Most of you don’t know that when I was younger, one of my jobs was as a Childbirth Educator. I taught childbirth education classes for almost 10 years and they were some of the happiest times of my life. I interacted with hundreds of expecting and new parents. I witnessed numerous births. It was always with a sense of amazement that I realized that no 2 births are exactly the same, even for the same mother, even for the same parents. It is an experience filled with awe and fraught with worry. It is natural and so many births could happen just fine without any assistance or intervention. Yet it is also an event in which a multitude of things can “go wrong” – small things, big things, things that endanger mother or child or both. I learned there is no “right way” because there is no single path that every child uses to enter this life.
That is amazing to me! It doesn’t amaze me that we are all different as individual human beings. But it does amaze me that we all have different birth experiences. I could explain the process and tell parents how the “typical” birth would occur. But I could never tell them what would happen to them and their baby.
One might think that after talking to hundreds of parents and seeing so many births, I might be a bit unimpressed when I speak with new mothers today. But that’s not true. I am still impressed and inspired.
I spoke to a new mother just this morning. No, I haven’t taught classes for many years now. I had called Pine Ridge to let an expectant mother know that I had a sponsor for her 2 year old son.
When I called her home, a male answered. This was unexpected since she is a single mother. I asked for mom and was told she had gone to the hospital last night to have the baby. Then I remembered. Mom had told me when last we spoke that she was on better terms with her son’s dad and he was going to stay with the little boy while she was in the hospital. I asked him to let her know I had called and that I would contact her about a sponsor when she got home.
I made another phone call, to the sponsor this time, after speaking to the man in Pine Ridge. I got the answering machine and had to leave a message. In the time it took to leave the message, I had a voicemail message myself – from Mom!
My goodness! She was so anxious to be sure she got the sponsor that she called me from her hospital room. I returned her call. She told me her “birth” story.
Last night she had been cleaning and rearranging furniture to make room for the new baby. She started to have contractions. No big deal. When they got to be 5 minutes apart, she drove herself to the hospital. [Yes, all of you who have experienced labor, drove herself. She downplayed it – “I don’t live that far away.” – be we all know that 5 minutes apart is when labor gets really tough!] She got to the hospital about 12:30 AM and found out she was 7 cm dilated. She said they gave her some medication “to take the edge off” but continued “all it did was make me dizzy.” She delivered a perfect 7 lb 15 oz baby girl at 6:30 AM.
Just 6 hours after delivering the baby, she called me back. She sounded like she could go back to cleaning the house, though she did admit to being tired. But it was important enough to her to have a sponsor for her children that she wanted to call me.
Her effort to contact me said several things to me. The first was something that I already knew – she is a mature, caring mother. The second thing it said to me was that she was another example of the strong Lakota women I have come to know in the past 6 years. She had told me in our prior conversation that she planned to go to work again shortly after she had the baby. Her job – working as a “flagger” at road construction sites. I know women are strong in general but Lakota women are awesome.
The third thing her call told me was the importance of sponsors in the lives of those who are trying to raise children in some of the hardest conditions in this nation. So I hope you will go to the “What is a Sponsor?” page and see what a sponsor can be. For this mother and her children, a sponsor will be someone to fill in the gaps. For them, a sponsor will be hope for a better future. I am so happy I was able to give her a sponsor today.
I’d like to think of it as a Happy Birth Day present for her daughter.