Categories
interviews

Lucia the Doula (& Future Midwife!)

Lucia the Doula. they/she, @LuciaTheDoula, Not All Pregnant People Are Women.

Katie: Alright, well thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. Just to dive right in, can you tell us a little bit about you and your practice?

Lucia: Yeah, my name is Lucia. My pronouns right now, I just use my name, Lucia and Lucia’s. I am currently in nurse midwifery school but I come to the work through the lens of a doula. So, I’ve been a full-spectrum doula for three years this month, actually. Full-spectrum: I support people through abortion, loss, pregnancy and postpartum. I did a lot of work, mostly in New York and the New York-metro area. Supporting people in their homes, inside the medicalized industrial complex and birthing centers, in Planned Parenthoods, all over the place. I center, in my life, and in my practice, queer people, queer liberation, Black queer folks. I think that we are not an extracurricular, that inclusivity should just be the baseline, that it’s not hard to figure out pronouns. That it’s not weird to be like, “Ugh, I forget, I should just say ‘pregnant people’” – it’s just like no, just say it. So we can just all come to the table and we can all be included and all have resources. And I hope to imbue my future midwifery practices with that as well. My dream is to live in a town where everyone’s like, all the queers go to her. So everyone just comes to my big gay birthing center, and I give help to everyone who has internal genetalia, and that’s my dream. 

Katie: I want your big gay birthing center! 

Lucia: Just flags everywhere. All the flags. Every one of the flags, just waving in the wind (laughs).

Katie: So beautiful. And that might be the answer to this question but maybe you have another answer to: What are you queering right now?

Lucia: Right now, in this moment, it feels like I’m queering a very straight educational experience. I am blowing people’s minds with inclusive language – people are like, “whatttt?? Not everyone’s a woman that gives birth?” It’s not something people can wrap their heads around. So right now, it feels like I’m back to step one of basic queering language in and around reproductive health. I don’t think the major women’s health nurse practitioner should exist. I think it should be called something else, but that’s not my major so that’s someone else’s battle. Especially in nursing and just talking about… there’s a lot of things that we learn that are like, “Oh, well, in men it’s thi number, and in women it’s this number.” and I’m always like, “Srrrrkk. Hi, hello. What does that mean? Are we talking about testosterone or are we talking about body fat percentage to muscle….?” Cause we just can’t say that anymore. We gotta dig deeper, we can’t just be lazy and we have to be expansive. So right now, I feel like I’m queering my school. In the south. 

Katie: Necessary! And really hard work. Your line of “we are not extracurriculars” feels so central and is both about the structure of a curriculum and also the way knowledge is passed down in ways that are both perpetuating these power systems and are just not fully accurate. 

Lucia: Also that! It’s just not correct. I can call five people as, y’know, “people in a study that we could do.” I have examples – it’s not that hard. Y’know? It’s a lot easier than some folks think it is to just be kind and inclusive and expansive than what you were taught. Just this idea that what you learned 20 years ago might have evolved to present day really blows peoples’ minds as well. 

Katie: Yeah. And what inspired you to get into this work?

Lucia: Well birth, I moved to Brooklyn – well, to New York, with a musical theatre degree, with a BFA. So I was doing the grind, I was doing shows all over New York, I moved to Paris and all over the country. So my day job was babysitting, and I started really enjoying doing infants and newborns. I had a part-time job as a babysitter for a 1.5 year old, but his mom was about to have a baby, so she was like, “I just need an extra set of hands in this transition.” We basically had a month, the three of us together – I guess the four of us, cause the little babe was inside. Just getting to know the house, getting to know the flow of things. Then she went to her scheduled cesarean, three days later she came home, I was there, her husband like dropped the bag at the doors and was like, “Alright babe, I’m going back to work” left, and she just sort of just held herself and wobbled back to her bedroom with this baby and just sat there and stared at the wall. Her 2 year old was like, “Mommy, mommy, up up, can you pick me up?” I was like 24 or something, and was just like, “Something’s afoot. Something’s off. Why is she so sad?” We’re told that you have a baby and everything’s great and it’s not that hard and you just breastfeed and chestfeed and it’s easy! And everything happens! I just got a very real look into how unhealthy the lack of support around reproductive health is. That was the first nudge and then I met a doula and the chips sort of stumbled from there. I started to get into the work more full-time and it has taken over my life. 

