In my quest to create a whole radical Black girl nation all on my own, we started trying to conceive exactly four days before my regular ovulation day.
Ovulation is a very precise thing for me as I actually feel the release of the egg as a sizeable twinge during my cycle. So, it was pretty easy this time around to back track from my predicted day of ovulation to the time all going net info told me I should be trying if I wanted another girl.
Et voiLA! I was with child.
So, I'm in the second trimester and reading everything I can get my hands on that has to do with pregnancy, birth, gentle birth, home birth, unassisted birth, herbology. As the mother of one four year old girl, I also continue to read about attachment parenting, radical education, homeschooling and politicized parenting.
I've got info on Gloria Lemay, Leilah McCracken, Laura Shanley, Leboyer, Odent, Midwifery Today, Radical Midwives and a whole lot more, too. The reason for this site: Reading information about pregnancy, birth has blown my mind. However, there are a few things I've noticed (well, "noticed" is an understatement as these things are so glaring, anyone would be hard pressed to miss it)
The absolute shortage of information about Black women, natural childbirth, home birth, unassisted birth, etc. Most sites have copious images of white wimmin giving birth to white babies. Most Birth care, doula care, midwifery, birth and pregnancy paraphranelia sites centralize images of white babies, children, families. I've been lucky to find a few scattered images pf wimmen of colour or mixed race wimmin -- light coloured women with corksrew curls or straight hair and their children who don't actually reflect me, my daughter or my chosen family.
In 1851 Sojourner Truth, the dark-skinned African-American mother of 13 children who freed hundreds of Black, African slaves, asked a convention of white women: "Ain't I a Woman?"
Over one hundred years later, I'm forced to ask: "Ain't I a Mama?"
Aren't Black women mothers? Aren't we good mothers? Aren't we interested in having the births we envision? Aren't we dedicated to births without genital and uterine mutilation? Aren't we interested in not raising drug addicted children whose first experiences of drug induced "euphoria" are at birth? Aren't we interested in births and lives without violence? Aren't we interested in finding better educational options for our children? Aren't we interested in questioning the status quo?
Seems to me that Black women actually shout aloud all these very questions through our daily acts of resistance, through our collective and historical struggles, by by our very drawing of air to breathe. We resist. And so, I resist the unicultural, white defined expression of birthing wimmin's resistance online by inserting my(Black Mama Goddess)self and any Black women specific research I find into the picture for any other lefty Black woman to google whenever she pleases.
For instance, every birthing woman, pregnant woman online resource that carries midwifery organization information should have a link to the Internation Center For Traditional Childbearing, a non-profit African centered organization located in Portland, Oregon. ICTC was created to promote the health of women and their families and to train Black women aspiring to become midwives.
Or, why is there so much information about birthing practitioners who can only trace their histories and herstories back a few decades, when there is so much herstorical evidence of Black midwives dating back to the slave ships who brought expertise with them when they were forced to travel over from Africa to north america on the slave ships. The names of these wimmin aren't as legendary and widely known as the famous white practitioners and theoreticians I've named up above. I understand why. Do you?
Another layer of meaning...
Even as I ask - Ain't I a Mama? Ain't I a GOOD Mama? - and speak of being a Black woman. I know that there's more to me, still. More that informs my self-perception and my mamawork.
I know that I have a responsibility to dig deeper.
Who is a good mother?
What does she look like?
How does she dress?
What does she do with her spare time?
How does she sex?
Who does she have that sex with...
IF she wants to maintain the sterling rep and title of "Good Mother".
On simultaneously being and not being a good mother...
I mentioned up above that my partner is heterosexual and male. I'm queer and lived as an out lesbian for most of my twenties right into my early thirties. I just turned 38, so the testosterone, sperm, man and baby thing is that new for me. So, when I talk resistance and mamahood, I'm also thinking about the amount of sites I've found dedicated to birth and pregnancy, "the husband and wife way", "the male and female way".
As a polyamorous mama, someone who believes it's possible to parent effectively and have more than one sexual partner, I'm thinking about the ways that the legitimacy and validity of of a child's entry into the world is defined not just by their parents' heterosexuality, but also by their mother's "fidelity" and their parents' the monogamy, as well.
Fascinating how many pregnant mothers quote Ina Mae Gaskin, promote The Farm, it's style of midwifery and it's birthing legacy while completely blanking if not at least side-linging the fact that her people were and probably still are to some extent non-monogamous people who seemed to believe in something other than the traditional husband/wife dyadic coupling.
I'm thinking about the fact that as I search for pure information about birth, wimmin's experiences of pregnancy and labour, about birthing tools and equipment, precious little of it hasn't been tainted by the assumption that all birthing wimmin are monogamous, heterosexual, married and ready to push out "their husband's child".
I know I'm pretty much screaming "Ostracize me!" from any online birthing communities and ignore my work/words by refusing to comprehend any sort of mama critique simultaneously including Blackness, queerness, non-monogamies, pregnancy, birthing and homebirth all in one. But that's my life.
All this to say...
What this blog will not do:
Define pregnancy or birth the result of a "perfect" god-mandated, heterosexual, monogamous love between a man and a woman.
What this blog will attempt:
- To show complex signs and indicators of (my mothering) life
- To add to the information already published online in a way that appeals to anyone interested in pregnancy and birth while deconstructing the whole white mother and child as birthing, pregnancy and mother/child relationship epitome, father as child and woman owner patriarchal paradigm so prominent in most of the sites I visit.
- I want to include my birth plan, which is fairly hefty, since I'm verbose and very anal.
- I'd also like to talk about my visits to see the midwives and about why I chose midwifery and a homebirth over the OB and the hospital.
- I want to download my belly pictures and pictures of my birth.
- I also want to see if there'll be anyway to include the video papi will hopefully shoot at the time of the birth, as well.
T.J. Bryan aka Tenacious One
if, by chance you're following the shmolian's middle passage birthphotolog...this is part II