The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

A Letter from “Ibu” Robin Lim, Bali, Indonesia

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In Bali, where I live in a big bamboo and grass house, “Ibu” means mother… I am a mom, to 8 people ages 4 to 34! I am also a midwife, which gives me the astonishing day and night attendance to miracles. …(A) dear sister~writer living in Paris, urged me to look at The Mom Egg… and I have, and it’s an amazing project. The title and the graphic are perfect, for as a midwife who has squatted by the birth of a few thousand souls, I can tell you, it is not only the Baby who is Born… The Mother virtually dies, and goes to the land of the Souls, to bring her baby Earth-side. Not all of the Moms come back: the WHO statistics on maternal mortality tell us that a woman dies every minute of every day, as a complication of pregnancy and childbirth. These are women in the prime of their lives; they are dying because their care is NOT a priority for governments. (We can get way into the politics in another discussion… I know about the Millennium goals, but I work at a family health clinic and birth center on an island where hemorrhage after childbirth, due to malnutrition (read preventable!) is the leading cause of death, and I am not finding a way through the labyrinth of applications for grants to support this work. There is the ART of Catching Babies Safely, and the Business of being an NGO, and I don’t find the two often meet.

Back to why The Mom Egg is a perfect name (well in my opinion) for a literary magazine… because, IF the Mom returns from the land of the souls with her Baby, she is indeed reborn, just as the woman emerges from the egg in your graphic! She is something more than human. As a Birth~Keeper, I can tell you the young woman who comes to us “Bidans” (midwives) weeping at 1 cm dilation, is not the same woman who howls or sings or grunts or just plain sweats her baby out. The journey to motherhood is Heroic, I wish we had a better word for it… my on-line thesaurus says: Heroic, adjective: Brave, courageous, valiant, valorous, lionhearted, superhuman, intrepid, bold, fearless, daring, audacious; unafraid, undaunted, dauntless, doughty, plucky, manly, stout-hearted, mettlesome; gallant, chivalrous, noble; informal gutsy, spunky, ballsy. YES, all these words apply… but they are utterly male and I never have met a man who can squeeze a baby out of his body, yet. So, crack a woman open, and you get a MOM.

OK Moms who adopt… they get a longer labor, perhaps years instead of hours or days, for cracking open is necessary to become a Mom. Adoption counts. (BTW I had 5 of my babies vaginally. Two came to me free when my dear friend died and I married her husband. Turn the page, at age 50 a family from Sumba dropped a baby in our lap, EllyAnna was green and dying at nearly 10 months of age….

As a “Lola” (means Grandma) I have been so blessed, I got to receive into my hands my daughter’s baby, Zhouie who is now 13 and taller than me, and my daughter-in-love’s baby, Bodhi. Imagine the intensity of midwifing my grandchildren into the world.

I have attended women at birth after disasters, ie the 2004 Tsumani in Aceh, the 2006 earthquake in Jyogja, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Sadly, when disaster strikes reproductive health is left by the wayside. What women must endure when their babies are born to disaster is shattering (but that’s only a word). There are no words to describe what I have seen women handle, birthing in tents, in the remains of hospitals, no food, no water for drinking or hand washing, no home to go home to afterwards.

This was supposed to be a little note, before I run off to clinic, to say HI, can we meet on-line, or come and visit me someday in Indonesia…

My daughter, Deja Bernhardt, made an award winning documentary about my work, “Guerrilla Midwife” you can see the trailer on her website: www.skwattacamp.com

To find out more about the clinics I work for and support go to the Bumi Sehat website: www.bumisehatbali.org

I will be in the USA in October, to teach and the Midwives Alliance of North America conference in Tennessee, and to fundraise for Bumi Sehat (means Healthy Mother Earth Foundation)

OM Shanti, Love… Ibu Robin

Ibu_Robin_Lim_CPMRobin Lim, CPM
Pengurus, Executive Director
Bumi Sehat Foundation International
http://www.bumisehatbali.org/

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