October 20, 2011

Labor of Love: A birth story begins

Labor of Love...

As the days pass so does the sharp memory of pain. I think every day about writing Claire’s birth story but something holds me back. I prepared for being a mother and giving birth from the minute we decided to have children. In some way it was on my mind. It dictated the home we bought, the car we chose and even our move back to the States. I wanted a natural birth as much as possible. I can’t even explain the driving force behind it.

In some way I wanted a bridge to other cultures. I still remember one group of young Karamajong village girls who had come to the gate to visit with me. Me, in my broken Karamajong and white skin, them with their calloused toes, bare feet and dry hands. They had axes and were headed towards the border of Kenya to collect fire wood. They would be walking for miles and working hard in the bush and then carrying the wood back on their heads. Just a week or so before, a young girl got shot in the face while out innocently getting firewood when the group she was with ran into warriors who had come to steal cattle. I looked down at my thick sandals and white skin.

I couldn’t go with them but was honored they had asked. They were trying to connect with me. I was more than ten years their senior but seemed more like the helpless child. I couldn’t go with them. I could hike ten miles maybe, but never in the blaring sun with no water and they would surely be going further.

They asked me if I didn’t collect firewood and I didn’t go to the borehole for water each day- then what did I do? I tried to explain... They can’t read so my time spent studying seemed a waste to them. My time spent planning lessons for the elementary school also seemed pointless.

Silence stretched longer. We talked about beads and laughed as we exchanged bangles and stared off into the sun, squinting and shielding our eyes.

They then asked if I had any scars. One young girl giggled as she lifted her weighty beads from her neck to show her raised scars all along her chest and breasts. Another girl had delicate leaf like scars etched from the corner of her eyes back and up her forehead.

I did have a scar, I said, as I lifted my shirt and showed them a big scar on my back. They gasped and laughed at the lily white skin and they roughly poked the delicate scar and said that it wasn’t enough. I needed more.

We had so little in common.

I was honored they had come hours, from a village we visited often, just to see me. But I had no bridge. No way for us to really connect.

But birth would perhaps be a way I could connect. Perhaps it would be a tiny bridge where I could say that in some tiny way my experience was like theirs.

And thus, Claire’s birth story began years ago over raised scars and bare feet and ended in breathless tears and awe a thousand miles away.

Finally, I’m ready to write it...

3 comments:

Brandon and April said...

oh, Georgia, you are so wonderful. You make my birth story beginning sound like a cheesy Dr. Seuss book compared with the likes of Jane Austen. can't wait to read the rest!

ohappydaisy said...

I love this. I loved your birth story, too. But I love this more. Thanks for sharing. It's amazing how my work has expanded since Lucy. It's true. I finally have something in common with my neighbors.

The Reeds said...

Thanks guys. And April, I think the birth story is a far cry from Austen! And thanks Leslie. I like this more too. There's something really intense about building a bridge that crosses more than water isn't there?

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