Archives for posts with tag: Midwifery

50 Friends x $20 = $1000 in 5 days!

Thank you for watching and sharing the

50 Friends, 5 day Campaign.

You can donate through Paypal at 50friends5days@gmail.com.

All donate funds will go towards completing my prerequisites this fall and will take me one step closer to materializing my goal of becoming a nurse midwife.

You can read my personal statement below. Thank you!

Jeanine @greendivasuper

Personal Statement:

It is my intention to complete the Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice Program at DePaul University. With a strong background in public health I want to advance my knowledge and commitment to public health by gaining a MS in Nursing.

For the past five years I have been a birth worker and a reproductive health/birth justice activist. As a doula and lactation education specialist, my passion for women and their families has encouraged me to pursue a career in midwifery.  Once matriculating from DePaul, I plan to continue my evolution in becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife and eventually attaining my Doctorate in Nursing focusing on Community Health and Disparities.

There are many paths to achieving my professional goal of becoming a midwife but my desire to embark on this ambitious journey by attending DePaul is extremely intentional. My attraction to birth has been ever evolving and for as long as I can remember. It has been a dream that I was sure without a bachelor’s degree in nursing would probably never materialize. After I gained my Master of Public Health, I began my career as a professional reproductive health worker and activist. Initially working with international collectives and organizations to prevent maternal to child transmission of HIV, I moved into developing curriculum focusing reproductive health for young women and girls. It was during this time that I was working with a lot of young women and girls during their childbearing years. To become a valuable resource and support to these youth I began volunteering with a birthing center in Washington, DC’s South-East community. With it being the only birthing center in the city and located within community, many of the women being served there were young, Black and uninsured. I witnessed midwives working from a model of care that I was unused to witnessing. It rocked my soul.

I assisted women and girls in childbirth and was amazed at their willingness and commitment to breastfeeding. This place (the birthing center) and these women (the nurse-midwives) contradicted everything that I had heard in graduate school simultaneously confirming everything I had felt in my heart. It was at this birth center that I began to research the various options for fulfilling my dream of becoming a nurse midwife. Since then, I have self-studied, attended an non-traditional midwifery school, attended conferences, organized workshops, and I have come full circle to actualizing my commitment to this work by applying to the Master’s Entry to Nursing Program at DePaul.

Completing this program will change my life.

I have many peers and colleagues that are becoming informal midwives and enjoy being birth workers out of hobby. I am not so privileged. In light of the struggle for legalization for professional midwives in Chicago, becoming a nurse will provide me the opportunity to have visibility within my community. Completing this program will privilege me with the autonomy and accessibility needed to address the devastating birth outcomes, excess deaths, and health inequities that women of color are facing in these same communities.

Completing the Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice Program at DePaul will grant me the opportunity and access to learn and collaborate with aspiring nurses within the program as well as seasoned nurse professionals that I will learn from. It is my responsibility and dedication to obtain the highest knowledge and professional development to serve and contribute to the momentum being made by other nurses committed to addressing these disparities.

Lastly, upon completing this program I look forward to providing service internationally as a nurse for peace and humanity. I feel I have a lot of knowledge to gain from nurses globally both technically and spiritually. I want to be amongst powerful and fearless nurses who are working for social justice, to change their communities; one woman, one family, one life at a time.

Professional activities:

I am a current active member of the Chicago Members Group of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC). ICTC is a national membership organization of birth workers and healers of color. The Chicago-area group was re-launched in 2010. I am also an organizer of the Chicago Black Birth Workers Conference tentatively set for late September 2012. I am the co-founder of the online companion to Free to Breastfeed: Voices from Black Mothers, an anthology I co-edited. I have been a member of DONA International since 2008 as well as a former student member of the Midwives Alliance of North America (2010-2011) and the Illinois Coalition for Certified Professional Midwives (2009-2011). I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Community Service Activities:

I organize community events with the Chicago Members Group of ICTC. Some of the events I have assisted in organizing include film festivals, Love Your Pregnancy Days, and an upcoming Chicago Black Birth Workers conference. I am a tutor at the Saturday School for Positive Education. Saturday School is an African-centered education supplement for 4th through 8th graders in North Lawndale, Chicago. I volunteer often with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). I also regularly provide free labor support and/or lactation support services for low-income women. Lastly, as a local organizer and speaker for birth justice I often support events (i.e. the Annual Walk for Midwives, fundraisers) and have been invited to numerous speaking engagements to speak about health inequities, race, social justice, and birth justice.

