SciHonor Devotion's Midwifery Fund
If you know me personally, you know that I am passionate about birth, education and writing. So, I apologize for being so long winded but it’s in me and I just HAVE TO get it out. Thank you SOOOOO Much for taking the time to read my story and help me with my goal.
Here's my story...
I was 12 years old when I first heard anyone talk about having baby’s at home. Ironically, my cousin Jameelah who was the same age that I was told me that she did not want to go to the hospital to have her babies when we grew up. At the time, I thought she was nuts! Why would anyone want to have their baby outside of a hospital? I just couldn’t understand and in that moment, there was nothing that she could say that would convince me that she knew what she was talking about. Years later, as I got older and began to think about having children, I began to speak to a lot of women about their experiences. Fortunately, these women had beautiful birth experiences that didn’t plant fear in me about giving birth and instead, helped to alleviate the fear that somehow had been instilled in me as a child and young adult. These women were women who had babies at home and in birthing centers with the assistance of midwives. Some of these midwives were Lay Midwives who had no formal training, yet were experienced in 'catching babies', while others were certified professional midwives or certified nurse midwives who had chosen to go to school to learn about this craft. My grandmother told me stories about her being born at home into the hands of midwives in South Carolina, which prompted me to think more about midwifery and how being cared for by midwives was a practice that women had always done until fairly recently.
I gave birth to my son in the year 2000 and he was caught by the hands of a midwife. My experience was surreal actually. At a moment when most people would have been afraid, I was so calm and felt like my baby and I were very safe. My son was a “big baby” born at 9lbs 4oz. I pushed his head out while sitting on a birthing chair and his wide shoulders wouldn’t allow him to be born completely. These skilled midwives told me to get into specific positions which allowed my baby to work along with my body and to be born. When my son was born, initially, he was not breathing. The room was silent. Yet, I was calm and unworried. I somehow knew that my child was safe and would be fine. With their assistance, he began to breath and he was placed right into my arms. Years later, I discovered that what those midwives did to help my son be born safely was called “The Gaskin Maneuver”. Would they have been able to help me to have a natural birth in a hospital under those same conditions? Would they have known that this maneuver could be used as opposed to cutting me open somehow to get my son out? Would he have been taken away from me for observation and not allowed to nurse afterwards? Probably.
On the day that my son was born, I learned in just a few moments that… A midwife’s hands are special hands. They are wise hands. They are healing hands. They are hands that do not consider race, religion, class or any other divisive characteristic when they are at work because they are loving hands above all. They are hands that know how and when to be gentle and hands that know how and when to be firm. And a midwife is skilled in knowing just how to balance all of that.
After that experience, I decided that I would become a Labor Doula so that I could support women during their pregnancy, birth and postpartum periods. I wanted them to know that they too could give birth without fear. I started to self-study and had a second child. She too was born into the hands of midwives. She was surrounded by those who loved her before she even arrived. Shortly after she was born in 2001, while still nursing her (breast full of milk and all. :-) Mamas yall know that feeling :-)), I took my DONA Doula Training Class with Debra Pascali-Bonaro and eventually became certified in 2003. I simultaneously trained with CAPPA to become a Postpartum Doula and Childbirth Educator.
I began to support women any way that I could. I worked for a grant based doula agency. I volunteered at women’s shelters. I spoke at events and health fairs. I gathered with other Doulas, Midwives and other childbirth professionals and spoke to women about their birthing options. Along with some other women, we created the New York City Chapter of The International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC), where we put together the annual conference. I accomplished many other things over the years as well. In 2006, I began to work with and assist a homebirth midwife named, Memaniye Cinque, CNM of Dyekora Sumda Midwifery Services. While, I lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, she lived in Brooklyn, NY, but I didn’t care. I wanted to learn as much as I could. I also worked with Sakina O’Uhuru and supported Mothers and Families with their homebirths. I went to bed with my phone by my side, ringer on the highest setting, and with my doula bag and the children’s bags packed…Just in case. I got up and hit the road with the children at any hour, day or night. With the support of family and friends, I was able to leave them while I went to work and didn't have to worry about them getting their homeschool lessons done. I homeschooled for over 8 years and did birth work whenever I could. During my years with Memaniye and Sakina, I learned so much and continued to further my education by taking workshops and classes pertaining to women’s reproductive health and childbearing. Until… things changed and I went through a very nasty separation. At that point, I put my goals on hold. I found schools for the children and got a job that I love working with special needs adults. I really enjoy my job (although they don’t pay much Ha!) but, I still have this undying love for birth. And although, I do birth work from time to time and mentor new doulas, the desire to give all that I can and all within my power has never left me, even when I thought that I was moving on and away from it.
I realize now that my children are getting older and are in high school, that I can’t stop pursuing my dreams of being “With Woman”. They will soon be gone and all of those years that I’ve sacrificed for them will be gone too. So, what better time than now to get back on track and continue to make forward movement?
