My Brave JourneyMay 01, 2021
I spent the first decade of my career helping traumatized people navigate tremendously complex and impersonal systems, working with survivors of sexual violence in the US criminal justice system, refugees in the international asylum system, and newly resettled refugees navigating their new life in the US.
As I prepared to birth my first baby in the context of a decade of this advocacy work, I was fiercely committed to my own body autonomy, being an active participant in the system I was birthing my baby in, and feeling supported & cared for with individualized attention to my and my baby’s and my partner’s specific needs. This empowering context of birth is common in the midwifery model of care, but very rare in the modern hospital system... but as a neuroscience PhD student (my spouse) and an underpaid nonprofit executive (myself) our funds were limited and my insurance only covered hospital births so a hospital birth, it was.
Thankfully, between scraping our pennies for a Doula (seriously, at our baby shower we requested contributions to our Doula-fund rather than baby clothes), educating ourselves (I read ALL the books) and being privileged with having lots of practice fiercely advocating for personalized care against people holding power in big systems, we felt empowered and respected as active participants and leaders in the birth room. (As a note, transformationally & spiritually, my first birth utterly beautifully destroyed everything I thought I knew about birth, in the most tender eye-opening way, but that’s another version of this story for another time).
After my first birth, I went back to work, advocating for survivors of sexual violence within the system during the day, nursing all night. To be real, I looked like I was rocking it from the outside, but I was cracking under the strain of it all internally. Also, I just couldn’t leave the transformational effects of birth alone.
Passionate about birth, and drawn to the creativity and independence of entrepreneurship, I trained and certified as a birth doula, then started my own business offering doula, childbirth education, and prenatal yoga services throughout San Diego County.
I learned so much attending births and mentoring expectant families, more than I ever could have in my own birth. I learned time and again the assumptions I didn’t even realize I was making about birth, just because of the way I’d experienced it. Every birth taught me something. And every birth was different, and every birth had some sort of surprise. Some births had very scary moments, and every birth was so so beautiful. My attachments to outcomes (“natural”, “unmedicated” etc.) slowly withered away until my only focus was on staying present, ensuring the birthing person was an active participant in their birth, and offering coping strategies so the birthing person was never overwhelmed (unless it was the transition phase in which case a certain bit of overwhelm is perfectly normal in order to invite surrender and release).
I learned so much mentoring expectant families and attending births and I loved my work and my business grew and grew and the people I got to work with were just utter gifts of human beings...until I got pregnant again and paused for maternity leave, and then when the baby was 9 months old my spouse finished his graduate program and it was time for us to move.
We moved to Seattle for a position for him, and in Seattle I decided to shelve birth work as I didn’t have the strong on-call childcare community required for birth work (remember, many births start overnight and last around 24 hours!). I started a Masters program in Executive Leadership Public Administration thinking I would go back into nonprofit leadership. Then we moved to San Carlos, CA for another job for my spouse, and a few years passed and I kept working on my Masters, and then the pandemic, and then we finally decided we were done with moving and moved home to Phoenix, AZ (where my spouse and I both grew up) to raise our now 8 and 5 year old.
Having finished my Masters, I started applying for Executive positions at nonprofits and found myself the finalist in a series of interviews for what might have been my dream nonprofit executive job at a local nonprofit.
In the meantime my sister and brother-in-law were expecting their first child and asked me to put a private birth prep class together for them. I dug all my birth education materials out of the moving boxes where I had carefully stored them, and CAME ALIVE. I love birth. I love birth education. I love inviting birthing people to self reflect on all their beliefs about birth, pain, asking for help, surrendering to sensation in their bodies. Inviting couples to reflect on their partnership, their sexuality, their dreams / fears of parenthood. I love bluntly preparing people for the beautiful intensity of birth, postpartum... the beautiful intensity of parenting.
In the final stages of the interview process for what I thought was my dream job, I withdrew myself from consideration and returned again to the creativity, independence, and joy of birth work and entrepreneurship and officially relaunched my birth work as Brave Journey. It’s not work for me to continue learning everyday about birth and share it with you. My birth work business, this Brave Journey, is my dream come true.