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Future Midwife :: Vintage Scrubs (circa 1988)

Going through boxes of old fabric (I used to make clothes once upon a time), I found some green scrubs of my mother’s.  They are from 1988; from when she working at a clinic in Evanston. They screamed from the box “Wear me, future midwife!”

And so I obliged.

I rocked them for her on this past Mama’s Day.

I miss you, Mama…but look at me, all’ed grown up.

Jeanine @greendivasuper

Tomorrow don’t miss the Celebrate Midwives! Film Festival.

This fundraiser, hosted by the Illinois Coalition of Certified Professional Midwives, is just in time for the International Day of the Midwife! Three films will be shown; all about midwifery and midwives.

Following the films there will be a panel discussion in which I will be a part of. Yay! Ain’t nothing better than talking about birth (well maybe for me, breastfeeding;)).

Check out the trailers for the films below and hope to see you there!!

Bringin’ in da Spirit is a historic look at the Grand midwives of the south and addresses midwifery in the Black community.

Narrated by Phylicia Rashad, this evocative and passionate film celebrates women who have committed themselves to holistic answers amidst powerful misconceptions about the practice of midwifery and virulent opposition from practitioners of Western medicine.

At Home in Maine

Guerilla Midwife

Jeanine @greendivasuper

On, Saturday, October 10th (which happens to be International Human Rights Day), the Illinois Single Payer Coalition along with the IL Chapter of a Physicians for a National Health Program and the Chicago Single Payer Action Network, sponsored a Teach-in at Occupy Chicago. The teach-in not only focused on the overall heath disparities within Chicago, but more specifically on how a single-payer health care system will (or will not) address health disparities in Chicago and throughout the nation.

Community groups and organizers were solicited to join the discussion and were encouraged to provide action steps to move the movement of a national health program forward. I was excited to attend the event as I am familiar with single-payer health care program as a whole but never really sat down to think of specific concerns and or questions as to how this type of system will affect the maternal health & medical industrial complex.

The event began with a brief but truly thorough overview by Steve Whitman, PhD, Director of the Sinai Urban Health Institute, about the history of racial segregation and access in Chicago, health disparities amongst whites and blacks, and his research over the last 28 years. As highlighted in the event announcement on the Illinois Single Payer Coalition website:

Chicago is one of the most racially segregated cities in the country, with one of the worst records on health disparities by ethnicity and economic class. Responses by major public and private institutions have been ineffective at best, and at worst actively sacrifice public health to the interests of big corporations. Wall Street’s demand for ever higher profits for health insurance and pharmaceutical companies exacerbates disparities instead of addressing them.

Chicago has some of the worst health disparities in regards to maternal and child health. With the countless advances in medicine and improvements in technology, the medical industrial complex has continued to fall short in its ability to adequately provide evidence-based, scientifically proven care to lower income and racially oppressed people. According to the research Steve presented, in 1995 many of the 15 health outcomes his work focuses on were equal when comparing blacks and whites. 15 years later, in 2005 when they re-investigated the current data, 11 of these 15 measures were worst amongst Black people; including ones specific to maternal and child health.

Three of the 15 measures used in his research, Low birth weight, infant mortality, and no-prenatal care, were specific to maternal and child health. His research concluded that after the 15 year difference, Blacks ranked highest for all three measures. The most shocking and most well articulated realization that I have ever heard about the criminality of this segregation is, when you look at all of these measures and look at the “excess death” (meaning those preventable deaths due to lack of access) he says about 3200 Black people died 2005. These excess deaths are due to no other reason than racism. If you do the math, that’s about 9 folks a day. Breaking it down even more, 3 Black babies die each week due to this racism.

According to the 2005 publication of The Birth Outcomes and Infant Mortality in Chicago report compiled by the Chicago Department of Public Health Office of Epidemiology, the following data shows how desperate Chicago (and nationally) is for attention to these disparities in birth outcomes.

  • Out the highest amounts of births in Chicago, Blacks rank #2 after Hispanics*
  • % of births with no prenatal care; Blacks rank highest at 3.3%
  • % of births that were premature; Blacks rank highest at 16.1%
  • % of singleton babies born with low birth weight; Blacks rank highest at 13.2%
  • % of infant mortality; Blacks rank highest at 14.7%
  • % of neonatal mortality; Blacks rank highest at 9%
  • Lastly, there were 4 maternal deaths in the year 2004 and all 4 were Black

Knowing this information and overstanding the need for immediate action to reverse 15 years (really more) of the harm imposed by the medical industrial complex, what is in store for us within a single payer health care system?

