Monday, September 11, 2006

Women's Stories

The baby shower was wonderful! Dotty and LaDonna did a great job of putting everything together. There must have been between 30-40 guests. We held it in the church to accomodate everyone. There was a huge table of foood, lots of gifts, and many wonderful friends to help us celebrate. After everyone filled their plates and settled in their seats, we went around the room and everyone got to introduce themselves, tell how they knew me, how long, and why they selected the bead that they did for my labor necklace. Then they dropped the bead into a basket and passed it to the next person. This was my favorite part. Most of those people in the room I had known for over 20 years. It felt good to have that kind of longevity in friendships. About half the folks there were"non-church" friends. It was fun to have both groups meet one another. There was Lark, whom I met in a women's writing group about 10 years ago, Charlene whom I asked to speak at a conference I was organizing about 15 years ago, now we travel the highways and byways speaking at conferences together about breastfeeding. There was Kati, whom I met at La Leche League when our 18 years olds were babies, and Rebecca, who I developed a bond with while we nursed our now 15 year olds together as new neighbors. The newest friend was Suzanne, our current neighbor whom we met when we moved here a year and a half ago. Suzanne's kids and mine have become indistinguishable as they run back and forth between our houses. It made me feel good to see how filled my life is with these wonderful women. After the bead talk, there was more food, then birth stories. We asked for 2 or 3 thinking the women might be shy, but about 7 women stood up and gave their birth stories in front of the camera. My favorite story was given by June, a dynamo of woman in her 80s that told her story of marrying and having her first baby shortly after WWII. She told how horrified the doctors were that she was having a first baby at the age of 35! Now widowed, June and I are "culture buddies" and we attend plays, concerts, musicals, etc. together. In the past year we've seen several musicals, an African-American women's acapella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and a Japanese Taiko Drum group and hope to catch some African dance, a ballet and, a clarinet performance later this year. June is without a doubt one of my favorite friendships! She's an absolute doll. I want to grow up to be just like her. After the birth stories, I opened gifts. Friends were very kind and generous. I got two car seats and a stroller, all the bedding requested for the crib, and every Winnie-the-Pooh thing imaginable. As excited as I was about getting the physical things we needed for the baby, my favorite part was without a doubt hearing from others how my life has impacted them. I heard it in the bead stories, and the birth stories. My dear friend Rebecca, talked about how when she was in labor at the hospital, she posted her birth plan everywhere. When the nurse came in and told her it would be easier for her if she let her keep the monitor on continuously, Rebecca reminded her that SHE was the one having the baby and that everything should be done to make it easier on HER, not on the nurse! She said she had the strength to say that because I had advised her to make her needs known. Dotty's sweet daughter-in-law told about how I encouraged her after a miscarraige and then again later with nursing difficulties with a new baby. My own daughter-in-law drew the biggest laugh of the day after wishing me a "long and hard labor" after I told someone one who had wished me a short labor, that I prefer to "savor" my labors. These women and their stories stregnthened me. Two women, told me the stories of their own late (and unplanned) pregnancies and how those babies turned out to be a very special part of their families. By the end of the shower, I was absolutely exhausted from trying to take it all in, trying to absorb every bit of the love, the affirmations, the empowerment from such amazing women. I admire them all and feel priviledged to have my life filled with such women.


Melissa Jackson said...

It was a very special day, Sherry. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of it. I have finally selected my beads, yes there is more than one, for your labor necklace.


Laborpayne said...

Thank you, I got your beads after I returned, they are beautiful. I loved the explanation of the beads on the card. I can tell they were thoughtfully chosen.