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For her son

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

For her son

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The news of an impending pregnancy would make many women giddy with sheer delight, but for Samiann Harper, her response was sheer terror. It wasn’t that she feared the thought of getting pregnant, battling with morning sickness and so on, it simply wasn’t something she longed for at this time in her life.
“I was still studying at Barbados Community College (BCC) and when I did a pregnancy test initially, I was in a state of disbelief,” she recalled. “I went to the doctor the following day and he confirmed it. But all I kept thinking about was my mum’s reaction. She had me when she was 19 years old and she didn’t want  me to do the same thing.”
Though Samiann was set to chart a different course, the pregnancy was a diversion that she didn’t count on at this point.
Since Samiann was living at her grandmother, it made it easy to avoid her mother or the conversation that she dreaded. So she did the next best thing.
“I was too scared of her reaction,” the 21-year-old Samiann said. “So I got my two aunts to tell her. I was at my grandmother when I got a telephone call from her and that’s how I knew they had told her the news.”
Even after the news broke Samiann still avoided her mother during the majority of her pregnancy. It wasn’t the ideal situation but, she admitted that she felt like she had let her mother down. Since she had close friends who recently had babies, she leaned on them along with her aunts for advice and encouragement during the majority of her pregnancy.
“For me it wasn’t the way I wanted things to happen either,” Samiann revealed. “My mother was a single parent, and so too are most women in my family. Unfortunately you don’t see a lot of nuclear families in Barbados, most of them are headed by women.”
Samiann who is studying social work at BCC, knows intimately about the matrifocal family dynamic in Barbados. She too admits that she would love to be the one to break the cycle and have her son grow up with both his parents.
“I do not want my son to be another statistic, so I’m trying hard to keep my relationship together.”
But she admits that her relationship with her mother turned around two weeks before she gave birth and afterwards.
“I went through 17 hours of labour and after it was over my mother was  the first person through the door along with my boyfriend and his mother.  Now you can’t find a grandmother who is so into her grandson.”
Samiann gave her son the name Oshea, which means “mighty man of God” and credits him with giving her a renewed focus in her life.
 “I’m going back to school in September and finish up, because I have to do my best for him,” Samiann said. “Just because you have a child doesn’t mean that your life has to end. I want to show to my son that you can still accomplish your dreams no matter what detours come.”