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The Invisible Minority Mama

1
Labour… the event that’s pencilled into your diary as a definite, with no definites, no calendar invite, this is your party baby! There’s no opting out of this one, no deferring, it’s the inevitable…that baby is coming to join the world by any means necessary.

I didn’t give labour much thought initially. I attended a prenatal class and watched documentaries my husband banned me from, as I cried every episode.  For medical reasons I was told that I may have to have a caesarean section, I have scoliosis. No one could really explain why,

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just that it was ‘best’.  I have nothing against c sections, it’s just that I’ve spent the majority of my life in and out of hospital, and been on the operating table more times than I care to remember. I take surgery very seriously, and if there’s a path that safely avoids that route, I’ll take that thanks.

One day I went into the maternity unit.  I was checked over and thankfully all was fine. Before I left, the doctor asked me if I had made a decision on whether or not to have a c section. The doctor told me that if I gave birth

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naturally I would end up having an emergency c section and that in those instances the doctors primary objective is to get the baby out quickly. According to her if in this emergency organs are damaged or arteries cut, that’s just collateral damage I’ll have to accept! Through tears of fear, I signed the consent forms.

C section day arrived… Bag packed and my husband and I went to the hospital to meet our baby. The consultants did their early morning rounds and asked me how I was and what I was there for. I laughed and said ‘You’ve booked me

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in for a c section I don’t even want’. The consultant then sat on my bed and asked me what I wanted… I explained what had happened and how throughout my pregnancy no one had explained anything to me and I felt invisible.

No one knows how labour will go for anyone, and why was I any different?  The doctor smiled, and said ‘you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do’. He told me to go home.  A week later gave birth to my son naturally. Whether it was possible or not, someone believed I had the right to choose. He empowered me

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that morning and gave me my voice back.

Two years later, pregnant again, I went into labour in the middle of the night, awoken by feelings I’d had a dodgy burrito. We got an uber to the hospital and I was literally struggling not to have the baby in the back seat of the car! We arrived at the hospital, it was quiet… just a dozing security guard who although manning the entrance to a maternity unit seemed baffled that a woman had arrived in the middle of the night in labour…

I felt a  sense of relief, that I was in safe hands, and that it

SelfishMother.com
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would all be ok. As the pain increased and I begged for someone to help me and give me some pain relief.   I remember in that moment being silent and realising I was on my own. It felt like an out of body experience.  Amidst the confusion they finally gave me gas and air, my daughters head popped out, they all looked visibly shocked and the rest is history. No one was listening to me, I felt invisible and vulnerable.

Women deserves to be heard. To have the freedom to make informed choices about their bodies, to be listened to and understood. To be

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given the power of autonomy over their fabric, their mind, their uterus.  When you take away a woman’s freedom, you strip her of her dignity, you extinguish her power, you make her invisible.

Labour can be traumatic for some, life changing for all. I don’t know why my cries were ignored, or wishes mocked, but I hear all too often of the plight of black women in labour. We may be strong, but we deserve to be heard.  This is freedom.

SelfishMother.com
Tinu Alikor

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- 8 Mar 19

Labour… the event that’s pencilled into your diary as a definite, with no definites, no calendar invite, this is your party baby! There’s no opting out of this one, no deferring, it’s the inevitable…that baby is coming to join the world by any means necessary.

I didn’t give labour much thought initially. I attended a prenatal class and watched documentaries my husband banned me from, as I cried every episode.  For medical reasons I was told that I may have to have a caesarean section, I have scoliosis. No one could really explain why, just that it was ‘best’.  I have nothing against c sections, it’s just that I’ve spent the majority of my life in and out of hospital, and been on the operating table more times than I care to remember. I take surgery very seriously, and if there’s a path that safely avoids that route, I’ll take that thanks.

One day I went into the maternity unit.  I was checked over and thankfully all was fine. Before I left, the doctor asked me if I had made a decision on whether or not to have a c section. The doctor told me that if I gave birth naturally I would end up having an emergency c section and that in those instances the doctors primary objective is to get the baby out quickly. According to her if in this emergency organs are damaged or arteries cut, that’s just collateral damage I’ll have to accept! Through tears of fear, I signed the consent forms.

C section day arrived… Bag packed and my husband and I went to the hospital to meet our baby. The consultants did their early morning rounds and asked me how I was and what I was there for. I laughed and said ‘You’ve booked me in for a c section I don’t even want’. The consultant then sat on my bed and asked me what I wanted… I explained what had happened and how throughout my pregnancy no one had explained anything to me and I felt invisible.

No one knows how labour will go for anyone, and why was I any different?  The doctor smiled, and said ‘you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do’. He told me to go home.  A week later gave birth to my son naturally. Whether it was possible or not, someone believed I had the right to choose. He empowered me that morning and gave me my voice back.

Two years later, pregnant again, I went into labour in the middle of the night, awoken by feelings I’d had a dodgy burrito. We got an uber to the hospital and I was literally struggling not to have the baby in the back seat of the car! We arrived at the hospital, it was quiet… just a dozing security guard who although manning the entrance to a maternity unit seemed baffled that a woman had arrived in the middle of the night in labour…

I felt a  sense of relief, that I was in safe hands, and that it would all be ok. As the pain increased and I begged for someone to help me and give me some pain relief.   I remember in that moment being silent and realising I was on my own. It felt like an out of body experience.  Amidst the confusion they finally gave me gas and air, my daughters head popped out, they all looked visibly shocked and the rest is history. No one was listening to me, I felt invisible and vulnerable.

Women deserves to be heard. To have the freedom to make informed choices about their bodies, to be listened to and understood. To be given the power of autonomy over their fabric, their mind, their uterus.  When you take away a woman’s freedom, you strip her of her dignity, you extinguish her power, you make her invisible.

Labour can be traumatic for some, life changing for all. I don’t know why my cries were ignored, or wishes mocked, but I hear all too often of the plight of black women in labour. We may be strong, but we deserve to be heard.  This is freedom.

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Tinu Alikor

Mother-of-two, Tinu Alikor, also known as Tee or Tin Tin, has written for publications including The Observer and interviewed world leaders for Sky News. She has worked for the BBC, most notably recorded and presented programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC 1. London born and raised in a single parent home, but presently shuffling between Zurich and London with her brood, she has lived and worked globally and enjoys travelling. A writer, presenter, artist, food lover, entrepreneur, project manager, tech enthusiast, afro advocate and blogger who after 10 years of service in government, is currently in her toughest gig to date…motherhood! “I’ve spent so long people pleasing, being selfless and putting other interests before my own…. now, whilst my parenting responsibilities remain I’m daring myself to just be me and make me a priority. Join me on this shameless, limitless journey to finding my happy place, and proving that YOU CAN do anything you put your mind to”

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