"A Midwife must have the Eyes of a Hawk, the Hands of a Lady, and the Heart of a Lion."
No, mum. I will never “be like all those other normal girls”.
There have been three important, courageous, and inspiring women in my life, my mom, my high school teacher, and my daughter.
I was born in Kanembwa, a now unhabitable land; a refugee camp, one of many in Tanzania. She fled the war, the 1993 Burundian genocide. Having only just given birth to two beautiful little twin girls in that same year, two little bundles of joy, she had to flee. The genocide was soul crippling, faith paralyzing... It was gut wrenching. Having witnessed families being torn apart, parents being cut up, children being killed in front of those that brought them into this world. Having witnessed parents have no choice but to abandon their little ones and little ones abandon their Mama and Papa. She held onto her newborn blessings and by foot she fled the genocide. She told me how along the journey people fought for faeces, not having had anything in sight worth digesting into one's body, humans fought for bodily excrement. But that was the LEAST of her worries. Holding two newborns in her arms, one three year old toddler girl and a five year old boy, all she was concerned with was being found from her hiding spot and the lives of her children taken in front of her. She told me of how she witnessed parents who were fleeing amongst others suddenly abandon their babies because they had no food or water for them; because babies and children alike aren't quiet by nature and many families were caught due to the sound of their children crying, they were killed and most babies died along the way. Most of these parents threw their children into the river, most of these children had incurable wounds that were already killing them slowly... "Bamwe babata mumazi kubera bariko barafa ninzara canke nibiguma", she said. I can't possibly imagine what it has to come to for one to see their child dying in their arms and then making the decision to put them out of their misery. I can't comprehend the pain, the numbness of ever being anywhere near such a situation. I can't mentally grasp the insanity of it all. As a twenty-two year old mother of a two year old little boy, i just can't imagine ever going through something like that and being able to make it out sane. I can't judge the actions of the parents who abandoned their little ones, I can't judge unless i was in a position to, unless i had gone through it and saw what they saw, heard what they heard, and felt the pain that they felt, cried with them and mourned with them. I asked her "Why did you flee with all four children? Were you not afraid of being caught and killed?" She looked at me and without hesitation she said, " If i were to be caught then that was it, i'd be caught and killed with my children, because i was not leaving any of them behind, if they were to die then i'd die along with them."
My maternal grandfather called us “strong-willed women”. It was a point of pride with him. I come from a long line of strong-willed women, on both sides of my family, and I am better for it. I mean, there is literally a park in my dad’s hometown named after my grandmother. Pennington Park was a piece of land, owned for many years by my grandparents. After my grandmother’s death, they turned it into a park for the arts and music. So let me tell you about the amazing women in my family.
Being a woman is such a magical experience, isn’t it? We have intuition and instincts that can shake this planet. We inspire response to our presence wherever we go. We are tenacious and beautiful and gifted with earth shattering talents and abilities.
When your life has been tumultuous, you develop an amazing set of skills.
When people find out that I'm not having kids, I often hear things through the grapevine like, 'she'll change her mind', or 'there's little purpose without children', or, 'it's selfish not to have kids'.
When I was little, I was curious about childbirth simply because it was never talked about. A woman would grow a baby in her belly, it would become a big bump, then one day, a baby appeared as if by magic.
When I was a kid, my older brother used to grab me by the waist and throw me over his shoulder. He would swoop in catching me off guard with a triumphant, "HAHA! Gotcha!"
Before I got pregnant, I thought that all of the "New Moms" in my circle were intentionally going out of their way to cut me out.