Thursday, June 21, 2012

Confirmation ...

I love getting confirmation that I am on the right path or that everything is going to be alright.

Tonight was orientation at my son's new school. He is my youngest child and will be entering high school in the fall, but this is my first experience with the New York City public school system as a parent (I was a public school kid). Overall, it was a good evening. I think he is a bit more comfortable about the school after seeing some of the classrooms, the cafeteria and getting a sampling of the clubs and extra-curricular activities offered. I think it also helped when a rising senior told my son that he is lucky to be going to this school and he knows my son will enjoy it.

One of my biggest concerns about this school is that my son was in a graduating class of 40 students. The high school has a population of over 5,000 students. That's massive. The building is colossal. The classes are much larger. It's a huge change. He is going from being a big fish in a little pond - where everyone in the school knew him by name from teachers, to the principal, to maintenance workers - to being a grain of sand on the beach.

Where does the confirmation come in at? Well, yesterday I received a phone call from the parent coordinator at the new school (our old school didn't even have one). The coordinator let me know that she had the package I sent with his medical forms, etc. However, my son was not on the roster; according to her, he was not enrolled for the fall semester. She thought she should contact me so that I could start advocating on his behalf because clearly I thought he was attending their school and she didn't think there were any more spaces available. So after a visit to his old school, numerous calls/emails to the enrollment office, guidance counselor, and other administrators, and duplicate online submissions, the parent coordinator informed me that she now has my son on her list and all is well.

When the dust settled, I thought about the incident. This woman could have said to herself that she had a lot of work on her desk and pushed aside my papers since my son wasn't on her roster. What she did was pick up the phone and call me. She called my cell phone. Then she called my job until she reached me, not my voice-mail. She said if it was her child, she would want someone to be considerate of them. She didn't want me finding out that there was an issue when it was too late to correct it. I see that although this new school has a vast number of students, there are people in place who look out for the individual. I know the school has a high academic rating and their program ranks amongst the top in the country. However, I discovered that they back up their boast of being available for their students and families when needed. Confirmation that we made the right educational choice for this moment in time. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Father Before Birth

Welcome to the Second Edition of the  Black Birth Carnival. Hosted by Darcel of  The Mahogany Way Birth Cafe and Nicole of Musings From The Mind of Sista Midwife. The Topic: Not Without Our Fathers. So often we talk birth in women circles. We celebrate birth within the feminine community and forget that without the fathers our birth experiences would be non existent. June 17th marks the day many will celebrate fathers in this country. With that in mind we came up with our topic for this installment of the Black Birth Blog Carnival.
 photo by Saddi Khali

I’ve shared some of my son’s birthing story in the past with the emphasis on important points I wanted to convey to him. However, in honor of Father’s Day, I want to share with you from the perspective of how my children’s father impacted our childbirth experience. Creation is a miracle that is a joint effort between the divine, the man, and the woman. My children’s father and I were a team and when I needed to lean on his strength and wisdom, he made himself available.

I was pretty young when we got married and shortly after the wedding I discovered I was pregnant. I figured we would have children, someday, just not so soon. I was apprehensive about telling my new husband that we were going to be expecting a bundle of joy while we were living in a tiny basement apartment, just starting our life together. I met him one day for lunch to share the news and his reaction was most memorable. He asked if that was all I had to tell him because he already knew I was pregnant. My hesitation was unwarranted because he was excited that we were going to be parents. During the following months, he was very attentive; making sure he let me know how beautiful I was and how much he looked forward to greeting our child. He would speak to her constantly and play music for her. We read books on parenting and how to prepare spiritually for the new life that was coming forth. We had long debates on what to name our child, not knowing if we would have a girl or boy. We finally settled on a male name but were still searching for the most appropriate female name. One day while we were watching a movie, we had a simultaneous epiphany – the baby princess’s name would be perfect for our daughter.  Now we were ready for her arrival. About two weeks prior to my due date something strange happened; I started leaking. I didn’t realize that it was possible for one’s water to break at the rate of a trickle. I went to my doctor because I figured that wasn’t right. He didn’t examine me, just took my word on what was happening with my body and said I had a urinary tract infection. The doctor ordered antibiotics for me. My husband decided that was ludicrous, so we nixed the pills. I stayed home, relaxed, and dripped for three days. That third night I had trouble sleeping. I stayed on the sofa, unsuccessfully trying to locate a comfortable position. By this point, I had been in labor for days yet did not know it. I also did not know what labor pains really felt like so I was back and forth from the bathroom thinking I had to move my bowels. If it was not for my husband, our daughter would have been born in the toilet. Against my doctor’s instructions, he insisted that we go to the hospital when we did. Two hours after we reached the hospital, our first child was born.