Katie: What brought you to this shift from doula work to midwifery?

Lucia: I enjoy the time and the emotional connection of doula work. I think.. we’ll get into this later, but I’m a Pisces sun, so it’s very, y’know feelings. Walking into a room and being like, “Oh god, what happened?” before anyone even says anything. That serves me well in the doula space, but I wanted more of a hands-on interaction and also approach to truly having an impact on people’s healthcare. As a doula, there’s only so much I can do, so much I can control, so much I can shield people from – say, the hospital system, if that’s where they choose to give birth. Or if that’s where they choose to miscarry, or to abort. There’s only so much I could do as a doula. So much, legally, I was allowed to do. It just feels like I’ll have more of a positive impact on people’s full health. Not just talking about people getting pregnant and giving birth, but the full health of the whole family – well, not the whole family, some of the people in the family. But really being more of a holistic provider and having that power in the room to change birthing outcomes and health outcomes. 

Katie: Absolutely, and I think that answers a lot of the next question, but just to give you a chance to say it specifically – how do you describe your support philosophy? Your approach to the work that you’re doing in all of these roles?

Lucia: I think, in general, my support philosophy is that if you have to interact with the medical system in any way, you need a doula in the room. I don’t care if that’s for you to have your blood drawn or you’re just going for your routine checkup or if you just need to go get antibiotics for strep throat. You need someone in the room whose job it is to look after your emotional health and to check in with you and to just take a second – and the doula can be like Are you ok? Did you understand everything that was just said?” Because providers are given ten minutes, and that’s because of insurance companies, whoever they work for, blah di blah. My support philosophy is deep, emotionally connected support. Support in many ways – support in whatever people want for their bodies and what they want for their lives. Non-judgmental support is something that is a foundation of doula work or what I think all doula work should be, is some of the stuff that I’m gonna be bringing into my practice. If you choose to do this with your birth – that’s your choice, that has nothing to do with me, I will keep you safe and make sure you know all of the options around that choice and then I’m gonna honor you as you make that choice for your body and your family. I think that’s what comes to mind is deep support, I’m seeing this image of just roots growing. Just bring in the plants! 

Katie: We’re all about bringing the plants!

Lucia: Exactly, it’s just like deep roots that wrap around each other in some ways and just branch off from each other in other ways that like, I know and even just as a doula, I’m a part of many peoples’ lives for like the rest of their life. And then as a midwife, I hope to be the same way, just have some more branches and roots interacting. And feeding off of each other, taking care of each other. 

Katie: Some of those things where, there is the sense that even if …. I think we think of relationships in terms of how long they are, and we put the value of relationships in like, “Oh, you’ve been in a relationship with this person for so many years, and therefore it is a good strong relationship” But I know I’ve had experiences with doula clients for example where like, I support them through a pregnancy, a birth, y’know, maybe a few months postpartum. Maybe we don’t really stay in relationship and yet there is this sense of – I know I carry pieces of that relationship with me. I trust that they do, too – sometimes we run into each other at the farmers market like way down the line and it’s like, “Oh my gosh, hiiii.” There’s a sense, the depth of relationship is so meaningful and I think particularly in some of these heightened moments of a pregnancy or some of these big transitional times, those relationships can grow really deep really quickly. 

Lucia: I still have people that like, I spent 5 minutes inside of an exam room at Planned Parenthood, that I’m like, I don’t want to be creepy, but I’d really love to have their number just to check in on them! Just like, are you okay?

Katie: I think particularly in abortion work that deep immediate relationship building is really such a superpower. I think about in social work school, they gave us all these lectures about “how to build rapport with people” and “how to introduce yourself” and operationalized this way of being. And I’m like, “Oh… I’ve done shifts in abortion clinics…. We don’t need this.”

Lucia: Totally. Especially now, in the time of Covid, how, after meeting someone for a minute, I am like – holding their face, holding their hand, wiping away tears, and then they just get in an uber and I never see them again. But I do that like, ten times in a day. It’s just… that, for me, as a Pisces, that’s really where I thrived. Yeah, I haven’t thought of that in a while, cause they kicked doulas out of the clinics in New York because of Covid. Like, hard, fast, deep connections and support. Truly being like, “Hey, I’ve got your back. If you want me to stop the procedure.” Just really being empowered and “allowed” to just be support. No other tasks. Just make sure they’re okay. Make sure they get home okay. Just so quick, and so tender, necessary. 

