A few years ago, in my life b.c. (before children) I traveled through Indonesia. As I traveled, I had many opportunities to observe the people there. What struck me most deeply was how women lived together in support of each other. They raised the children together, they did the laundry together, they cooked, ate, laughed and celebrated together.
Years later, I became a mother. I live alone in a house. I do my laundry alone, I cook, clean and go through my day alone. Yes, I have the children, but a child is not the greatest conversationalist. I am alone. A lot.
I believe we are doing this all wrong. I believe that there is a reason why so many people feel depressed, isolated and lonely. Because we are alone. Because we are not surrounded by our mothers, aunts, cousins, and friends as we go about the tedious tasks that make up almost every minute of our days as a mother.
Somehow, our culture came to this place where most of our social life is about our children. We go to playgroups, storytime, or music class to help our children’s “development”. Not that this isn’t a worthwhile goal. I’m all for it. But when is it about Mama and her needs?
When it comes time to have a playdate, we take a shower, stress about the house being picked up and make snacks. We hang out with our guests trying to feel relaxed while in the back of our mind we are thinking about all of the things that need to get done. Then after our guests leave, we madly rush about trying to make up for lost time. No wonder we rarely make the effort. We just stay lonely.
So what do we do about this? I believe that we change the way it’s done. How about instead of playdates, we make workdates? I would like to feel OK about asking my friends over and folding my laundry, cooking together, working in the garden together while our kids play; without us watching over them the whole time to make sure they are “getting along”. They’ll work it out. We have work to do and talking to be done without interruption, please!
We keep the world running, and I would like it to be more enjoyable. I would like to do it together; not alone. The kids will love being left to their own devices a little bit more. Now that’s a playdate!
I believe that how we are doing things now is not the way it is supposed to be. I don’t want to depend on my email and Facebook to feel a vague sense of cyber-connection to other people. It just doesn’t feel right. I don’t know how we got here. I do know that I want it to change. I believe we can change it if we want to. We just have to figure out how to make it happen—then do it!
Chauntelle is the mama of two young girls, a yoga instructor, scientist, thinker, planner, radical homemaker, and a Mama Says Board Member.
Jane Lowell McCarthy Greene was born to Tom and Tia on July 22 at 1:40 pm at 27 weeks gestation. Her father Tom said, “She is tiny, but she’s a fighter.” Jane lived 6 months and 6 days to the minute of her birth. In those 6 months she grew, played, and nursed. She was a sibling and she knew love: love of her family, love of her friends and love from people that had never met her or her family. In those months I also grew to love Jane. I read Tia’s blog and thought daily of my dear friend. I tried to wrap my head around how life can be so…so…not right.
It was 4:45 pm when I read Tia’s entry that Jane had died. I sat down and cried. I called my husband and left a message, then called my Mother and we cried together. Afterwards I thought, “What now? What should I do? What is enough or too much? What will help? What will hurt?”
I know that Jane Was Here, but not long enough. I know that the medical world tried, but it was not enough. I also know that there was enough love, but even all this love could not save Jane. I hope that this love is enough for Tom and Tia and big sister Sarah. That it helps make their days a little less painful and brings a little more light.
I believe that I will never understand it nor will I “get it”. Sometimes life is just not right. It will never be what it should have been. I will continue to try and be the best friend that I can for Tia and I will continue to be humbled by her grace, tact, and her incredible “humanness” in handling the loss of her daughter. I will continue to embrace the memory of Jane and to honor her life.
So this is what I believe: I believe that life can change with every breath we take and that every day that Tia, Tom and Sarah had with Jane was not enough. I believe that finding grace in life “not being right” is the gift that Jane has left for me.
Susan Paris is the mother of two boys, an RN at Copley Hospital Birthing Center, and a Mama Says Board Member. She is a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, martini drinking mama.
I recently ran into a dear friend who is pregnant and struggling to make a decision regarding her prenatal care and place of birth. She may have to forego plans for a homebirth because of financial limitations because insurance does not cover prenatal care with a homebirth midwife or the option of birthing at home. Her homebirth would cost around $4,000, which she would have to pay out of pocket, while her insurance would pick up every cent of a $10,000+ hospital birth.
I firmly believe, without a shred of doubt or waiver, that every single woman who desires true midwifery care, including a birth at home, has the right to this option, regardless of financial capacity. I believe that the midwifery model of care should be readily available and should be the norm. Insurance companies should cover midwifery care without a second thought. Not only would they save thousands of dollars per birth, but there are countless other health benefits to using midwives, including increased rates of breastfeeding which lower healthcare costs dramatically over time. Countries who embrace this model of care more vigorously than in the U.S. have dramatically lower rates of infant and maternal mortality. The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section. The Midwives Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.
Thankfully, there are some insurance plans, including the state insurance plan for low to medium income families, that do cover a portion of the cost of midwifery care and homebirth in our area. This needs to continue and we need to advocate for all insurance companies to cover midwives providing home birth care so everyone may have the option of midwifery care.
I believe true midwifery care is far superior to the standard obstetrics or hospital nurse-midwifery care available today. This opinion is based on my experience as a doula and childbirth advocate, and my personal birth experiences have shaped my beliefs in profound ways.
I will never forget the hour-long prenatal exams with my midwife Bonne Dunham that covered my baby's physical health and my well being, while also going over my fears, hopes, and concerns. When she arrived for our birth, I felt her strong and reassuring presence. Under her care, I pushed my baby out and immediately pulled her up on my chest, and was the first one to touch and hold her. Bonne gently checked on my baby’s vital signs while she was cuddled in my arms, and we let the cord stop pulsing before cutting it so she got every last drop of what was rightfully hers. Then there were the postpartum visits that occurred one day after the birth, then on the third day, one week, three weeks and six weeks. I felt fully cared for. I cried, laughed, and was supported wholeheartedly through the enormous transition both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There were certainly hard parts about my births, but there was peace, light, and love that lingered and surrounded us even in the darkest times thanks to the reassurance, confidence, and skill of my midwife.
Every woman and every birth is so different. For some women, homebirth might not be the best option, but every woman deserves the education and information to make an informed decision. I believe that money should never stand in the way of a woman seeking true midwifery care for her pregnancy and birth. This is my unwavering belief.
Sarah is the home birthing, cloth diapering, breastfeeding mama of Aliyah and Noah. She is a doula, community organizer, and a Mama Says Board Member.