Sunday, December 13, 2015
Carrie Wortham Birth Center, Your Mom - Finding the Good Spirits
I had gone to Cabestore to help set up a new birth center. Next to the church, it is the biggest building anywhere around and it is painted bright pink. Women can go there for prenatal care and to give birth and for postpartum check ups. There is trainings for the matrones and occasional medical clinics. Its where Oliver's mom went for her check ups, when he was still inside her. Tap, tap , tap went his little heart inside her. Tap, tap, tap.
I tell Oliver that this is a sign that the "good spirits" are moving in to Cabestore ; that the bad spirits that took his Mama are getting smaller and weaker and the good ones are growing. I tell him that sometimes when one good thing comes, many more follow.
I tell him that each day, we get up and get to decide how we are going to live this life. Sometimes we have to look, but the good spirits are all right there too.
I tell him the birth center is named after a woman I knew and she died too, right around the same time as his Mama. Some "bad spirits" took her too. I tell him that bad spirits come when people aren't paying attention to where they are going or who they may run over, as they plow through the world blind to other's well being. I tell him, he can't walk yet but when he can to look where he is going and it will help a lot. I tell him, even if he becomes rich and powerful, to watch where he is going and not run over anyone. Slow down, I tell him and watch where people are going and help them out, if you can.
This woman, Carrie; the one the birth center was named after, had a particularly good ability to create good spirits. She danced, ran, made brownies for everyone, took care of stray cats. She was good at creating good spirits in the midst of some pretty, hard moments. Its a talent but one anyone can practice this and get better at it.
So, I tell Oliver, given that the birth center is named after a person talented in creating "good spirits" I believe its a good sign for his community. I tell him good spirits are coming his way and he just needs to hold on.
I tell him we are having a lot of trouble with "bad spirits"in our country too. I tell him greed and not looking out for other people, is at an all time high. But loving people and the fight for watching out for others, is also at an all time high. I believe your Mama, was killed by centuries of greed. I also believe there was a bacteria or a virus that we could have stopped but more important, she was killed by a deep division between those who have and those who do not. Sometimes, in Haiti, I hear people blame the next door neighbor for these bad spirits but I suspect this only serves to keep you from understanding the source of the real "bad spirits." I want you to know that your Mama loved you and most likely died of a water borne bacteria that caused severe dehydration that lead to her death. The "bad spirits"; things like a lack of education, a lack of good farm land, a lack of food and too many children in too few years were all things that could have been prevented her death too. Education, family planning and health care are human rights.
In the future, the women indoor small hamlet, will get good prenatal care and access to a safe birth and easier access to family planning. But most of all the birth center will stand as a beacon for our belief in good spirits. Many volunteers will make their way to your small, rural community. Haitian midwives will train there.
There is nothing I can do to bring back your mother. I can not change the events that led to Carrie's death. All I can do is to work to understand the "bad spirits" that led to their deaths and try, each and every day to work hard to understand those things that bring "good spirits" as well. I was raised a Quaker. When I was little they said my only job, in life, was to walk around and try to look for the light in each human being. To nurture that light and not be afraid to be a witness to the things that seek to put that light out. To not be afraid. Because of this, I chose to interpret the "bad spirits" as the absence of light and not a specific curse. I saw "bad spirits" is the absence of human rights, the absence of dignity and equity. And so, in this way, I believe your mother was killed by a "bad spirit" and that her death was preventable. That "bad spirit"was greed. This greed grows a big hole in people's hearts and it cannot be filled by things, or speed, or beauty or power. The hole just keeps getting bigger and bigger and it feels like the "bad spirits" just want more and more and just keep taking more and more victims. It feels that way sometimes.
I am a midwife, and I know that every baby is born with a "good spirit" growing in their heart. The light inside each new born baby is so powerful and so sweet, it can nearly knock a midwife over. I suspect that's why I'm a midwife. I like to swim in that light. I suspect the reason I like a nice, quiet, natural birth is so I can see that light a bit better and make sure the baby gets set straight in the world; knowing this goodness is his or her's birthright. I like to keep a baby naked and on his Mama so that for a little bit all things are equal, with each baby and the world. The inequities will come soon enough.
You were born into your Mama's arms. You were bathed in this light. They say your Mama thought of you, right before she died, and gave you to the women who is caring for you in your own village. Sometimes, I am scared they will tell me you didn't make it. I know the odds are against you.
Hold on. You were born in a sea of light. There are "good spirits" all around you. Hold on.