In thinking about access, race, and the current state of affairs for maternal and child health care (i.e. birth justice) I can’t help but have a few questions about how this system will support low income, mothers of color.

One of my greatest concerns about a single-payer health care system is how will this program increase mothers of color’s access to those “evidence-based” practices that I mentioned earlier?

How will this system make maternal and child health more accessible to our communities (i.e. low income, POC, limited-no access to services, birth workers, and/or midwives)?

How will it provide options to poor and marginalized women to make decisions about their pregnancy, birth and parenting without the policing of their bodies and/or reproduction?

How will policies change to support birth justice within the medical industrial complex as well be provided to our sisters in the prison industrial complex?

How will a single-payer system allow greater opportunities (including financial) for birth workers (midwives, doulas, lactation specialists, childbirth educators), healers, and practitioners of color to achieve education and/or certification (if they choose) and practice?

How will this kind of health care reform close these gaps in disparities and improve outcomes for Black women thus improving community health?

Will holistic and modestly cost public health interventions and preventative care (i.e. massage, acupuncture, yoga, etc) be accessible and covered under a single-payer system?

To add, will the midwifery model of care and out-of-hospital midwifery practices be seen as an adequate and viable option for consumers or will the “standard of care” continue to be based on profit-driven, insurance company rules and regulations and not based on evidence and research?

Will a single-payer health care system hold space for increased accurate, client-centered, public health promotion and communication around most importantly, breastfeeding, SIDS, nutrition, fathering, postpartum depression, pre-conception health, and accessing prenatal/postpartum services?

Lastly, in contrast, will Obama’s Health Reform fill in any of these gaps and concerns I have mentioned in discussing a single-payer system?

Well, I am waiting… (crickets).

The International Center for Traditional Childbearing, the Midwives Alliance of North America, and Citizens for Midwifery all have statements that include recommendations** for some kind of health reform (mostly recommendations for Obama-Biden’s Health Reform); many of which can be applied to the single-payer system as well.

I challenge the administration to really step up and address the social and economic barriers that directly affect the overall health of Black and Brown people and in addition make the birth outcomes of those disproportionally affected a continued priority.

It’s clear that what we have now is not only broken but absolutely criminal and barbaric.

*Language provided by the researchers

**Resources for your enjoyment:

International Center for Traditional Childbearing President’s “Healthy Babies are Everyone’s Business”

http://www.ictcmidwives.org/newhealthcarereform.pdf

Midwives Alliance of North America’s “Reforming Maternity Care in America: Recommendations to the Obama-Biden Transition Team on Maternity Health Care”

http://mana.org/pdfs/MANARecsToObamaHealthTeamJan09.pdf

Midwives Alliance of North America’s Working Group Recommendations

http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/chc/recommendations/orgs/midwivesalliance.pdf

Citizens for Midwifery’s “Maternity Care: A Priority for Health Care Reform.”

http://cfmidwifery.org/pdf/CfMStatementObamaTeamFINAL200901_doc.pdf

National Association of Certified Professional Midwives’ “Maternity Care and Health Care Reform: Opportunities to improve quality and access, reduce costs, and increase evidence-based practice”

http://www.nacpm.org/documents/NACPM-recommendations.pdf

Physicians for a National Health Program’s “International Health Systems.” Check out the Cuba and South Africa profile, written by me back in 2004.

http://www.pnhp.org/facts/international_health_systems.php?page=all

one year ago i joined the ranks of mamas around the world. i reflect on this past year and am filled with gratitude and awe. one year ago exactly, i was in the bowels of labor. exactly as it was written one year ago…this is my story.

september 18, 2010 was a day that has truly changed my life.  that was the day that my beautiful baby girl was born. not only was she born, she was born in peace, with mountainous amounts of love bestowed.  She was born at home after two days of labor.

