Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

Labor Day has taken on a completely new meaning for me this year. I’m four weeks away from my due date (more or less) and taking all necessary steps to prepare myself to have our kid at home.
Yep, you heard it here, I’m going to join the ranks of indigenous women all over the planet (and a very small percentage of modern ladies, not to mention celebs – Ani Difranco,  http://www.mindful-mama.com/media/p/26.aspx   Demi Moore, and Meryl Streep  http://www.merylstreeponline.net/healthy.html ) and go for it in the comfort of my own casa.
Miguel and our two amazing midwives, Cristina and Araceli will be here with me.  We’ve got a massive tub or (tina) coming, in case I want to give birth in water.  We’ve got an OBGYN whom I’ve already had check ups with (and worked with) who has worked with the midwives before and is considered our backup.  (He´ll be able to attend me either at a clinic or at the Civil Hospital (2 minutes away) “por si las moscas” – just in case.) 
So, against the advice of about 72% of friends and friends of friends who have given birth, I’ve opted to not be in a hospital or clinic, and to go it natural – no drugs available.  No epidural, no Demerol, nothing to even take the edge off.   
What do I hope to achieve by doing this? Well, first of all, I want to say for the record that I don´t have anything to prove. In the end, all Miguel and I want is to have a healthy baby.  But I do want to experience my son´s birth in the most organic way possible.  
Why a home birth? It´s pretty simple for me. Some women feel comfortable in hospitals with technology all around them at the ready, and that´s what they need.  Personally, hospitals don´t make me feel safe, they make me feel like an outsider, intimidated, and sometimes even frightened. 
When I am experiencing the most intensely profound and intimate moment of my life, I don´t want to be bathed in flourescent light, surrounded by people who I have never met before.  (This inevitably happens in most all Mexican hospitals.)  Being at home in my own space, in the company of my amazing partner and two women who have delivered hundreds of babies gives me confidence. 
Why no drugs? I´ve heard all sorts of stories, “Go for the Epidrual, girlfriend!  It´s sweet relief!” or  “You´re nuts if you want to go through that pain. It´s not necessary!”   But others have said they have felt completely “cut off” from the experience.   I don´t wnat to be cut off from the experience. In the end, a home birth choice equals no access to such drugs.  

And so the last weekend of summer is upon us.  I can imagine all of my Brooklyn friends making plans for the long weekend, some choosing to escape the city for the quiet of a B&B on the Hudson, others keeping it local – fireworks, frisbee, a Prospect Park BBQ.  But for me, Labor Day has taken on completely new meaning this year. Four weeks away from our due date, Miguel and I are spending the weekend ticking off things on a long list of preparations for our home birth. 

Yep, you heard it here, I’m going to join the ranks of indigenous women all over the planet (not to mention celebs like Ani DifrancoRicki Lake, & Demi Moore) and go for it in the comfort of my own casita.

mothering

    demi moore pregnant vanity fairricki_lake_your_best_birth3

Miguel and I have chosen Cristina and Araceli, two well-respected, seasoned midwives (who happen to run their own Oaxacan midwifery school) to be with us on our day. We’ve got a massive tub coming, in case I want to give birth in water. We’ve got a progressive OBGYN whom I trust as our backup.  I’ve already had check ups with him, and even produced a video with him about “the humanization of childbirth” in Oaxaca. He knows our midwives and will be able to attend me either at a clinic or at the Civil Hospital (2 minutes away) “por si las moscas” – just in case. 

So, against the advice of about 72% of friends (and friends of friends) who have given birth, I’ve opted to NOT be in a hospital or clinic, and to go it natural – no drugs available.  No epidural, no Demerol, nothing to take the edge off.   Some people think I’m nuts.  I´ve heard it all, “Go for the Epidural, girlfriend!  It´s sweet relief!” or  “You´re crazy if you want to go through all that pain! In this day and age, it´s not necessary!”   But then there are others who have gotten the shot, and have said they have felt completely “cut off” or “detached” from the experience.  I don´t want to risk being cut off from the experience. Regardless, by having chosen two midwives who only attend home births, I’ve opted out of the drug possibility, and I’m at peace with that. 

Okay, so why a home birth? It´s pretty simple for me. Some women feel comfortable in hospitals with technology all around them, and that´s what they need.  Personally, hospitals don´t make me feel safe, they make me feel like an outsider, intimidated, and sometimes even frightened. 

When I am experiencing what I imagine will be the most intensely profound and intimate moment of my life, I don´t want to be bathed in blue flourescent light, with people I’ve never met before checking out my vulva UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.  What I do want is to be able to connect with my husband, switch positions, drink water, and focus.  I want to let the process happen naturally.  If I arrive at 24 or 48 hours and the babe still isn’t ready to come out, then he’s not ready, but I don’t want to be told that I need to be induced, cut, pushed along or given a Cesarian, just because things are taking longer than modern medicine says they should.  (If I go to any Mexican hospital, the aforementioned things are very likely to happen as Oaxaca has an 80% rate of Cesarian. To put that in perspective, in Japan there is a 10% rate of Cesarian.) But I digress. All I know is, being at home, in my own space, in the company of my amazing partner and two women who have delivered hundreds of babies is going to make the process of laboring easier for me. Punto.  

What do I hope to achieve by going this route? Well, first of all, I want to say for the record that I don´t have anything to prove. In the end, all Miguel and I want is to have a healthy baby. We know we have to be open to the possibility that things could take an unexpected turn. (This is why our backup plan is so elaborate.)  That said, I do have (and will retain) the hope that I will be able to experience my son´s birth in the most organic way possible. 

