A friend called yesterday. She has just had her second baby a month back. And she has a breast infection.
My friend is a journalist, infact she reported on medicine and health issues for a long stretch. This is her second baby. She has gone through motherhood very much in the same way as she would go through anything else, passionately and armed to her teeth with research. Yet she spent the night in harrowing pain, pumping her milk, because the doctor insisted she must be in pain because she was engorged and not because she has a infection.
She tells me yesterday that she went through the same harrowing pain for days after the birth of her first child. The doctor insisted even then that it was unlikely she had an infection.
This time round, after a whole night of unending pain she called the doctor again and insisted that it was not engorgement, but an infection. She finally said it, Doctor i know my breasts, i know breast feeding, i know engorgement- this is an infection. She insisted that she was not a first time mother, that was possibly the clinching line. As if only experience, not instinct and common sense mattered. The doctor called her for a sonography and it was an infection. The person doing the sonography said she had come at a good time, if the infection had been neglected it would have become an abcess, and would have required heavy duty medical intervention, not to mention the days of pain. My friend asked how often she saw women with infections that had gone untreated, the answer, oh its most common!
i go back to the time soon after i delivered. all i wanted to do to was listen to my body, its rhythm, and find my baby's rhythm. i was lucky to have a doctor, nurses, and family/friends who helped me along. but everyone else i knew went through a different ordeal- one in which they were supposed to trust everything and everyone except themselves. it made me furious. i did a long rant on this.
but a certain rhythm had already been disrupted, long before i ever imagined i would have a baby. and it was not about preparing the body for a baby, but about being in touch with the body just for the pleasure of it. morality, modern medicine, a disdain and distrust for all things visceral broke that rhythm. for me the pleasure of motherhood was deeply connected with soaking in a new experience of the body, through my pregnancy, and after.
there is a performance of lady saw from jamaica in my film. she shouts out to the audience before she goes onto sing this - she extolls, love your pussy baby, love it.... the song, the performance is astounding for me not for the explicit lyrics, but for the fact that it is addressed to the women in the audience. They are the audience to a song objectifying the body. The body is not objectified for the male gaze alone.
And if only motherhood could be all about the mother finding her rhythm- in her body, in her emotions, in her choices...