the labor started in the bowels of night.  i had already been home for a month and Ahimsa was nearly one week later.  it was tuesday (14th) going into wednesday (15th) when i began to felt the tightened and expanding of my uterus much stronger than they had been.  i had been having braxton hicks contractions for about 6 weeks.  the last couple of weeks while I was till working i was having them tough and having them often. they weren’t supposed to be uncomfortable or even noticeable but sho nuff they were.  looking back on it now i think that had a lot to do with the stresses of doing direct service with youth and adolescents.  this night though i prayed that she would soon come. and although i slept the rushes were still uncomfortable and would wake me to let me know she was imminent.

thursday (16th) we hung around the house-walter and i.  i didn’t feel like going too far but for my daily evening walk.  we’d walk around the park or on the street every evening just to make sure we’d get out of the house.  both of us anxiously anticipating ahimsa’s arrival began to grow crazy with cabin fever and boredom.  we decided to walk and get some food.  We went to yes-a thai restaurant in our neighborhood.  i was still having contractions but they weren’t regular; no more than 20 minutes apart but they were so much stronger.  I was having more and more mucus and bloody show.  i actually thought that my water had broken.  after eating we came home and even more.  i knew this was getting real and closer to actual labor.

i tried to continue to relax and chill out as much as possible but my anxiousness  took over.  all night i tossed and turned with contractions moving from 5 to 8 minutes apart.  they felt real.  it was so amazing to be feeling.  i know i have increasingly and with more ease allowed myself to “numb out.”  being so busy with work and life i had come a couch potatoe trying to numb myself from thinking about the next day.  i had never felt anything like this but was so amazed at the intensity of feeling that i was having.  it was so amazing and very spiritual.  i would lay there in half slumber and feel my baby moving in my body, my body moving against my better mind to try to stop the “uncomfortableness.”  i couldn’t believe my strength, my patience, my will.  i also could not articulate the closeness i felt to walter and the time.  throughout the night he would hold my and caress me through my rushes -holding me close in between as i drifted back to sleep.  i remember how happy he would be when i would have a contraction that made me pause  and reach for him.  he would smile he said do his excitement for the baby’s arrival and pride of our growing family.  i like to think he was proud of me as well (lol).

Friday (17th) we got up and got to cleaning.  i should say walter did most of the cleaning.  i walked around the house directing and laid on the couch as my contractions began to intensify even further.   i called my fateful friend Nancy and midwife sarah around 1 pm.  this was only after hours of protesting by me and a finally demand by walter.  i didn’t want to call folks too early in the game.  Nancy came over right away and sarah soon arrived after.  This is where things begin to get blurry.  This is where i began to lose track of time.  Sarah checks me and i am 3 centimeters and totally effaced.  i was a bit disappointed and felt like crying.  we hung out for a while and labor progressed.

birth tub and birth altar

sometime that evening/night i got into the birth tub.  it was a nice relief but i felt like i was floating.  i didn’t feel grounded but it did help my contractions making them less uncomfortable.  we had the pool setup in our sunroom.  our sunroom is painted a beautiful green.  the room felt so sensual and warm with candles burning.  we didn’t have any lights on (i believe) in the house.  walter and nancy took turns pouring water over my belly and rubbing my back during the rushes.

hydrotherapy to cope with the intensity

walter even got in the pool with me.  it was nice to be so close to him and hold on to him as my body expanded.  i began to get so hot in the pool we had to have a fan plugged up and more cool water added to the pool.  the pool had really relaxed me and eventually my contractions petered out.  i was back at having one every 20 or 30 minutes.  this not being productive my midwife had me get out. needless to say, i didn’t get back in.

i believe it was a round this time (or right before) that i began having contractions every time i urinated. they were really beginning to get intense.  i failed to mention that in my initial stages of prelabor and labor sometimes my contractions were coupled with aftershocks as I would call them.  I’d have one strong long rush (about 1.5 minutes or so) and then have a shorter as intense one just as the initial one ended. well this began to increase.  i would use the bathroom and as soon as i began to urinate i’d have a contraction and as i ended and stood up here comes another one trying to knock me down.  i could get on top of them.  still irregular i tried to get some rest as we were moving into my third night of restlessness and sleep preventing contractions.  i was having a hard time and felt like i couldn’t rest in between the rushes.  my midwife and her assistant were so loving and supportive.  they were constantly feeding me and hydrating me especially since i had some decels initially in the labor.  they were amazing at keeping me (and walter’s) energy up especially since we were moving into day two of this woman’s work.