The whole experience of being pregnant, educating myself and making choices has been a challenging and wonderfully insightful process for me. The only thing I can say I have learned for certain is that each woman I meet has her own set of beliefs, ideas, needs, and hopes for her labor and delivery experience.  So, hey, if you’re one of the 216,000 women who is going to give birth on the same day as I am, and you believe you need a shot, get the shot. If you don’t think you can bare the pain and want to schedule your Cesarian for next Tuesday, schedule your Cesarian for next Tuesday.  I’m gonna try my hardest to have a natural home birth with midwives, the way women have been doing it for centuries.  

This is what I wish for my Labor Day.  

 

 

Curious about how I made my choice?  Check out INA MAY’s Guide to Childbirth.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

This past week, like so many other cities around the globe, Oaxaca celebrated its own “Semana de la Diversidad Sexual” or Gay Pride Week. Flyers plastered on adobe walls and telephone poles around the center beckoned crowds to attend roundtables, films, dance parties, and even a parade – the first official GLBT march the city has ever seen. I´d been missing BK and jonesing for some super concentrated, fabulous gay energy, so I joined in…

I started off the week with a viewing of Tony Kusnher´s amazing four hour 1996 dramedy, ANGELS IN AMERICA, starring Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Mary Louise Parker. (If you haven’t seen it, put it on your Netflix queue asap.) As I was dropping my five pesitos into the wooden donation box at the entrance of the city’s beloved, free indy-theater, El Pochote, I couldn’t help but overhear a gay gringo expat mention that he was disappointed with the turnout. I counted heads as I made my way down the aisle to my favorite seat…Siete…Ocho…Nueve. There were 9 of us (inlcuding the projectionist.) I sat down, opened my bag of popcorn and hoped that it was because of the drizzle that had just started. More people are on their way…Right?

Perhaps. But the sad reality is that an overwhelming majority of Oaxacan citizens aren’t there yet. And although Oaxaca is without a doubt a gem of a city, and one of the cultural capitals of Latin America with regards to art, folklore and cuisine, (not to mention the mobilization of so many liberals that took place after the incidents in 2006 ) this city – this country – is FILLED with homophobia. It´s devastating to me, but it´s something I’ve had to come to terms with since I first came here in 2002.

Miguel and I consistently find ourselves cringing at how often and how non-chalantly the F word (here it´s the P word ) is thrown around. On top of that comes a ton of anti-gay joke telling, and the most typical comment- “Oh I have no problem with them, as long as they don’t…” As long as they don’t what? Tell you that they are gay? Hold their partner’s hand in public? Want to get married? Adopt children? Be protected under the law?

Currently, Oaxaca state doesn’t have a single anti-discrimination law in place that specifically protects members of the GLBT community. This means that people who get beat up on the street, or get fired from their jobs for being gay are on their own. Fortunately, Oaxacan based NGO’s like La Asociación Civil Diversidades, and El Colectivo Feminista Lila who helped organize this first official day of protest are on a mission to change all that. And so, on Saturday, June 27th, they called upon members of the GLBT community to meet in El LLANO Park and prepare to march.

On our way there, I clutched Miguel’s hand and confessed my fears… “What if they don’t come? What if no one comes?? I want it to be BIG! It NEEDS to be BIG!” When we jumped off the bus and heard the banda music pumping in the distance, I felt a huge sigh of relief. They came out.

IMG_4313
There were gay punk teens, women in huipiles, dads with tots, massive monos de calenda wearing rainbow flags. There were lesbian lovers, graying gay gringos, bearded ladies, sassy transvestites, and everyone in between.

IMG_4288

I watched, filmed and (and of course had a few moments of teary-eyed hope) as we took to the streets to dance, chant, and list demands.

IMG_4332

 

The gritos went something like: “We´re not only here to have fun, we´re here to get things done!” & “Today marks the beginning of the end of machismo!” & ” No que no, si que si, empezamos a salir!” “Ready or not, we’re coming out!” Onlookers and unassuming passersby stood on the sidelines, some enjoying the “show,” some dumbfounded, some pointing, some curiously staring, others glaring, but mostly they were peaceful.

IMG_4316

 

When we arrived in the main square, across from the entrance to the mammoth Catholic Cathedral, Oaxaca´s GLBT leaders listed their demands

IMG_4338

 

Plain and simple – they want equal rights for all GLBT factions including the recognition of transgender individuals, as well as the implementation of laws to protect people against hate crimes committed in the state and the country. It felt good to hear the words echo through the main square. Por fin. En voz alta.

IMG_4369

 

I made my rounds through the crowd, spontaneously interviewing people, asking them why they were there and what their hopes were for the future. (Video forthcoming.) Most GLBT Oaxacans only want freedom from discrimination. They are aware of what they are up against, but they refuse to sit around and wait for society to change on its own. That’s why they’ve come out. To remind the community that they’re here and they’re here to stay.

IMG_4279

 

And although Oaxaca won’t by any means celebrate passage of a marriage equality bill in the near future, the community has taken it upon themselves to start the process of moving forward. And I am proud to have been here to witness it.

IMG_4375
One day, I’ll tell my Oaxacan-American kid about it. I imagine him saying something like, “De veras, Ma? Órale!  Como han cambiado las cosas!”  For real, Ma? Wow! Things sure have changed.

 

 

Gallery of additional photos:

Still Photography: Miguel Ayuso

Read Full Post »