Katie: So you previewed it for us a little bit.. I’ve asked you about your natal work, and now I want to know about more of your natal chart? So you’re a Pisces sun, what’s your moon and your rising?

Lucia: So I have a Leo moon, which is like my biggest shame and my rising is Taurus. So, just like, at home – feeling my feelings, but then every now and then I need to be the center of attention and go out, but then I need to come home…. (laughs)

Katie: Go out, do the thing, but like make sure there’s a bubble bath after. 

Lucia: Yeah. Absolutely!! Or like, making food before I go out – that was definitely my vibe back when going out was a thing. 

Katie: And what’s your favorite thing about being a queer person and becoming a queer provider or about working with queer and trans families? 

Lucia: I love being in a room with people, and supporting people where we can both relax. We can just be like, no one’s gonna say anything shady. No one’s gonna trip up. No one’s gonna be muscling their way through being inclusive or being expansive. It’s also, as someone who wants to have children eventually, it’s also like seeing the potential of what community and what having a family can look like. It’s also (and I hate this word) but I do love the resilience of people choosing and fighting for the life that sometimes, people as a child, never dream they could have. I love being able to support that and especially as a doula going to hospitals, being like, “I’m stopping everyone before they come in the door. We are going through pronouns. We are going through expansive language.” I enjoy being the padding around queer families and I am honored to do that. I really look forward to providing care that is welcoming for everyone and at a place where they can just come sit in the waiting room and look up and see pictures of pregnant people that look like them or look like their partner, or look like their sibling. That really excites me, to sort of build the community gathering place for folks who are like us. 

Katie: Ughh, the big gay birth center slash community gathering space!!!

Lucia: (laughs) This keeps getting bigger… Soon there’s gonna be some kind of like, sport gym, maybe some..

Katie: Like a good dance hall slash food bank probably (laughs)

Lucia: Yes, and!!

Katie: All of it. All of it. And if you could improve something about the experience of pregnancy and birth for queer and trans familiies what would it be? Or I guess another way of asking this question is, what is something that’s different in the future for queer and trans folks around pregnancy and birth? Aside from the big gay birth center / community event space / whatever / soccer field. 

Lucia: Yes, someone else will have to take care of the sports – that’s not my industry. What’s gonna be different in the future for queer folks and trans folks is… that care will not be so difficult to get. Good healthcare that isn’t “tolerant” but is deeply invested in who we are. Not in spite of, but celebrating IN. That the textbooks, the resources, the websites aren’t all like, “Momma, women” and like, “yoni” – we can all come to the table, we can all have this bounty and we can all be supported. I mean, that’s the future. It’s like, I want to get tattooed on my forehead, “Not all pregnant people are women” and just hopefully, slowly spread this gay agenda everywhere. I just hope that has more ease for people. Especially with some of the laws that have been passed – we can be refused care, just because of who we are now. In the future, that doesn’t exist. That wouldn’t even be a thought that people have. 

Katie: And what’s a piece of advice that you have for new and aspiring queer and trans birth workers?

Lucia: I would say, to protect the most tender parts of yourself. Not syphon them off, don’t put them behind like a metal door, but maybe… someone told me this at the Decolonizing Birth Conference last year: Put a screen over your heart, so that it can filter the good stuff and then everything else that you don’t need doesn’t come in. Because you’re going to bump into people who think that being inclusive is erasing their womanhood, or erasing this stronghold of “birth is for women and that’s it and that’s all.. This is our ONE thing that we have, please don’t’ take it away from me.” You’re gonna run into that. You’re gonna run into that, and there are gonna be incredible providers that you thought were really cool and then they’ll like, hit you with some sort of really homophobic transphobic jargon and it’ll hit you like a ton of bricks. But I’m hoping if you have this little screen around your tender parts that it won’t devastate you as much. Also, if you want to go into the educational industrialized complex, not everyone is a QTBIPOC person. Barely anyone is. So it’s tough to go to class and to not have your experience reflected back to you, especially because, as queer people, we create our environment so meticulously and with such care and with such intention that to then have to go to a school, like, I went to school when I was 30, so I had spent all these years creating my queer little bubble in Brooklyn and then I went to the South and I went to higher education. So just knowing that your experience won’t be reflected back to you, but you matter, you are valid, and once you get those really expensive pieces of paper that says you can do the thing that you want to do, you can then get back to what we do best, which is creating family and community where we are and finding each other and deeply supporting each other. And then, once you do graduate, that you have to do that for younger people. You have to look back and put your hand out and bring people with you.

