I’ve been slowly preparing my birth plan(s) these past few weeks and its made me realize how much of a low key bruja/paysanne/granola mama I’ve become in the past decade. I guess a lot of these values and ways of seeing my world were always somewhere deep inside of me but I’ve really stepped up in my practice of ‘natural’ (and spiritual) paths and I couldn’t figure out what steered me this way till I was whipping up an impromptu deep conditioner for my winter scarred hair and it hit me.. it all started with my hair!
In August of 2011 (what’s with me and milestones in August), I officially ‘big chopped’ my hair. I say officially because prior to this I had been shaving my head and messing around with a variety of hairstyles (yes I even did the Denis Rodman look) since I was 19 or so, but in 2011 I decided that I was shaving my head with the goal of letting my hair grow natural. I wasn’t the one who had a originally decided to perm my hair when I was 12.. a whack hair dresser made that decision while my mom went out to the bank to get money to pay for my styling. However neither my mom nor I took the responsibility of figuring out how to get me back to my natural state and we just decided to stick with rocking braids so neither of us would have to deal with the disaster. So in 2011 when I decided I was going natural, I had a whole lot of learning to do. As a grown woman, I didn’t want to ask my mom to do my hair (let’s be honest, she probably would of filled my head with boule go-gos and ribbons like she did when I was 8) and she couldn’t really be much help because we come from different generations who deal with hair very differently and we have very different hair textures so what worked for her wouldn’t even necessarily work for me. This is when I became a youtube binger and spent every free moment I had learning about what it meant to be ‘natural’. I’m not quite sure why but I never got into buying a bunch of the different of the ‘natural’ hair products, from jump I was really into the idea making my own hair care products. DIY hair care products soon became all other types of body care and next thing I knew I was switching away from disposable pads to cloth pads and a bunch of other decisions I had never really considered cause the information had never reached my radar. As I said earlier I think that deep down I was always dissatisfied with mainstream options of body care, food, medications and other aspects of my health. Who would’ve thought my hair would’ve been the one to guide through the rabbit hole of alternative options. All I can is that though my hair drives me crazy on most days I am truly grateful for her. Exploring alternative paths of physical health and spirituality has really helped me get to know beautiful sides of myself that are now essentially to who I am.
In terms of pregnancy and birth, because I was already in the practice of considering alternatives, I fell upon of a massive repertory of lived wombyn experiences around the globe that helped me find the particular practices that resonate with me. Learning about pregnancy and birth has prepared me physically, mentally and spiritually for all that I’m living right now and it’s also brought me closer to my mother and my maternal grandmother. Turns out I have a lot of preferences and tendencies that resemble my maternal grandmother’s which warms my heart. Funny thing is I never met my grandmother.. she passed many years before I was born but I guess you can mess with genetic memory. Through conversations with my mother about my pregnancy and birth choices, I ended finding out that my grandma was actually a favoured midwife in my mama’s home village back in Haiti. I also learned about the many ways in which my mom felt that modern medicine had interfered with her instincts with her pregnancies and births. I learned about the types of births she would’ve wanted to have and the dozens of births she witnessed back home. Every story has helped me feel grounded in my choices and truly grateful to have such a wise woman by my side. My mama truly is a living library. A library who has so much to share and yet has so much to learn (or rather unlearn). We’ve been going to my birthing centre prenatal classes together and from time to time, she’ll have a moment of anxiety or doubt where she starts reciting mainstream discourse to me and when we talk it out I realize how much brainwashing she’s been through and how modernity has messed with her lived knowledge of healthy normal natural births. In a way my choices are healing her trauma and together we are preparing for a birth that would make our ancestors proud… And this all started with hair.
p.s: I know I know I didn’t get into any of the details of my birth plan(s).. I’m still working on it. I’ll do a post about it all some time soon. xo