Honoring the Fragility and Resilient Strength of Babies + Their Families
By donating to this fundraiser, you will help me overcome the COVID-related loss of my brick and mortar community perinatal wellness center and help me pivot my work to continue to support expecting and new families. This center was built out of my commitment to new babies and families. It was also the means by which I was able to support my own family while managing my son's rare and my own chronic illnesses.
Funds raised will help me continue my work on behalf of new and expecting families (detailed funds distribution can be found below):
-transitioning in-person courses into an online format
-continuing my studies in infant and human development
-researching and writing a book exploring the fragile and resilient baby and human, and exploring ways as parents and a society that we can meet their needs and our own more fully.
Why a Fundraiser? Why Now?
For almost two decades I have worked in Rhode Island to build a community center that supported families during pregnancy, birth and the first years of their babies’ lives. I designed Open Circle with a focus on creating a community that any interested family could access and feel welcomed into. I also strove to be sensitive to and participate in addressing socio-economic and racial injustices in maternity care and family rights.
While I built and taught at the wellness center, my son’s rare autoimmune disease and my own chronic illness have repeatedly washed away any financial stability. Most recently, the impact of the pandemic has meant that my income has been reduced by nearly 80%, severely limiting my ability to adapt the center's offerings to an online format or provide for my own family and health.
Prior to the pandemic, I had begun studies and the plan for a book to address some of the most common challenges I have seen for families and babies in my work, as well as in my own life. The current impact of the pandemic means I am unable to put resources toward this ongoing study and writing, or course development.
I am deeply grateful for any support you are able to offer .
Who am I, and what experiences are this book and my work based on?
My professional and educational bio can be found here . My work, research and writing are all inspired and fueled by my own life story:
As my tiny, soft body unfolded from its womb world, I met the profoundly loving arms and attentive minds of my two parents. I also met the harsh and sometimes cruel reality that those arms and hearts belonged to a father who was 24 years old and dying from cancer, and a mother, 23, who was trying to hold her world and heart together with almost no help from family and community. Diagnosed when I was 3-weeks old, my father died before I took my first steps to walk.
Thirty years later, in the season of my father’s death and my mother’s and my own heartbreak, I held my own toddler son as an autoimmune condition ravaged his precious, spun-silk body. Just before his second birthday, he and I would enter a more than decade long odyssey that relentlessly took me face to face with a kind of fragility and tenderness in his system, and my own, that made me question if he (literally) or I (emotionally) would ever stand again.
In fact, the first thing my baby did when regaining his ability to stand, after months of terror and misery and two weeks of chemo, was to grace the room with a smile of utter delight and pride. And then to dance, on trembling, bobbing legs, like a joyful, drunken cherub.
In the years that followed in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices, I saw this same determination to thrive in the babies, children and parents I met along the way, all suffering through their own medical crises.
In the many years since my son became ill, I have worked with over 3000 babies and their parents, through gestation and into the first years of life. I have had the honor of witnessing them navigate their own innate will to thrive, alongside the hardships and heartbreaks of life.
While I have been deeply nourished and inspired by what I have seen, I have also found myself deeply saddened. I have watched thousands of loving, best intentioned and intelligent parents, as well as countless medical, mental health, and parenting professionals, repeatedly turn away from fully acknowledging and responding to the acute sensitivity and vulnerability of their babies. I have seen adults suppress their own sensitivity and attunement to babies in order to adapt to a cultural myth that pretends the infant is less present and aware than he is and the parent less capable.
As I continue my studies and work to write my book, I hope to reach both parents and professionals and to offer a different paradigm--one that supports them to more fully honor the new life in their hands, and their own capacity to care for it. I hope that it may also help lift the heavy weights of guilt, shame and self-blame that I witness regularly washing over parents and professionals and replace those weights with a sense of their own skill and human rights. In a world where these internal weights are accompanied by concrete messaging and social policies that undermine family health, it is also my wish that my writing will support an exploration of how we can organize community to impact policy and create more just systems of social and communal support.
Once again, I am deeply grateful for any support you are able to offer, and for your help in sharing this fundraiser with friends and family who may be inspired to participate.
Information about how I will use the funds raised can be found below. More info about my training and background can be found here .
Infant and Family Development Training Programs:
Infant Movement Development and Somatic Movement Educator Training
with master teacher Amy Matthews of The Babies Project - $14,000
Infant Mental Health Fellowship
with JF&CS, an organization committed to supporting families for over 150 years - $8,100
Development of Online Self-Paced Birth Education Series
(modeled off of Open Circle's unique curriculum )
• Video / Audio Production $7000
• Material Adaptation $8000
• Platform IT Adaptation | Design $5000
Research + Writing Grant
Total Goal: $67,100
- Julia Lazarus
- Lauren Fisher
- Katherine Firestone
- Meghan Schaffer
- Candor Bourne
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