Katie: So beautiful! The idea of one of the things that queer folks do best and all the time and have really honed it as a survival strategy is to so meticulously and intentionally create space and community. I just really resonate with the heartbreak of going into systems that don’t give a shit. 

Lucia: Yeah, like all we do is talk about our feelings at bars and then you have to go to this school and no one cares what you’re feeling! It’s hard! (laughs)

Katie: Yeah! And that there are people who have their hands out, waiting to help pull folks along and I think that that’s such a beautiful … what a beautiful gift that queer community has to offer – those holdfasts in the swirl of institutional bullshit. I could listen to you talk about all of your reproductive work all day forever, but what’s something not natal about you and your life that you want to share?

Lucia: This question is hard. There are two things that stand out, I’m gonna embarrass myself. I really love K-pop. Because of the way that gender is verrrry ..non-existent in this weird way. And I also really love graveyards. Greenwood cemetery up in Brooklyn: would highly recommend 10/10. We’ve got some cool decatur cemeteries down here, so I like to spend my time around dead folks.. listening to K-pop. 

Katie: As a fellow cemetery-wanderer, I really support that so hard! And, finally, if people aren’t gonna wander around cemeteries with you, where can they find you on the internet?

Lucia: The Instagram! I am LuciaTheDoula on Instagram. Usually calling out TERFS and SWERFS, y’know, really all about bumping up Black queer folks and yeah, just the usual shenanegans on there. You can connect with me via that, and we can sort of bump over to email or text or something like that. I provide sliding-scale services for queer and Black folks and right now, as a student, I’m really just happy to support people in any way that I can. So, if money’s an issue, shoot me a message. 


Katie: Amazing. Thank you so much, it was such a gift getting to talk with you!

Lucia: Thank you – this is such a lovely way to spend a weekday rather than on a Zoom class about something random (laughs). 

Categories
interviews

Emma O’Brien

Emma O’Brien, she/her, Birthkeeper Herbalism and Lavandoula

Katie: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and a little bit about your practice?

Emma: Sure Katie thanks, my name’s Emma, I use she/her pronouns and I am a professional birth attendant. Snd I do full-spectrum work, so I attend abortions, miscarriage, stillbirth, birth postpartum, lots of stuff. And I’m also a clinical herbalist, so I help people with plants.

Katie: And what are you queering right now?

Emma: Love it. I am queering herbal natal education. So, I have a project right now called Birthkeeper Herbalism that I am putting together sort of class topics on different fertility situations from conceiving to postpartum and doing it in such a way that doesn’t gender plants and people! Which is hard to find in herbal education. There’s a lot of amazing queer herbalists doing work and a lot of amazing queer herbalists doing work, but in our area, there’s not a lot of overlap. Yeah, so, that’s what I’m queering right now.

Katie: Yeah! And what inspired you to do the work that you’re doing right now?

Emma: It’s a good question, I feel like I was always kinda drawn to support work in one way or another. When I was even in high school, I worked at an organization that did domestic violence advocacy and would sometimes do on call hospital advocacy shifts if folks went to the emergency room after an assault, so that is extremely similar to a birth doula role or an abortion support person. You know, you meet someone in this medical setting that can potentially be uncomfortable or traumatic in this very specific day of their life. So, that was sort of the beginning of the path. And when I met someone who worked as a birth doula, I was like, “that makes sense! I’m gonna look into that.”

Katie: Yeah, and what’s your support philosophy?

Emma: Usually I tell people that their philosophy becomes by philosophy. I really like to support people in their decision making processes. I’m a big information sharer. So when, I mean really like the informed part of informed consent. I really like to nonjudgmentally support whatever your decisions are as long as individuals feel like they have what they need to make that decisions. Whether its an emotional decision or a really fact based research decision. I’m there for it all.

