Saturday, January 07, 2006

Back In Tha Saddle Again

For the time being I've left off with the continued building of my main site In the meantime, welcome to my pregnancy and birthing blog One Tenacious Baby Mama. In September I decided to conceive my second, but probably not my last baby with my ever present and supportive hetero male partner papi.

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)

For instance,
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:
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.
So, that's all for now. Feel free to visit my mainsite, to find out more about me, my militant mama work, my writing and artwork and my other interests. For now, this is me signing off.

T.J. Bryan aka Tenacious One

if, by chance you're following the shmolian's middle passage birthphotolog...this is part II


Momma Michelle said...

i have to say i am in tears reading this because i feel a connection to your words that has been elusive to me since becoming a mom. my mind is ready to think about the greater existance and how i see it as mama (giving birth to my son in a lot of ways gave birth to me) than just getting through the first year of adjustment to my son's life. i think i'll start here. thanx for reaching out to me on HM... i did feel alone and misunderstood by many mamas there (not all of-course) and have been looking for other radical mamas who i can learn with and from.

Dark Daughta said...

Yeah, for me, I found that I was struggling for years to make particular connections in my life and in my politics that really made sense. I had access to a lot of information, but I did't have access to the support and couldn't/wouldn't support myself. I think that I really wanted the cameraderie of other wimmin who were doing the same sort of personal work (therapy) and political work as a Black dyke feminist writer. When I got pregnant, a lot of things became really clear for me, people moved closer or away really clearly. I had to take stock and I did because my life and my daughter's life depended on my making sense of what was happening around me. Thankfully I had been developing my political view points for quite some time and I had lots of emotional and political language to describe what I was encountering as my pregnancy progressed. I wrote, not because I had energy, but becaus I wanted to live so desperately and if I didn't have places to put out words, I would have died, either fer real, or just in the brain,a mama doing laundry, changing diapers, working, watching tv, eating junk food, going to playgroup, gossiping, menstruating, complaining about feeling ugly and talking about alternative parenting while feeling isolated and cut off from myself.

I'm sorry that you've felt so alone at hm. I know that it may seem scary to actaully ask the questions you want to and to be confronted with the possibility that you already know the answers, but that the people you rely on for daily mamacontact my not be happy with the answers you come up with. But won't your answers leave you feeling more at peace with you?

Anyway, you know where to reach me if you decide that the world is bigger than hm and you are bigger than hm.

Momma Michelle said...

Yeah, I fell into that brain dead place for a while - and think it was actually needed. Lately my mind is finding a path and I’m making more effort to connect with others on a similar road. I feel your words and I don't know what this says about me (maybe a little evil - hehe) but I thought throwing a grenade on hm was kinda amusing. I’m tiered of getting upset because I feel so misunderstood there - and again, not by everyone. But that is the way of any online message board with no real focus or direction to attract certain topics/discussions. I still like hm, but not for the same reasons I did when I first had Max. I’m not sure where my political path as mama will take me (other than being a doula, childbirth educator, and mama writer). But, after a year of adjusting to my new responsibility, I’m ready to be on this road.

barb said...

wow, that is so interesting. As a white woman who's never had children and isn't planning on it anytime soon I had't really thought much about birth/baby stuff in general, much less in regards to what's available for women of color. I just happened to read Naomi Wolf's book Misconceptions though, only because a friend of mine picked it up randomly at a yardsale and left it on my doorstep (I have weird friends). Anyway, despite not really having any personal connections with babies and childbirth I read the book and couldn't put it down. I thought it was really interesting how much mistruths there apparently exist about the whole birth experience. Even though it's pretty much written from a white woman's perspective, maybe you want to check it out, if you haven't already? It's very critical of the ways our society looks at pregnant women, the way the health care system processes them, the way the whole thing plays into gender roles... I mean, I don't know 'cause all this isn't really my area but I'd like to hear what you think of it.

On another note, sometimes when we encounter a dearth of written experience those of us who are writers need to consider filling that gap ourselves.... so I guess I just wanna ask, are you considering it? You're obviously a good writer...

Cheeks Filibuster said...

Hello, Darkdaughta, I like what you're doing with your blog and with your approach to motherhood. I have a friend who, 8 years ago when she was pregnant, was looking for better obstetrics (healthier nutrition, alternatives, education, etc.) in the healthcare system and lamenting about its lack thereof. Netsurfing was not that popular back then, and she had health issues that required OHIP-style care, so she had to settle for wonder-bread care (I mean this as an analogy to the colorless and bad nutrition approach).

Well, anyway her daughter is healthy and sharp, with eyes that glow, and alot has to do with my friend's attention to organic foods, restricted TV, and other things she educated herself about.

I really just wanted to comment on how much I appreciate your blog, and also to say I believe I've seen you perform spoken word at a poetry festival (I'm from Toronto)and you were really good (the crowd went mad).

Thanks for this, your first post, I am linking you to my blog.