Fast forward eight years, I am once again pregnant. We are a little older and just a tad bit more prepared to become parents for the second time. The whole family was involved with the preparation for our son. My husband and daughter accompanied me to all of the pre-natal visits. When my diet was restricted because I was borderline diabetic, my husband ensured I had the foods I needed to stay healthy and he encouraged me to walk as much as I could. As with our first child, this child was spoken to by his father daily and was showered with prayers and music. We researched names and decided upon those that declared life to the traits we wanted our son or daughter to exhibit. When I went into labor with our son, I knew what to expect this time. We brought our daughter with us to the hospital and she was in the room when her brother was born.  After the doctor (not the same one from before) caught the baby, his father cut the umbilical cord. Before I held our son, his father cradled him, prayed for him and dedicated him to God.

Today, our children are 22 and 13 years old. Although we have since divorced, our children are happy, well-adjusted, and successful at this stage in their lives. I believe their father and I gave them the best we could from the time they were conceived. Mothers and fathers each bring a unique and necessary dynamic to the process of child birthing. I am thankful that I was not alone during this period and that together we were able to lay a foundation of love and support for our children.

As we celebrate fathers, please share your stories of fathers who have impacted you or your children's lives.

Please take the time to read and comment on the other participants posts. 

Shahmet at Adia Publishing: A Father Before Birth
Reggie at WhatrUWorkinon?: They’re All Miracles
Nicole  at Musings From The Mind of Sista Midwife:  #BlackBirth Not Without Our Fathers
Darcel at The Mahogany Way Birth Cafe: Are Men at Birth Important?
Alexis at The Ivy Expansion: A Fathers Love
Mavhu at F.W. Hargrove: I Birth At Home 

Twitter Hashtag #BlackBirth

Sunday, June 3, 2012

He Said, She Said, and the Truth

For years I've heard, and believed, that in every story there are at least three sides - the first person's, the second person's and the truth somewhere in the middle. Of course the more people involved, the more versions are birthed. Today, I reflected on this after a conversation with a particular gentleman who I don't know very well.

There is this couple who are going through a divorce. I met the wife about a year and half ago in a class and she has shared some of her trials with me. Then I met the husband in a different class about a year ago. Somewhere around six months after that, I figured out that they were married to each other. He never mentions the wife ... talks about his work, the children, all kinds of topics ... never the wife. This morning we engaged in insightful conversation that ranged from the HIV epidemic to sound business practices to the NY Red Bulls (I didn't know we had a soccer team) to summer camps. She, on the other hand, mentions him often and has provided a not so pleasant picture of her soon-to -be-ex-husband; very different than what he has projected to me. Which got me thinking.

We are all complex individuals with many facets to share. We encompass both positive and negative qualities. Sometimes we reflect one attribute more than the other. Certain people just bring out the worst in us and we should not be in each other's presence. I have to be careful not to make judgements based on other people's experiences, yet still hold their perceptions with the esteem it deserves. I diligently strive to remember that people who I have issues with don't always look the same to everyone else. The most important goal is not to be right but to be fair in my representation of self and others. It has been easy for me to tell a child that his/her action may be bad but that does not make him/her a bad person. I am trying to translate this into my relations with adults.

I am a work in progress. Far from perfect. I can be both loving and hateful; kind and mean; forgiving and vindictive; the list goes on. While I strive to feed the more constructive aspects of my personality, I will keep in mind that my sisters and brothers are doing the same.