i believe it was 2 or 3 am saturday (18th) morning .  and things had really slowed down.  my midwife and assistant decide it would be best to leave and let us get some rest. we agreed.  we did in fact rest until about 6 in the morning when my rushes return full force.  we called everyone to return around 8 o’clock.  again we collectively called on ahimsa to come.  my rushes were deeper and longer.  i hoped she would come soon.  i kept thinking how amazing my body was although i was kind of lucid. i felt strong yet weak with exhaustion.  i didn’t know how i would find the strength to push her out.  my thinking mind was cautious and anxious about the pain but my body keep saying bring it on.

around 11 am sarah sent walter and i out for a walk.  we walked up oakley and back to bomanville and back to foster.  it was nice to be outside and alone with him.  he was so tender and supportive as i would fold into a deep squat with every contraction.  passerbys would stop and stare or try to act like they didn’t see us.  only one person stopped to see if we were okay.  i loved to hear my grunts and groans in the morning light hanging low with walter’s hands confidently supporting me. everything looked so different even though it was indeed the same.  i had my labor eyes on. i was focused and ready more than i ever was.  we walked the curb as i dropped my hips with each step.  we lunged on the stoop.  i needed her to come.  i wanted her in my arms now more than ever.  it had seemed like forever.

back in the house i moved into different positions.  my stomach was hoisted up with each contraction.  my leg was lifted to my shoulder.  i hollered with all my emotion.  i wanted the progress.  i wanted her home.

moving into the afternoon sarah checked me again.  i just knew i was close. sike.  i was only 7 centimeters.  it had been 12 hours since my last vaginal exam when i was at 3.  i felt defeated.  lying in my bed crying i didn’t know how much more i could take.  i was exhausted.  sarah suggested walter and i have some alone time.  i popped a benadryl to try to get a nap.  this didn’t last long.  my rushes returned stronger than ever.  i called out in enough time to get a bucket by my bedside as i began to vomit my eyeballs out.  i was ecstatic.  i knew this was progress.

sarah decided to leave for a while as there was still time.  nancy stayed and i laid in the bed listening to one exhausted walter sleeping.  nancy called me into the living room.  she wanted me to go sit by my ancestral altar and talk to my mother and the Orishas.  she told me  to just sit and try to ask them for their help and any strength i needed.  she told me to talk to them about whatever it was that may be keeping ahimsa inside.  i swore nothing was bothering me.  that is until i sat in front of my alter.  the tears began to flow as i admitted that i was having a hard time going through this process without my mother around.  I lost my mother 12 years ago when she died of breast cancer.  i never truly imagined having a child without that lineage present to validate my experiences in motherhood. my angel, nancy and i talked about our lives and shared stories .  We looked at pictures and cried. i really feel like this was the turning point that i needed.  i released that fear that all pregnant women faced and  realized that i had been doing some amazing body work.  that is was laboring with strength and confidence that i due to my own issues hadn’t been able to identify.  nancy is a God sent and i didn’t believe that this woman (who had known my mother in high school) was introduced into my life.

after what seemed like a few hours of soul-searching the labor really got good.  my contractions were like nonstop. one right after another. i was so out of it. my body rocked and moved with every expansion. no more rushed lying or sitting down. i was totally focused and in a zone. i didn’t even notice when sarah returned. nancy had me up and moving. walter had to get up and i grabbed at him at every contraction-especially the ones on the toilet.

ahhh this feels good!

sarah suggested we get in the shower together and do some nipple stimulation. as some as we got in the bathroom i had a few back to back.  we got in the shower and they kept coming.  i didn’t have anything not wet and slippery to hold on to. i leaped out the shower like a frog and squatted on the floor. i knew this was it.

i ran out leaving walter in the shower.  i was screaming that i could do the shower anymore and that my contractions were coming nonstop. all of this said as i leap onto the floor in a half lunge squat holding on the birthing stool sarah had brought over.  sarah looked at nancy as said let’s try a few contractions int he bed.  they began to set things up in our bedroom like the baby was really coming.  i had no idea.

on my hands and knees and had a few contractions that we out of this world.  a new sensation is what i was feeling.  i could feel ahimsa moving through my pelvis. oh shit i thought.  this was really it.  sarah and nancy had me turn over to repeat the position they had me in earlier where they hoist up in stomach and leg to make room for baby to get through (this was so helpful as we found out later that she was a bit asynclitic).  it was at this moment where i felt and pop and gushing from my vagina.  i screamed i think my water broke.  i asked if i was supposed to be pushing because at this time i couldn’t stop myself. the sensation felt so good. i felt so strong and energized.  they told me to do whatever my body felt it needed to go.  with that i was on my hands and knees riding some long and intense expansions. i was grunting and pushing like a mad woman.