The statistics regarding premature births, low birth weight babies, infant mortality and maternal morbidity and mortality are horrendous! Competent Midwives reduce these risks. As a woman of color, I have to ask, why is my baby 3 times more likely to die than a white baby, no matter what my socio-economic status is? Our communities are underserved, women need to have access to affordable and adequate prenatal care, supported by a midwifery model of care, educated, given intimate support during pregnancy, labor, birth and immediate postpartum and given options. Unfortunately, women don’t always get that. My plan is to uphold the Midwifery Model of Care because babies deserve a chance to live and mothers deserve a chance to give them that chance.
There is such a need for education and social change, and birth workers are on the front lines to serve, inform and protect women, children, families and communities. I can’t just sit back and watch it all happen right before my eyes. I have to do this! I plant seeds for change, even if the change is small, even if I could saved one of the 173 babies that died before their first birthday right here in Connecticut in 2013, it will all be worth it…
Currently, I am mentoring new doulas who have the same desires that I do and helping to guide them along their way, grown and made from the beginning.
Over the years, I’ve taken trainings in Pregnancy and Domestic Violence, Sexual Trauma and its Effect on Birth, Homeopathy for Pregnancy and Birth, Fertility Issues, Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Birth, Breastfeeding Beyond the Basics, Perinatal Loss and Bereavement, Midwifery Assistance, Vaginal Steaming, Abdominal Massage, Ancient Holistic Postpartum Care and much more! And now, it’s time to move on.
For starters, I’ve enrolled in the WomanCraft Midwifery Education Program and will be traveling to Massachusetts for the hands-on portion of my studies. It does come with an expense though and the books alone are killing me…already! Of course no one else from the hood is enrolled, so I have no partner that I could carpool with or even share the expense of some books with and these books are not found at the local library. If this is killing me now, I KNOW that my future Midwifery School will definitely hurt my pockets. The tuition and cost of books and supplies is a lot. Some of the books and textbooks alone are $50, $80, even $130 each… and there are several! Sometimes, I have to ask myself… What have you gotten yourself into Sci? But then, I remember my whole purpose, my calling… To be “With Woman”.
So, here I am, with my open hands hoping they will soon become a midwife's hands, those special hands, those wise hands, those healing hands, those hands that do not consider race, class or any other divisive characteristic when they are at work because ultimately, my hands are loving hands. And now it’s time for me to find MY BALANCE.
You contributions will go towards any tuition, books, application fees, registration fees for workshops, and other acquired expenses like travel costs, etc. Your investments in me will serve as reminders that I am not in this alone and that I have a whole village and even neighboring villages who will support me through this. You can’t even imagine how much every donation, no matter the size, means to me. It’s more than just a donation. Each donation represents a continuing promise that I have made to continue to serve women and families with tender, loving, educated and competent care. Anything that you give will be passed along to mothers, babies, families and communities in the form of Birth Joy and Love.
I plan to keep this fundraiser open and rolling. I have current midwifery education expenses and will probably continue to for the next couple of years it seems. LOL
I give respect and honor to all of the midwives before me who have caught babies safely way before there were doctors and hospitals, and those who know when to pass on a pregnancy that is high risk and should be managed with the assistance of a medical doctor with technological means when it is out of the scope of a normal pregnancy or birth.
Additional Information and Resources on Doulas and Midwives…
What is a Labor Doula?
A Labor Doula is a woman who serves and cares for other women during their pregnancies, through labor and just after giving birth. A Labor Doula provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support before, during and just after the birth to the mother and her family.
What are Some Benefits of Labor Doula Support?
Studies have shown that when a Labor Doula is present at a woman’s birth, there are fewer medical interventions such as inductions, forceps and vacuum extraction, and cesareans, fewer complications, labors are shorter, and babies breastfeed more often and easier and babies are healthier.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
A Postpartum Doulas assists families who are bringing home a new baby, whether that is through birth or adoption. A postpartum doula is there to help a new family in those first days and weeks after birth or bringing baby home. Even experienced parents benefit from the support of a Postpartum Doula.
What is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)?
A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is a knowledgeable, skilled and independent midwifery practitioner who has met the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). The CPM is the only international credential that requires knowledge about out-of-hospital birth.
What is a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)?
CNMs are licensed, independent health care providers with prescriptive authority in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico. CNMs are defined as primary care providers under federal law. In addition to Home, Hospital or Birthing Center births, they also do annual exams, write prescriptions, provide basic nutrition counseling, parenting education, patient education, and do reproductive health visits.
What is the Midwifery Model of Care?
“The Midwives Model of Care includes: monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle. providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support.” Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA). www.MANA.org
* Thank You So Much For Helping Me To MakeThis Happen. Peace!
In Birth Joy and Love,
A picture of me supporting a mother during labor.
Assisting Memaniye Cinque, CNM at a homebirth in NYC. I LOVE This FAMILY!!! I was able to assist them with both births and provide postpartum care. :-)
Birth Matters Rally - Fall 2015
Birth Mama Postpartum Training :-) - This training was AMAZING!!!
Thank you for your support!!!
In Birth Joy and Love,
So proud of you for knowing when and continuing to follow your dreams. I will be sharing this information and although i am currently bedridden i hope to be well enough to get to the bank in order to assist you in your financial needs. Perhaps i can set up a monthly direct deposit from my account to yours. Will check on that Monday