I’ve always been fascinated with birth. Starting from age 5 when I would show peers and family friends my mom’s pregnancy and childbirth book from the mid 1980’s that had clear, realistic, emotional photos of labor and birth, I was bursting to share with the world the beauty and complex nature of birth from a young age.
When I was fourteen I was really into ordering zines and by fate I ordered one from an author who was certifying as a birth doula. I had never heard the word doula before and was immediately drawn to the profession because it involved supporting the birthing person through one of the most important and pivotal experiences in their lives. As someone who has always been a caretaker and nurturer I knew instantly that it was something I was called to do.
But deep down I wanted ultimately to be a midwife but doubted myself and my ability because of societal norms. Even while I pursued my bachelor’s degree in English and completed an MFA in creative writing (specifically poetry), it never left my mind. I devoured books, documentaries, and other resources on birth work and reproductive activism because I was so passionate. This interest leaked into all areas of my life—from writing poems in my MFA program about doula work to educating friends and family about options outside of hospital birth. I knew that birthwork—specifically midwifery—was my calling.
Because of that in 2018 I began my birth work journey by taking the Louisville Doula Project full spectrum doula training and then did my birth and postpartum doula training in the fall of 2018 with Doula Trainings International. Since then I have been heavily involved in providing full spectrum doula care with the Louisville Doula Project and hold the position within that organization of Secretary of the Collective. I helped lobby with the Kentucky Home Birth Coalition for the licensing of certified professional midwives (CPMs) in Kentucky, and have provided support as a doula for birth, miscarriage, and abortion experiences.
I am over the moon happy that two weeks ago I was accepted in the Birthwise Midwifery School’s Community Option. This has been my dream for over 10 years and with a lot of thinking, consideration, and processing I know that the time has come to start my midwifery journey in August. Midwifery is my calling, it’s in my lineage; on both sides of my family I come from healers. My Great Great Aunt Alice caught babies in rural Western Kentucky from the early 1900’s on until she retired on the homestead farm my parents now own. We still have her log of the babies she caught in those years.
I am grateful for the support I’ve had from my community so far: from fellow birth workers who have doula-ed me through the application process and cheered me on to my loved ones who’ve encouraged me to the incredible two midwives I am working with as my preceptors in Cincinnati. Now more than ever I truly believe that folks from marginalized communities deserve and need midwifery care from a decolonized, intersectional lens and my goal once I graduate is to serve my community in that way. It’s important to me that folks have the access to care they want, need, and desire and I want to be able to provide this care to people in my community.
Because of this I am asking for community support and mutual aid for my path to midwifery school. With the state of the world we are in we desperately need Black midwives because of the racial inequalities in the medical system and world. Black birthworkers give greater access to education, advocacy, and support for Black families—things they need and deserve. They provide higher positive perinatal outcomes for Black folks.
Midwifery is a practice of Black women and carers. The field of obstetrics and gynecology was built on the lives and bodies of Black humans, as Black granny midwives were pushed out of this work and robbed of their careers. It’s important to me to do this work, as a Black person, and I need the aid and support of my community to do so. Your financial support is not only an investment in me and my passion and thriving, but is a contribution, a reparation to invest in Black birthing people, Black babies, and Black families for years to come.
My school tuition is $7,000/semester or $14,000/year for 3 years. I need supplies, like a birth kit and books that total $2,365, as well as travel costs (flying and rental car ) to Maine for the in-person portion of my studies, which comes to $470 per trip, and I’ll make two trips this year, in September and November. To fund my first year of school, starting this August, I need $18,000 and any money left over from this school year will be used for following school semesters. You can contribute to that amount via this campaign as well as through PayPal (PayPal.me/chaneybelle) and Venmo (Chaney-Williams-1).
Thank you for your support! I’m so excited for this journey and look forward to sharing it with you.
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