third stage...yes!

after a couple of contractions i asked nancy what time it was.  at the same time i looked at the digital clock under our tv.  it said 6:18 or something like that.  being on births previously, i knew that some women push for hours.  i  said forget that i needed to get her out fast.  i couldn’t wait to see her.  we had been doing this for days and was ready for it to be complete.  i am thankful now for those irregular contractions because they kept coming and i kept pushing. what seems like two contractions later nancy and sarah told me that they could see ahimsa’s head stay out even when i was not pushing.  i was grunting nonstop at this time and knew she’d be here soon. a few more pushes and i could feel the ring of fire which to me felt less like fire and more like a stretching that i instinctively wanted to ease through.  this is when i began blowing out of my mouth and trying contain my adrenaline.

with that ahimsa’s head was out and i could hear everyone’s excitement from behind.  especially walter’s. he had been giving me a play by play of everything that was going on (especially since in between my grunting i kept asking what was happening back there (lol)).  i could hear in his voice that he was crying and i could see the big smile he had on his face.  all my worries diminished and i was elated that i would be seeing ahimsa soon.  what seemed like one more strong and long push ahimsa body slide effortlessly out of my pelvis and into walter’s, sarah’s and nancy’s hands.  my baby had a 6 handed catch (lol)-she is so loved.  i didn’t know she was born until i heard her scream and everyone’s celebratory cries. i looked back because I couldn’t believe i was hearing my child’s first cries.  i thought it was my neighbor’s kid crying.  it was 6:43 pm and our baby had been born. it had happened so fast.  i flipped over and held my daughter for the first time. tight to my chest. speechless and amazed. she was absolutely amazing.  i couldn’t believe that i had done that. the first thing i said after i said oh my god about a hundred times was that was fun.  everyone laughed and said i was crazy.  but i was fun.  it was challenging and called on me to be brave and strong.  it made me think and understand the brilliance that is my body.  i felt truly amazing.  these words don’t give the experience justice. i was holding my daughter in my arms with the love of my life holding us both. as she suckled my breast, i just stared in disbelief. this is my definition of complete and utter happiness.

our first moments skin-to-skin

Sarah put on a cd and the party began.  with the normal post birth stuff going on walter ahimsa and i got acquainted more and shared endless kisses between us all.  walter cut the cord and i stood up to birth the placenta. ahimsa and the house was cleaned up and sarah and nancy prepared us a delicious after birth meal.  this sole moment in my life will be my most proudest moment.  i am so thankful of my commitment to birth ahimsa naturally, in my home, with love and support of my partner.

with papa skin-to-skin

i have never truly excelled in sports or have done anything to test my body’s limits before.  i am so proud that i did this and although i was uncomfortable and in some instances terrified i knew i could do it. i know i can do anything.  when i love at ahimsa i know i can be the model of womaness that my mother was for me.  i will share with her this story in hopes that she will be able to take this with her through her most challenging times.  i hope she will love back on her birth through our words, our pictures, or her subconscious memories and know she was birthed in love and peace and know that she can do anything. this is what i will carry with me forever.

Ahimsa Zipporah Logan born at home September 18, 2010 at 6:43 pm.

welcome Ahimsa!

happy birthday my little one!

love, mama

March 8th is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood is raising awareness and advocating for the need for women and their families globally to have access to health care. Their campaign, Dreams for My Daughter, is advocating and honoring our dreams for the women of tomorrow.

March 8th, 2011 is the official 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. Let’s celebrate the social, political, and economic achievements made by and for women around the world – but also speak out against the injustices and inequalities that many women still face. One of the greatest of these inequalities remains access to health resources. A thousand women a day are still dying needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth due to the lack of skilled care – we want to change this.

To mark International Women’s Day, the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) is uniting women and men in solidarity to raise awareness and funds for this important cause. Please help us commemorate IWD 2011 by taking part in ‘Dreams for My Daughter’ and the WRA Global Dinner Party initiatives. Join the global chorus pressing governments to do more to save the lives of mothers and newborns.

I decided to participate and submit something. I had the ambitious idea to create a short video for the campaign. I had all these images and ideas in my head about how the video would play out. Needless to say, that never happened.

