My name is Mani; I live in Phoenix, Arizona with my two children, husband and dog. This is the story behind Shout Your Birth, and my pregnancy journey.
First of all, I never planned to be a mother. Coming from a traumatic childhood instills a sense of fear around parenting that I know many can relate to. I felt as a young adult as if I had only just discovered my independence, and barely had my act together enough to take care of myself. But then, I found myself pregnant at 29 years old (… ahem, after being denied an IUD, but that is a story for another day).
As a women’s rights advocate, I always pondered what decision I would make if placed in the precarious decision of keeping a pregnancy. Most of my adolescence and young adult life had been squandered away in deep emotional turmoil, surviving by the skin of my teeth and insurmountable credit card debt, time lost to overworking, partying, lamenting, and robbing Peter to pay Paul (as they say) to scrape by. There was no room for a child in that mess.
But now, living in relative stability, having spent 2 years in therapy and in a healthy relationship, I shocked myself at the quiet voice inside me that whispered, “I want this.” And so, my journey of motherhood began, to my own dismay and bemusement.
I am extremely lucky. Of course the irony of life would deliver two healthy pregnancies and births to the woman who never wanted a child. I am eternally grateful and do not take this lightly. And so it went.
Transformation hardly sums up the extraordinary metamorphosis that birth was for me in every respect. Physically, emotionally, mentally, my very perception of the world we live in and the societal norms we’ve been taught was shaken to its core. The experience of birth is a realm beyond what’s possible to capture in words. It makes me cry just thinking about it.
At its best, birth connects you to the divine, allowing your body to be the channel between life and death. You surrender to inexplicable powers to bring forth a child from the realm beyond. Wholly connecting with every creature who has ever birthed before you, and who will birth after you.
And of course at its worst, birth is a traumatic, heartbreaking and devastating experience, leaving scars and pain both physical and emotional that extend years beyond the act itself.
I found it (and still find it) disturbing how secretive birth is. As a pregnant person, I was ravenous for information; I wanted to hear the nitty gritty details of every birth I could. I treasured these intimate details; my closest friends (and strangers, even), sharing stories in hushed tones. I found their birth stories frightening and exhilarating, and pondered at how universal birth is and yet, hidden in the shadows.
The fact is, there are so many reasons for women to shout their birth. Be it triumph or tragedy, women need to know that they are not alone. I’d like to revive and age old tradition of women owning the space of birth, starting simply with telling their own stories. My goal is for birthing women to commune together, pass down wisdom, enlighten, and hold space for each other’s triumph and tragedies. I also aim to shed light upon the problems in our health systems that have led to tragic motherhood mortality rates (that impact Black woman in the United States worse than any other group).
I hope you’ll join me in shouting your birth, and create a new tradition of openly sharing birth stories to share, celebrate, connect, grieve, honor and simply love on other birthing people across time and space.
From my heart to yours, thank you for being here.