My first-born baby girl turns 21 years old today. Exactly 21 years ago this morning I became a mother for the first time. I had just turned 17 years old a few weeks prior, and having approached my 42nd week of pregnancy the Medicaid midwives and doctors I had been seeing were pushing for artificial induction. My rebellious young soul was not fully woke at that time, but I had enough sense to know I had to fight to go as natural as possible. So two days before my scheduled induction, I researched herbal remedies and found out about castor oil. I didn’t tell anyone, but I was convinced I had to self-induce. I remember I couldn’t handle the taste so I steamed a towel and poured that funky oil all over my belly and let it seep into my pores. Hours later I was in labor.
I had a very traumatic experience at the hospital with the white doctors and their wanna-be-god-like, interventionist, unnatural ways, but thankfully my baby girl was finally born healthy, beautiful, and smelling like castor oil.
Since then over the course of the last 21 years I have had a series of crash courses in life, family, myself, the sacred feminine, and birthing/pregnancy. Growing up with little guidance and cultural disconnect has been painful, but this was what I was dealt and such is the fire of the ceremony ways. Pain, like labor, is a part of the process of life, of growth and enlightenment. I am grateful. But now, I am armed with critical consciousness…and in my every moment I hope to share what I’ve learned to the other hermanitas who are alone or unsupported.
The realization that I’ve come to is that the family is the nucleus of the community, and that mothering as well as supporting mothers is a collective journey. To weave a strong fabric as a people, we must make sure the fibers that connect the mamas and the babies must be woven with care and as strongly as possible. Today I send my love to my baby girl…to the young girl in myself that crossed into womanhood, and to all the mamas out there. <3
By Iris Rodriguez