I’ve ad this notion floating around in my head since the beginning of the semester when we watch a Walk to Beautiful and discussed early mother hood. My notion is that in countries with a lower life expectancy (and assuming that people often die way before the nation’s expected life expectancy age) there is a sort of need to have children earlier. Ethiopia for example has a life expectancy of 58.74 years old while the US has a life expectancy of 80.51 for females. That’s a difference of nearly 22 years. Assuming a lot of women don’t actually make it to this age Ethiopian women would have less time to have and care for the same number of children as American women even though they tend to have more children than American women. I feel like this explains a need to have children sooner so that you are alive long enough to raise them and help them through the early years of motherhood. However, I do recognize that having children young is a part of why these women have lower life expectancies.
In another one of my classes, we talked about adoption and it occurred to me that it’s quite relevant to our class. In this instance I am speaking of giving a child up for adoption right after birth. In many states, the mother is not allowed to consent to adoption for up to 72 hours. Meaning that even if a mother wants to give her child up for adoption right after birth, she cannot legally do so until three days after the baby is born. I think this is very interesting because the mother would either have to care for the child for three days and then give it up or have the child be taken care of by the state until the timer is up.
I saw this kind of like the abortion debate. Clearly different, but still a woman is being coerced by the government to take care of and keep a child she does not want. Even if a woman is sure she does not want to, or cannot afford to keep the child, caring for the child for three days could be very confusing. I’ve included a link that lists each state and when the birth mother can consent to adoption. Do you all think this is a way for the state to convince a mother to keep a child or if having a time frame is ok?
I’m not sure how it came up but a few of my friends and I were talking about something and one told us the story of how she was born and I thought it fitting to share with you all.
She writes,”I was born in the beautiful city of Khartoum, Sudan in Soba hospital at 4AM, upside down and with no electricity. There was only one doctor around and he was sleeping. They woke him a little while before it was time for my mother to push. He had to start the generator and others lit candles as there was no electricity.”
She’s almost 21 years old and born in 1994. I compared her birth to what I assume mine was like in Staten Island, New York. I had electricity and my mother received an epidural, but we both made it and so did our mothers. I was amazed by her story not in an, “Oh my goodness how did you make it” kind of way, but in a “the pure power of nature kind of way”.
We previously compared the United States and rural Ethiopia. Originally I was going to post this as a “Birth in Two Nations” blog but I found that Ila’s story was related to more than one country and circumstance. I was reminded of the story of Monique’s friend in Monique and the Mango Rains while reading the first block quote from Ila. Firstly, she worked all the way up until her pregnancy. This was just like the case in Mali, however, Ila found rest for a month after giving birth whereas the women in Mali were not so lucky. Though it was urged that they take a break, the duties of life usually did not allow for this. At first I chucked this up to the fact that in South Calcutta Ila had her in-laws to help but in Mali the woman may live with her in-laws but she was expected to serve them as well as opposed to being served by them.
Secondly, I drew a parallel to American births when Ila made mention of a nurse doing all the check ups but a doctor delivering the baby. We discussed this in class while talking about the pros and cons of hospital birth. Though her birth took place in a nursing home (which I took to be similar to a birthing center) it still seemed to have the level of intimacy of a hospital which is low. More autonomy is removed in not being told the sex of the child before birth even if you would like to know (though this is probably in the best interest of the child as girls may have been aborted).
Lastly, I drew a relation to Adaora’s presentation. Indian has several religions and Ila’s wasn’t stated but I wonder what role religion had in her birth process. As Adaora stated for the Hausa of Northern Nigeria, the Muslim religion had an effect on what medical care a woman in labor could receive. For Ila it did not seem to matter the gender of the health professionals but the husband nor his parents were allowed to be present. However, her male relative was the one who brought her to the nursing home (which would have also been the case for the Hausa). I found it quite interesting how this story seemed to have bits and pieces of the different cultures we had discussed, a perfect example of the crossroads developing India finds itself, between a grasping onto of the traditional and a deserve for new Western ways of doing things.
There were clear differences between birth in A Walk to Beautiful and Born in the USA. Here, I would like to call attention to the within nation differences and use that to address the between nation differences. During Born in the USA we saw several different types of births in America. Though it wasn’t a complete list it definitely gave enough perspectives to be labeled as birth in America. In A Walk to Beautiful, only one type of birth was seen and we have labeled it, in our class, birth in Ethiopia. I think this is an unfair label. As stated in class, a lot of women in Ethiopia, especially in cities, give birth in a hospital. Though the problem of fistulas is a grave one, it presents only one view. I think we should be cautious in taking one view, especially our first and only view, to be the beacon of truth for an entire people.