MY JOURNEY TO BIRTH WORK

One of the earliest moments I can remember is waiting in the lobby of the hospital for my sister to be born. Sitting in the big blue armchair, clutching my Beanie Baby close to my chest, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of my first sibling. From the minute I met Baylie and watched my mother hold her tiny, wiggly body up to her breast, I saw what it meant to be someone’s entire universe – to be a nurturer. With curious eyes, I studied their relationship and the familiarity they found with one another in a single instant. I pretended to nurse my Beanie Baby and tended to it with care and gentleness, the same way I had watched my mother nurse my sister. I saw the way they moved in sync, the way my mother anticipated her needs fluidly. Beyond my conscious awareness, witnessing these moments was establishing the foundation of who I would become.

And so, the seed of the nurturing presence was planted. The different identities I embodied as I grew, all held echoes of those early moments. I was the oldest of three sisters, a role model by birthright and master of “experiential learning”, as my parents lovingly referred to it. I was caretaker to many children in my community, fostering trusted bonds with families outside my own. I was “doula” to my mother at the birth of my second sister, holding her hand and remaining present to her every emotion until Remi was in our arms. I saw from an early age how starved people in this world are for gentleness. I have spent my life collecting tools to BE the gentleness, the absence of judgment, the warmth, and the love. I learned how to listen – truly listen, with my whole self. When I turned to psychology and women, gender & sexuality studies in university, no one was surprised. Analyzing & questioning…embracing compassion & intuition…this was always my calling. As I gathered experiences with the passing of time, and practiced coming back to my most basic nature, the path revealed itself to me. I choose the path of the helper – a holder of safe and loving spaces.

Upon devoting myself to the path of the helper wholeheartedly, I put effort towards aligning my actions and surroundings with supporting and healing. At first, I dove deep into the world of mental health and advocacy. I canvassed the streets of Massachusetts for Planned Parenthood, speaking to strangers about reproductive justice and leaning into grassroots work, which I believe is integral to the betterment of our society. I worked as a therapist, case manager, and skills trainer with special populations in places across the country, from New York City to Central Arizona, fighting for reunification and strengthening of families. I have respectfully served in these communities, working hard to attune myself to their needs and be helpful rather than imposing. I have steadily implemented the observation and sensitivity skills I’ve spent a lifetime cultivating.

Through my mental health and advocacy work, I began to develop a distinct awareness of the inequities and injustices present in the birth industrial complex. In spite of all the challenges, all of the oppression, and all of the violence, I know in my heart that birth has the potential for transcendence. Witnessing the incredible birthing moments depicted on social media, seeing the way so many people triumph one of life’s most significant transitions, moves me in a way that is unparalleled. Birth is the genesis of all that we are, and I believe that we could heal so much in the world by paying more thoughtful attention to birth.

Being a doula feels like a culmination of all I have been growing towards. Like life, birth is visceral, messy, and so incredibly magnificent. I want to help nurture that magic. I want to bring attention to the lack of access to equitable care. I want to help families explore and understand their options in the birth space. I want to help inform people about the Black maternal and infant mortality crisis, and actually take actionable steps to make impactful change in those statistics. I want to disrupt the medical and birth industrial complex as a whole. I want to support and affirm queer families in their reproductive journeys, however that may look to them. I want to support people who choose to terminate their pregnancies, because their choices are valid and there is heartbreakingly little care provided for such transitions. I want to help parents through loss, which is stigmatized and hidden in the birth space, but desperately aches to be seen and held.

I want to help create a space of curiosity, safety, and integration of the mind, body, and spirit.

Because birth is a whole-person experience.
Because all birthing people deserve to be seen and heard in this space.
Because the world needs more gentleness.