A Letter to Dinah About Birth in Haiti

Dear Dinah,

I have been thinking about you and all your stories passed down to you from your aunties and grandmothers in the Red Tent.  I am on the first part of my honeymoon, volunteering at a birthing center in Haiti.  It is October 2010 and the people here have been hit by this year’s earthquake.  In light of the stories being passed down, history being told through HERstory, I wanted to share a bit of my experience so far.

I have been attending births in a beautiful white dome.  They are strong here.  It seems that when each woman gives birth there is what seems to be a delay in joy receiving their new baby.  It’s as though there is that moment of “is he/she going to live?” and a moment of overwhelm- seems hard to care for oneself let alone another human being.  I’m an outsider here, so maybe I’m totally off. 

I am also humbled by how gentle and calm the babies are.  

They are calm when they are born, calm when they come in with their moms for postpartum and well baby visit.  They seem to have open eyes and are ready for life from the first moment.  These babies must feel loved, they are held all the time and all breastfed.  It’s so endearing to see the community connectedness and support.  There may be lots of honking horns and loud music nonstop, yet there is a calm and centered community congruence.  It is hot and harsh, yet loving and tender.

I am reminded of the work I did in Ghana at times, far from home and familiarity, longing for community connectedness like I observe, yet saddened by what seems to be a tough life.  I am grateful to be on this particular trip with my husband, we are a team and lean on one another to share in our moments of processing, awe and sadness.  

It’s been lovely to learn about burning the cord rather than cutting the cord.  

Makes so much sense in regard to cleanliness, but also the Naturopath that is here running part of the birthing center has also shared the energy of heat and fire that goes into the “core” of that baby when the cord is burned.  Also makes me think of my time in Halau, hearing our Hawaiian Kumu talk about a plant cut with metal is forever separated, yet a plant or leaf torn or cut without metal staying forever connected.  I think I’ll have the cord burnt when it’s my time to give birth….

The women are so beautiful, always dressed nicely, jewelry on etc…even when they arrive at the birthing center in labor.  I see class and honor and pride, even in times of struggle.  The women join together, laboring moms have multiple women with them as support, often representing multiple generations.  I try to simply stay out of the way and hold space for the beauty to unfold.

I am enjoying bananas and mangos, music and cobblestone streets.  Lots of babies are being born and moms leave within 4-6 hours of giving birth.  I am grateful to be here, allowing space for birth with fresh air, a feeling of community and a sense of hope.  It’s a good start to our honeymoon and I’m also thrilled to play for a month in Thailand and a month in New Zealand.

More to come….for now…cheers to women supporting women and to empowered women empowering women. 

Dinah

We’ve created Dinah as a pen name for all of us.

For every woman who is desperate to tell her real story, but, for whatever reason, “can’t” under her own name.

In Dinah’s name, we’re about to get very real, and tell the truth, some of us for the very first time.

“Dinah” is a safe space for all women to be universally women and to explore all of the stories we carry and people that we are underneath the layers that we share with the world.Do you have a story to tell? Submit it anonymously here!

June 14, 2020

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