Dear Women of Juárez,
I don’t have the words to express the gift it is to serve you. You have touched my heart in a way that I could not have imagined. For three years, it has been my dream to come to El Paso to learn how to be a midwife. The main reason why I came to Maternidad la Luz is because of you. I know that it is important to receive medical care in your own language and I knew that this wasn’t necessarily a reality at the birth clinic. As a daughter of immigrants, I know personally what can happen when you are unable to communicate effectively. It is a danger to your health and general well-being to not be understood by your doctors and gynecologists. Moreover, I deeply understand what it means to be in constant conflict with the United States. This is my first time living on the border between this country and Mexico. I don’t know the struggle of having to cross the bridge constantly for what this country has done. I am aware that this is not Texas; this is occupied Mexico. I understand that you cross because you know another life is possible.
I imagine the time you spend waiting in line in the abrasive heat in order to come to the birth clinic. I am surprised by your strength to deal with the border patrol while you are pregnant, sometimes already in labor with back to back contractions. You have taught me during my time here what it means to be strong and beautiful. My god, you are so beautiful. Seeing you with your families and friends has shown me what I want in my own life. I am inspired by your dedication to your children and by what you do to make the best future for them.
Some of you come to us because you want to experience a natural birth. Some of you have had terrible experiences in the hospital and have sworn never to give birth there again. Some of you cannot pay the expensive hospital bills. Some of you hope to attain the opportunities that your children will have as citizens of the United States. All of your reasons are valid and real. Now I understand the privilege I have as an American. Because of this, I do everything I can every chance I get. Because of this, I stay awake for you, helping you in labor. I recognize the strength and perseverance in your eyes. Because of this, I try to do everything I can so that you don’t have to go to the hospital. In the same breath, when we have to take a women to the hospital, it is only because often our hands are tied and we want to make sure she is out of harm’s way.
If I don’t see you again, please know that I remember every baby that I have had the honor of receiving in my hands. I know that it is a gift to be here in this moment with you. It is my duty to keep this space sacred for your incredible transformations. I kiss your foreheads and wipe the sweat from your faces. I give you water to drink and everything that I can so that you don’t suffer. I know about the violence that women live with in Juárez. I want to wipe away this pain with the love I have for you and your children. When you go and see other doctors and gynecologists, demand respect. Demand that they explain everything to you. Your bodies are sacred. I want to serve you for ever, however my community needs me to come back with everything that I have learned. You will forever be in my heart. I will serve women for the rest of my life with the memories of all the births I have witnessed. I love you all so much.
* A community member on World Pulse, J. Buchanan, was gracious enough to translate my letter. Thanks!