the idea of ‘outlaw midwives’ began in the winter of 2008 as i was preparing to go to palestine. aza, my daughter, was 1 years old at the time, and i found myself writing about the physical and psychological trauma of our birth, the planned homebirth that became an unnecessary c-section, and imagining what was needed for a truly empowerd birth. before giving birth, i had thought that if i was educated about birth, and physically/psychologically strong, i could have an empowered birth. i did not imagine that my birth would be painless, i looked forward to entering the circles of pain and fire, of discovering what birth was, what my body could do. what i did not count on was my midwife, my friends and my family, those who had promised to stand as support for my voice and my decisions would betray me one by one. i counted on their loyalty, their protection, and i was sadly mistaken.

and while the c-section was painful, what was traumatizing was the reactions of people to my birth. hearing my birth story told by people who had never talked to me about it. having people tell me that i must have been ‘couldnt handle the pain’ or ‘had given up’ or was ‘weak’. when none of those things had happened. hearing the same people who promised to be birth support claiming i had chosen a c-section because it was easier than vaginal birth.

what i had chosen was not to have my newly born infant taken by protective child services. my midwife, after transferring my care to an ob/gyn without my permission or knowledge,told me that if i left the hospital, or chose to give birth at home without a midwife, i would be giving up any right to go to the hospital, w/o enduring an intensive police investigation, if anything went awry in the birth and i did need medical assistance. i could not convince myself that was best for me or my child.

nor could i convince myself that i could give birth at home by myself. not because i didnt feel confident in my body ejecting a baby. but because i knew i would have a long labor and need a steady hand to hold in the worst of the pain, and there would be no hand there.

what i learned from that experience has made me so grateful for that birth and the ensuing trauma. i learned the difference between truth and illusions, between empty promises and real love, between inner strength and control over another, between courage and fear, between me and the images that people project onto me.

And after the c-section as i was breastfeeding Aza that first day, she unlatched, looked up at me and grinned. With dimples! Those dimples were her and my secret for the first days earthside. With that smile she was teaching me how to be joyful in the midst of so much pain and betrayal. In other words, she taught me from her first day, the secret to our survival, no matter what they may do to us, the middle passage, the trail of tears, lynchings, rape…our survival has come because of our joy in the midst of trauma, laughter in the midst of a life of suffering, clear vision in an age of illusions, passion for life in the face of genocide.

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