Becoming Mama, Ongoing

In July 2019 I became a mama to Musa Jade Rua. I gave birth to Musa at home on our red velvet couch with just Tehseen – my boyfriend, his dad – and then (toward the end) our midwife, Lizzie. Having seen the spiral of intervention that can occur with a medical induction, I self-induced with an age-old pagan remedy: castor oil. I laboured for five hours using only endogenous pain relief – breath, sound, imagery (I am a synaesthete) and, above all, being body. It was incredible. When Musa came out he inhaled my waters and could not breathe. He was on a threshold, in the borderlands – evoking his second second name (Rua, meaning ‘two’ in te reo Māori). Lizzie resuscitated him with three breaths created by her hands, and he was taken to hospital in an ambulance with her and Tehseen. A new midwife stayed with me as I lay on the couch shaking. Still stunned, I birthed his placenta, ate and cleaned up until the ambulance returned to take me too. I melted into Tehseen but was not able to touch Musa until he was twelve hours old, when I broke the rules and reached my hand into his incubator. We became trapped in a painful cycle of needing to breastfeed to leave the hospital but needing to leave the hospital to breastfeed. I was violently shamed for first having had a homebirth and then for wanting to only breastfeed. I heard horrific stories from other mamas in there about the way they were treated, particularly when in labour. After five days we got Musa out. This entire experience – from homebirth through trauma and medicalisation – made me even more passionate about cracking the dominance of patriarchal, capitalist, colonialist approaches. And I remain blown away by the power of mama-bodies and mama-love. The image above is of our couch – afterwards, I painted it some magic feet.