It wasn’t until I was quiet and my brain held still at a birth in the early hours of the morning that I came up with something. The following words rushed out of me and into my notepad. I haven’t written in so long and I immediately thought of something Gloria Lemay said in Outlaw Midwives’ Zine (vol 2).

The way that midwives have those “ah ha” moments of discovery is by being bored out of our wits at long births, with no distractions, staying quiet as a mouse trying to refrain the wild animal within our heads that says “You need some chocolate.”

I was at this longer than long birth and needed some food, some rest, and loving from my family. In the dark, listening to this mama moan, I was thinking about Ahimsa and what dreams I had for her. In my thinking, after a long pause, I felt inspired.

This is what I submitted.

dreams for my daughter (for my love, ahimsa)

in the sleep of midnights
babies flex extend rotate descend
into the new world
this world
wombs of sweetness
mothers snore as they transition
dreaming magically while sitting
at the feet of ancestors
welcome home…
happy birthday
crowned as you enter this earth
with wombs low to the ground
seated close to our first mother
her vibrations tickle babies’ skulls
whispers in the ears of midwives
kept in the sights of gods
calling forth to wrap her arms around
buoyed in water
or feet planted firmly on the ground
on our hands through our knees
we pull life to our hearts
as love fills our breasts
i dream for my daughter
a birthing in peace that will
give her and her peers
access to trained birth attendants
so that none of them
dance with death
while trying to become mamas
themselves
i dream for my daughter
a birthing in peace that will
heal wombs earth and nations
that her choices in birth not be
determined by representatives
legislatures medical societies
celebrities or cable television
i dream for my daughter
an education and freedom
from violence
a sort of self-sufficiency
greater than my own
a chance at love and freedom

a dream where daughters can fly

it’s another wonderful friday.

it’s exceptionally beautiful weather here in chicago today. i have been driving around the south side all day visiting house representatives, letting them know about the Home Birth Safety Act–SB3712. i am so high right now thinking about the beautiful sister birth workers that have come before me. i was honored and privileged to meet an elder birth worker in spite of all the running around. i ended up sitting a speaking with her for about an hour. she made me remember why i’m on this path to midwifery. we so need it in our community. i can’t wait to build with her again.

i wanted to share another powerful image of goddesses at work. this photo is from a old issue of Life Magazine of two breastfeeding mamas and their other children on the front of a rural hospital.  this is for all the granny and traditional midwives. thanks for your life work, wisdom, and inspiration.

RBGs stand up!!!!

feed your babies right!

September 18, 2010 is a day I will never forget.  It is the day that I realized I had made the most important decision in my child’s life—to have her at home.  My daughter was born peacefully at home with an Illinois midwife.

I stand by this decision and know that it is better for me and the women in my community.  I know allowing for culturally competent, licensed professionals to attend women during pregnancy, birth and postpartum will stop the disproportional rates of infant and maternal mortality in the Black community. Black babies are 2.4 times more likely to die as infants compared to non-Hispanic white babies.  Also, Black mothers are 4 times more likely to die than non-Hispanic white mothers.  I know wholeheartedly that this must change.

Many of my sister friends know this as well.  That’s why they are choosing  home birth for themselves and their families.  Many of them are working with unlicensed, underground midwives.  Underground midwives cannot legally carry oxygen or anti-hemorrhage drugs; both important for saving lives.  They do not have privileges to perform certain newborn screenings nor can they file birth certificates.   If a mama in their care needs an emergency cesarean section, an underground midwife cannot call ahead to a hospital and ask to have an operating room ready.  She will not be taken seriously because she is not part of this defunct healthcare system–neither are many Black women.

Many of my sister friends are also choosing to do it themselves—having “unassisted” home births (which has increased in Illinois by 10% last year). Should they have to go to the hospital with an emergency, these same women are also challenged by hospital staff, policed, and threatened with  DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) intervention.  Black women and their parenting will continue to be scrutinized if we do not change the system.

This is why I am sincerely requesting that the Illinois Black Caucus vote YES to the Home Birth Safety Act, currently amended to SB3712, when they see it next week in Springfield.

We need licensed, Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) to work in our communities to make sure we are getting the appropriate care we need to keep Black mothers and babies healthy and alive—to improve our increasingly devastating outcomes.

This is birth justice…

Jeanine Valrie, mama of Ahimsa Logan

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