Ariane Audet

Mimi, Montreal QC/New Orleans LA (Canada/USA)

Ariane Audet
Mimi, Montreal QC/New Orleans LA (Canada/USA)

I met my partner in New Orleans three years ago in a café. I had fallen in love with the city a year before that, and after I met him, I was like, "I’m moving here!" I came back to Montreal for summer, and during that time, he found an apartment for us and… I probably got pregnant the first day I moved back there! We were supposed to get married in January, but I was torn: I was pregnant and needed the care from Quebec’s great health care system. So, I came back home to give birth to our daughter. I had a C-section because I had a complete placenta previa. On the one hand, I was thankful for modern medicine and to be in Canada; it would have been a death sentence for both of us otherwise. On the other, it was weird to know that I wouldn’t feel the pain of the contractions, that she wouldn’t get that "You’re coming!" signal from being in labor. I knew it in advance, so I was able to prepare. I would talk to her every day, telling her how it would go, that it would be different than what we expected, but that it’d be our way to meet each other. It helped a lot. I don’t regret it, because I’m alive, but I had to mourn the experience. Overall, it went great. My partner was here with us for the birth and the first month, and it was challenging! I’m a bit of an overachiever and I tried to get back on my feet really quickly (too quickly after a C-section.) It was hard to delegate, and I was really tired. But it was fine. Breastfeeding was easy, and I loved it. There’s a side of me that is militant, so I really liked breastfeeding in public. I’ve had comments from people you’d never expect it: women, mothers with children, women with their husbands who shame you because "My husband might see you." I’d be like ‘What did you just say?! Do you cover yourself when you eat?’ I loved breastfeeding. I would sometimes feel a bit like her slave, but we had lovely moments.

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With my partner home the first month, it was difficult. I didn’t have a lot of relationships in my life so I was really used to do everything by myself. It was hard to let go, and specifically to let go of doing things my way. I also felt he wasn’t helping that much. But the second month of her life, he went back to New Orleans and I realized that he was doing much more than I’d thought! I spent a month by myself and when she turned two months old, I too went down there. It was hard. He was working and I was alone all day. I didn’t have any close friends or my family there. We both needed a break at the end of the day, but we couldn’t. In a way, when I had to come back to Montreal after a few months, it felt like a break. I was by myself and it was stressful but at least I was the one who decided everything. Overall, my postpartum period went well. I was a bit nervous because I’ve always had depressive tendencies, but nothing happened. I had wanted to be a mom for so long. Not that it can’t happen to you even if you hope for a child, but it didn’t happen to me. And to have a daughter, I feel it’s easier. I thought I’d understand her better. I also believe that to raise a feminist daughter is easier than to raise a feminist son. By that I mean that to raise your kid gender neutral is easier with a girl. She can wear dresses or pants. You rarely see a guy in a skirt. The only difficulty I still have is to ask for help. Once in a while, I’ll post something on Facebook about needing a break, and I’m still surprised who responds. I have superstar friends who are always there, but sometimes it’s that woman you met twice in your life who’s going to come to your house and make you breakfast!

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I’m adopted and to have a child of my own was confrontational in a way I had not anticipated. Both my parents are white. My biological mother is Haitian, and I never knew her. She gave me away when I was five weeks old. When my daughter also turned five-week, I was like, "Oh my God. I was that little! It’s crazy!" You know, I had abortions in my life, and I never regretted my decision. To me, carrying a child to term and then giving it away in adoption seems like a far more difficult thing to do. It gave me such immense respect for my biological mother to have done that. But it was challenging as a kid. For example, I always had a lot of complexes. Whether you want it or not, when you’re a little girl, your mother is the most beautiful person on earth! It was the same for me, but… she was white! Automatically, it’s complicated. My mother was also very focused on my weight, and she’s kind of doing the same thing with my daughter. It bothers me because I want her to know that she’s much more than that: she’s smart, observant, and strong. Also… she’s still a baby! There was a lot of things we weren’t really allowed to talk about, like my difference. My parents are the perfect liberals, but they tend to excuse people who I know are racist by saying they’re just tired or stupid. When I was young, they often told me that they’d forgotten that I was black, that I was simply "their daughter." I know it came from a good place, but it created this world where I couldn’t talk about my insecurities of having a different body or of being the only black girl in elementary school. They always thought that racism was kind of over, which, obviously, is not the case. Trump has been elected, right?

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My partner is white, I’m black, and our daughter is mixed. Her skin is really pale but she has curly hair. What do I do with this? It is hard because I want to pass on something that I did not have and had to create for myself: a black heritage. That’s one thing I kind of blame my parents for: they never put me in contact with black culture. I never learned how to do my hair when I was a kid – thank god for Youtube’s tutorials now! I had to learn the culture through books, movies, and music. I only know what it means to be black in my own skin and to be seen by others as a black woman in a city where we’re the minority. I think that’s why when I travel to New Orleans, I find it restful. The city is about 50/50 and I’d never experienced that, not being the minority in a city. At the same time, I am clearly privileged and I am aware of that: people don’t understand why I’d want to live over there. I’ve also been raised thinking that the sky was the limit and that I was entitled to my rights, which was great: I never had problems getting a job and years ago, if I had been pulled over by a cop, I would have talked back to him. Not anymore. I’m much more aware of the dangers, especially in the US. So, I know all the negative aspects of being black, but without the positive of having a community. I’m not sure how to share that with my daughter. I guess I can only do it with what I have, hoping it’ll be enough: literature, music, books with inspiring role models, and communication. At the same time, I don’t want to negate her white heritage. Although… all of her family is white except me! She just turned two but already, the way people look at us is different. In a way, I already have to prepare her to defend herself. So, on top of the inherent and constant doubts of motherhood, I have to take charge of teaching her about her difference before society does it. It’s going to be a lot of work. I've got more readings to do!