Katie: So I’ve asked you about your natal work, but I’m also curious about your natal chart? Whats your sun moon rising?

Emma: I’m a libra, libra sun, October 4, and a saggitarius moon and gemini rising

Katie: Alright alright I’m a libra rising so I feel like that’s why we’re friends. What’s your favorite thing about being a wueer support person or about working with lgbtq+ families?

Emma: Yes. Just the layer of honesty, I feel like, that’s baseline there, y’know, just the comfortability you have talking to other queer people about these things. So you can say something and not be worried that you’re not gonna be received well. And for many folks, at least in our area, there’s not a ton of queer childbirth prep options or parent groups that are specifically queer and all that. So sometimes being that one queer person touchpoint in someone’s fertility, pregnancy and postpartum is yknow, really meaningful! There are a lot of parents desperate for that, so.

Katie: Especially I think going into some of these very medicalized settings where there’s like so much expectation of what your family looks like or how you talk about yourself to have somebody who you at least know is – who you know at least SEES you in that way can be so valuable to families.

Emma: Totally, I love it.

Katie: Yeah. If you could improve one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth for queer and trans families, what would it be?

Emma: Ideally, my dream is to connect more queer families with queer and trans birth workers of all types. So, there’s folks who support people through their fertility process, there’s people who are antenatal birth workers who can help you at home if you’re high risk pregnant, y’know, postpartum support. All of that. I just think there are lots of queer people doing all this work out there and I don’t think parents always know where to find them. So, yeah, that’s it!

Katie: What’s one piece of advice you have for new and aspiring queer and trans birth workers?

Emma: Well, first of all, thank you, you’re amazing, you’re needed, please stick around, and also don’t go it alone. Yknow, when I first trained as a birth doula in 2010 I was definitely the only queer person at that training. And I wasn’t really sure if I could hang with the whole birth scene in general, so having y’know located a couple other queer or “pro choice” birth workers in the early days would have been really amazing. Took a little while to build that community, so yeah, just don’t go it alone.

Katie: I can certainly attest to what It meant for me as an aspiring birth worker to be able to have you in my community and to have somebody I knew who was really willing to share information and support

Emma: Yeah, no gatekeeping!! Birth is for everybody

Katie: Yes, and finally, what’s something that’s not natal or pregnancy/birth related about you and your life that you wanna share with folks?

Emma: I’ve been thinking about this a lot, cause obviously it’s 2020 and we’re home, but my partner and I are pretty big like urban homesteader type people. So, we literally in the quarantine have tanned leather and canned pickles and I make medicine – obviously as an herbalist, getting a lot of plants and mushrooms from the world and making medicines for people. Um, what else – trying to think. It’s so funny, like, “get yourself a lesbian for the quarantine” or whatever – I’m like, yeah, my partner’s sharpening knives on rocks and it’s very practical. So, yeah!

Katie: Awesome, is there anything else about you or your work that you want to share?

Emma: People can find more about us at lgbtqbirth.com, my project with herbalism and natal topics is birthkeeper-herbalism.com and my actual birth support practice website is lavandoula.com 

Katie: Alright, thank you so much!

Katie interviews emma

Katie: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and a little bit about your practice?

Emma: Sure Katie thanks, my name’s Emma, I use she/her pronouns and I am a professional birth attendant. Snd I do full-spectrum work, so I attend abortions, miscarriage, stillbirth, birth postpartum, lots of stuff. And I’m also a clinical herbalist, so I help people with plants.

Katie: And what are you queering right now?

Emma: Love it. I am queering herbal natal education. So, I have a project right now called Birthkeeper Herbalism that I am putting together sort of class topics on different fertility situations from conceiving to postpartum and doing it in such a way that doesn’t gender plants and people! Which is hard to find in herbal education. There’s a lot of amazing queer herbalists doing work and a lot of amazing queer herbalists doing work, but in our area, there’s not a lot of overlap. Yeah, so, that’s what I’m queering right now.

Katie: Yeah! And what inspired you to do the work that you’re doing right now?

