They say that a baby is raised in a village.
I see the scene before me.
The mother nurtured back to health after her primal home birth by a community of doting mothers and aunties and grandmothers who sit around the kitchen table preparing big pots of nourishing soup made with love. Advice is dished out. Wisdom is shared. Hair is plaited. Secrets are revealed. There is laughter. Some harsh words too. Hurts from the past and dreams for the future surface.
The mother is restored not only by the actual caring but also by the feeling of being cared for. In the cocoon of love and support, she has the strength, energy and presence to attend to her baby’s needs and learn its ways. When the time comes for her to re-enter the world, she is forever changed but ready.
The modern day village can be different.
I emerged from the hospital broken after an overdue, long, hard, slow, dehydrated, Pitocin-filled labour fighting epidural and doctors who threatened C-section. Though I was proud of my birth battle, I emerged the other side worn out and completely daunted of a task I have resisted my whole life.
I wanted to lie in bed with the covers over my head, but never was it less an option. And so, I put one foot in front of the other and looked just slightly ahead, like I learned to do in long distance running.
Until I find myself looking into my village co-partner’s worn-out eyes, almost one year into the one foot in front of the other, beyond exhausted after taking turns rocking our baby to sleep. Longing to put one foot behind the other and walk steadfastly back to moment one.
And start afresh. Detach from the inner whispers of expectation and the drip of adrenaline keeping me going. Ask for help unapologetically. Sleep. Recoup. Sleep. Nurture. Sleep. Pray. Sleep. Breathe. Sleep. Let go. Sleep. Trust. Sleep. Tap more into the power of a wider village. And sleep.