Luckily the program for teen moms in my area makes a lot of this possible and I don't need to arrange all of the logistics. This past Thursday we started our 7-week childbirth classes. The class is actually much smaller than usual, with only 7 or 8 teen moms (and 13 doulas-in-training!). I was hoping to get matched up with one of the girls as a mentor but alas they're aren't enough to go around. Pumpkin did get matched and I'm very happy for her. She is the type of person that needs a connection to make it real.
The first session was more of a meet and greet with paperwork so it wasn't much fun, however next week we get our actual childbirth educator. This morning I went to a 3 hour breast feeding class. Most teens don't breastfeed and while its not our job to persuade them it is our job to support them in their decision and to give them the information they need to make that decision. The discussion today brought back many memories for me. I loved breastfeeding but was not well supported. It came very easy to me, so all of the problems I heard about today were surprising. However I weaned Angel at 4 months even though I didn't really want to and I've always regretted that decision. I had been back to work for 2 months by then and had no support for pumping and storing in the office. It seemed like I was making things worse for all three of us (me, Angel and his dad who was home with him during the day). When I made the decision I was under the impression I'd have at least one more child and thought I'd be in a different position when that happened (one that supported breastfeeding). Unfortunately that never materialized.
I thought I'd share this poem by Sharon Olds on childbirth. Its been on my mind with all that I hear and see in these trainings.
The Language of the Brag
I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw,
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the centre of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.
I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.
I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around
my belly big with cowardice and safely,
my stool black with iron pills,
my huge breasts oozing mucus,
my legs swelling, my hands swelling,
my face swelling and darkening, my hair
falling out, my inner sex
stabbed again and again with terrible pain like a knife.
I have lain down.
I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and feces and water and
slowly alone in the centre of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.
I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,
I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.