Emma: It’s a good question, I feel like I was always kinda drawn to support work in one way or another. When I was even in high school, I worked at an organization that did domestic violence advocacy and would sometimes do on call hospital advocacy shifts if folks went to the emergency room after an assault, so that is extremely similar to a birth doula role or an abortion support person. You know, you meet someone in this medical setting that can potentially be uncomfortable or traumatic in this very specific day of their life. So, that was sort of the beginning of the path. And when I met someone who worked as a birth doula, I was like, “that makes sense! I’m gonna look into that.”

Katie: Yeah, and what’s your support philosophy?

Emma: Usually I tell people that their philosophy becomes by philosophy. I really like to support people in their decision making processes. I’m a big information sharer. So when, I mean really like the informed part of informed consent. I really like to nonjudgmentally support whatever your decisions are as long as individuals feel like they have what they need to make that decisions. Whether its an emotional decision or a really fact based research decision. I’m there for it all.

Katie: So I’ve asked you about your natal work, but I’m also curious about your natal chart? Whats your sun moon rising?

Emma: I’m a libra, libra sun, October 4, and a saggitarius moon and gemini rising

Katie: Alright alright I’m a libra rising so I feel like that’s why we’re friends. What’s your favorite thing about being a wueer support person or about working with lgbtq+ families?

Emma: Yes. Just the layer of honesty, I feel like, that’s baseline there, y’know, just the comfortability you have talking to other queer people about these things. So you can say something and not be worried that you’re not gonna be received well. And for many folks, at least in our area, there’s not a ton of queer childbirth prep options or parent groups that are specifically queer and all that. So sometimes being that one queer person touchpoint in someone’s fertility, pregnancy and postpartum is yknow, really meaningful! There are a lot of parents desperate for that, so.

Katie: Especially I think going into some of these very medicalized settings where there’s like so much expectation of what your family looks like or how you talk about yourself to have somebody who you at least know is – who you know at least SEES you in that way can be so valuable to families.

Emma: Totally, I love it.

Katie: Yeah. If you could improve one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth for queer and trans families, what would it be?

Emma: Ideally, my dream is to connect more queer families with queer and trans birth workers of all types. So, there’s folks who support people through their fertility process, there’s people who are antenatal birth workers who can help you at home if you’re high risk pregnant, y’know, postpartum support. All of that. I just think there are lots of queer people doing all this work out there and I don’t think parents always know where to find them. So, yeah, that’s it!

Katie: What’s one piece of advice you have for new and aspiring queer and trans birth workers?

Emma: Well, first of all, thank you, you’re amazing, you’re needed, please stick around, and also don’t go it alone. Yknow, when I first trained as a birth doula in 2010 I was definitely the only queer person at that training. And I wasn’t really sure if I could hang with the whole birth scene in general, so having y’know located a couple other queer or “pro choice” birth workers in the early days would have been really amazing. Took a little while to build that community, so yeah, just don’t go it alone.

Katie: I can certainly attest to what It meant for me as an aspiring birth worker to be able to have you in my community and to have somebody I knew who was really willing to share information and support

Emma: Yeah, no gatekeeping!! Birth is for everybody

Katie: Yes, and finally, what’s something that’s not natal or pregnancy/birth related about you and your life that you wanna share with folks?

Emma: I’ve been thinking about this a lot, cause obviously it’s 2020 and we’re home, but my partner and I are pretty big like urban homesteader type people. So, we literally in the quarantine have tanned leather and canned pickles and I make medicine – obviously as an herbalist, getting a lot of plants and mushrooms from the world and making medicines for people. Um, what else – trying to think. It’s so funny, like, “get yourself a lesbian for the quarantine” or whatever – I’m like, yeah, my partner’s sharpening knives on rocks and it’s very practical. So, yeah!

Katie: Awesome, is there anything else about you or your work that you want to share?

Emma: People can find more about us at lgbtqbirth.com, my project with herbalism and natal topics is birthkeeper-herbalism.com and my actual birth support practice website is lavandoula.com 

Katie: Alright, thank you so much!

Emma: Thanks Katie!

Categories
interviews

Katie Byron

Katie Byron, they/them, https://www.birthwithkatie.com Katie’s Instagram

Emma: Hey Katie

Katie: Hi

Emma: How are you today? Nice to see you.

