- forceps or ventouse
- caesarean section
I looked at ‘The Incidence of Women giving birth in Liverpool in 2005-07 having a ‘Physiological Birth’ as compared to ‘Normal Births’ and ‘Cephalic Vertex Births’: Are there differences in health outcomes for mothers and babies by type of birth?’. This was a quantitative hospital-based cross-sectional study using delivery records’ data available at Liverpool Women’s Hospital (LWH). All birth records with a gestation of 37-42 weeks from 01.01.2005 to 31.12.2007 were obtained for mothers who gave birth to live singleton infants and whose delivery records had been entered on the hospital database (13, 963 Vaginal births)
I presented my results at the ‘Normal Birth confernce in 2009.
The incidence of physiological birth in Liverpool in 2005-07 was 24.5%
19.1% of women having their first baby had a physiological birth.
Physiological birth was associated with-
- Greater odds of breastfeeding after delivery and on discharge
- Lower odds of having a post partum hemorrhage
- Lower odds of having a perineal tear
- Lower odds of babies being born in a compromised condition
The powerpoint I prsented at the conference with the full results is attached below. This data is currebntly unpublished although I have been working on a journal article for some time.