Last Updated on August 3, 2017 by Jenny Pena
I am honored to retell the memoirs of my grandmother’s journey into motherhood, her birth story of my own fathers’ birth!
First I must say, she only gets to share with me the most vivid parts of her story, because, with age comes also picking memory favorites for storage space. To put it nicely! So I get to share what she remembers best. And for me, these tidbits are heavenly treasure!
Treasure the memories
After an hour of questioning, jumping from different subjects, encouraging her to explore her past, brush off the dust from 56 years back, my grandma, mi abuelita, shared with me these few memories of when she became a mother.
(She lives in Bogota, Colombia, so this will be a rough translation from Spanish to English. )
Shortly after my grandparents married at a young 19 years old, my grandmother became pregnant with her first son. At that time, they didn’t have all the technology and pain relief drugs there is available today. So she didn’t know it was a son, or that he would be named after his father.
My dad’s birth
Just before her 20th birthday, she remembers the labor starting in the evening, and that she was taken to the clinic nearby. It was so long ago this clinic probably doesn’t even exist anymore. Back then, the men waited outside as the women were wheeled to labor and delivery room. The nurses and midwives assisted her and shortly after arriving, with much screaming in pain, her son was born….at around 2 or 3 am, she remembers.
Back then, she says, there were no drugs for pain, you had to be strong to give birth. Back then, there weren’t pain killers or contraception, you had the babies and as many babies, she laughed…she had 5 more children. Two at home, and 3 more in the clinic.
Postnatal Traditions from Colombia
The doula that I am now, I encouraged her to remember what life was like after birth? So after resting in the clinic, they sent her home the next day. My abuelita remembered she rested for some time, 40 days, cuarentena. For those 40 days her mother and mother in law took care of her and her baby.
For forty days, they cooked and cleaned for my abuelita. Her mothers helped her stay warm and covered always to prevent any cold or headaches. She said they would wash the baby’s diapers, see, she says, back then we used to use cloth diapers. She was happy to hear I used them for my babies too, and we chatted about the benefits: no rashes, babies potty trained quicker, cheaper.
Then she told me they would drink agua de panela and guarapo. Guarapo??? For me, guarapo is sugar cane juice. She laughed and said yea, guarapo is what the Indians used to make. I reassured her I’m sure they STILL make it, I know our people are still holding onto our traditions. Guarapo she told me, is a drink of chicha…and chicha is a strong drink of fermented pineapple and corn. So Guarapo was the gentle version of chicha, these traditions are music to my ears.
My dad as her baby
Oh grandma, even these few memories make me live it with her as she tells me. She remembers my dad when he was little, a cry baby she said, chillón ! That she made the mistake of putting him to walk all too soon, so that’s why he’s chueco, bowlegged, “yea don’t you notice how he runs?!”, she laughs! Don’t make your children walk soon, she warns, they’ll be chuecos! She jokes that his head would hit the tile so much they had to buy new tiles all the time, and he would bump walls and floors with his hard head! Oh dear!
There you have it my friends, the bits and pieces come together like a puzzle missing pieces here and there, but you can still make out the big picture.
Hope to pick her mind more before all the memories become only hers to treasure.
Thanks for reading!!!
And to my Babbo,
Te amo babbo! Tanto auguri! May God bless you with many more years to come, with health and abundant life! And no more wives hahaha thanks for always being the best dad, putting up with my craziness and stick with me through it all. I love you always babbo!!!