Katie: Nice to see you too, doing well!

Emma: Awesome, do you wanna tell us a little about you and your practice?

Absolutely. So my name’s Katie Byron, I use they/them pronouns. I provide full-spectrum reproductive support. So supporting folks through pregnancy, birth, postpartum, also abortion, miscarriage, other pregnancy losses. I am also a childbirth educator and a social worker

Emma: Awesome. That’s a lot, love it. What are you queering right now?

Katie: I am queering … one of the things I’m queering right now is perinatal mental health. It’s certainly a space in which there is certainly a lot of folks who are straight and cis who have a lot of experience working with queer and trans people and famlies. AND there are not as many folks who are queer/trans/nonbinary themselves in this work and it is certainly a place where I think there is deep need both for more education and for folks who are actually from queer and trans communities to be doing the work and to be in positions to be providing support to specifically queer and trans families.

Emma: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for that, that’s awesome. And such a good point, too, y’know, with all perinatal work, there’s plenty of straight and cis people who say they have experience working with queer families, and that’s great if people feel like they’re a good fit. And also, there’s so much more to it than that. So, thanks for bringing that to the table. What inspired you to do the work that you do?

Katie: A couple, a few spaces – the most, well, one of which being my personal experience particularly as a fat femme person and living in a world where a lot of people have a lot of opinions about my body and what my body does in space and the size of my body and the shape of it has me feeling particularly attuned to the way that bodies get the amount… the amount that our society puts on bodies during reproductive changes, and so there’s something that’s both personally very liberating and healing for me in doing this work of helping and accompanying people as they are finding new ways to claim their bodies as their bodies change. On sort of a more practical note – I like got to college as a young white feminist and was like, “Oh yeah! The way to express my politics is to become a clinic escort at Planned Parenthood.” So, that was work that I did for a couple of years in college and was a space where I saw those micro-interactions mattered to people. That having someone who is going to smile as they walk you from your car, or who is going to ask about where you got your shoes to drown out the sounds of protesters meant something. I certainly think that’s work where I built a lot of my skills around establishing rapport with people and shaped how I approach people understanding that I might be approaching people who are about to step into who knows what kind of shaming/judgmental landscape. It was in that work that I started to learn about other forms of abortion support work and actually found out that there were people who did support work around abortion. After I finished college, I moved down to DC, I did a training with the DC Doulas for Choice Collective and started working in clinics providing support to folks around abortion experiences. That for me was really a transformative space of realizing, this is in fact not about my politics. That was a wild presumptive mindset. And that really the thing that was so moving to me about the work was not because it was some expression of my politics in any kind of way, but it was about the experience of being with people and of sitting with just the messiness of what an abortion meant to someone or what any kind of reproductive experience might mean for someone. Whether it’s the thing that means you get to go on your vacation and have margaritas without any sense of guilt or if it’s like a really complicated thing that is tied into feelings about a relationship or whatever else. Often, when I think about what inspired me to get into a lot of the work that I do, I think back to some of those initial clinic experiences and the people who I had the honor of getting to sit with and and be with and got to really fall in love with that way of being with people. 

Emma: Yeah, that’s really awesome. So drawn in via maybe college politics and then stuck around for the actual human element of it. That’s awesome. I think a lot of people are gonna go through that similar transformation, so it’s where a lot of people have their starting point. Thanks for sharing. What’s your support philosophy? 

Katie: Yeah, I fundamentally will tell people that I think… I approach this with an understanding that reproductive support work is fundamentally about justice work. My support philosophy comes from a place of acknowledging that we live in a society that has privatized all kinds of care in ways that are not aligned with how humans have at any point in history done care for each other. My support philosophy is rooted in the fact that I don’t really think that any of the hats I wear “should” exist as professions. And, nonetheless, we live in a society that has told us that your community’s not gonna show up for you in hard times or when you’re going through big life transitions. So the way to get support is to bring in some private individual who has “specialized training.” My support philosophy, acknowledging the fact that, it’s messed up that we have to have this at all, comes from a place of really trying to empower people to make real choices about what they want their experience to be like, what tools they already have to deal with hard or big things, and about what kind of story do you want to be able to tell about this experience? This is not – at times, it might feel like something that is happening TO you, and that’s super real, and what kind of sense can we make out of that? What are the ways that this can be integrated into the story of your life? How do you want to understand this experience? So that’s a lot of how I approach my support work.

Emma: Amazing, I love it. To acknowledge sort of the history of any kind of support work, being not a “professional” role that you do training to do. It’s because of the system that we have these roles, because the system doesn’t have these roles in it. So, uh – amazing! Thank you so much for bringing that up. OK! So we’ve talked about your natal work, what’s in your natal chart! Tell me your sun, moon, rising. 

Katie: I am a Capricorn sun, virgo moon, libra rising. 

Emma: Nice, alright alright. Libras!

Katie: I feel like there’s a lot of libra energy in birth work.

Emma: That’s awesome. I’ve never had anyone say that to me, but I have clients ask me my chart sometimes, and I’m like, “Libras get along with everyone, so it’s cool.”

Katie: I’ve definitely seen threads of birth workers talking about their charts, and I feel like I’ve seen a lot of libra energy.

Emma: Right on, libras, hit us up! Amazing. So what’s your fabroite thing about being a queer support perosn or working with LGBTQ families?

Katie: Yeah, one of my favorite things about queering support work is about the ways that we’re able to acknowledge relationships. I think that particularly in medical systems, and y’know I’ve worked in hospitals as a social worker as part of my social work training, I also wear another hat in a spiritual care realm – I’ve served as a chaplain in hospitals. Something I consistently see is the way that there are real hierarchies of relationships in medical settings. In part, cause there are “next of kin” hierarchies about who gets to make medical decisions for you in an emergency. So, you know, married legal spouses win all the time. I think something that’s really special about queer folks doing support work is that we know that that’s not always and possibly not most of the time true. To be able to acknowledge: who are the most important people in your life around this experience? Maybe the answer is a monogamous partner. Maybe the answer is an aunt who you know had a similar reproductive experience, or a close friend who has been with you for all of the hard times. Or it is a space where actually the person who is best equipped to support you is your metamour who you don’t get along with and actually don’t talk about all that much with… but, this is something that you have a shared experience around and they’re gonna be your… really gonna be your person. Or they’re really organized in a way that’s gonna be helpful. I think that being able to not have… walking in without assumptions about who is going to be most important to you or which relationships are going to be the thing to hold you in this is something that I think is one of my favorite things. To just see all the way that people build community and family. 

Emma: Yeah, that’s awesome. And it really is in these times that those kinds of relationships get tested and called on and it’s like, who’s name do you write on your paperwork and all your medical stuff? That’s a really, really good point! If you could improve one thing about the experience about queer and trans birthing families, what would it be?

Katie: I would do so many things. But if I could change one thing, it would be for providers of all kinds to actually take seriously the words that people use to talk about what’s happening to them and their bodies. Which, I think about both in particular with queer and trans families – the family names that people want used. It’s not…. in every other part of clinical training, people are taught to use the words that your patient or your client uses. And yet, somehow, when it comes to queer and trans families, somehow all of that knowledge just falls out of people’s heads. Or about reproductive experiences in general – I’ve certainly seen, I’ve heard plenty of really horrific stories of medical providers who suddenly don’t have any helpful words to say around abortion, around pregnancy loss. And I think certainly, also, the experiences of all kinds of marginalized people who are telling people about things they’re experienced in their bodies and are being dismissed, or written off, or not taken seriously. I think if I could change one thing, it would be for providers to actually hear the words that people use, take them seriously, and then reflect those words back at people. 

Emma: Amazing. I think that would make lots of subsequent changes! So… good answer, amazing. Do you have any advice for new and aspiring queer and trans birth workers?

Katie: If there’s one piece of advice I would give… you get to, this can be a “choose your own adventure” style path. I think there are a lot of setup in birth world that is like, “You have to do your training, and then you follow the step by step guide to get certified in whatever it is that you trained in, and then you somehow find clients, you probably undersell yourself for the sake of climbing up this… I just think that so many people get stuck and so many people don’t stay in birth work. People who we need in our communities and who the families in our community need as birth workers and as support people because they get lots in the bureaucracy or in the what they think is the step by step thing, and I think the reality is: there are very few rules and if the organization you trained with has a certification process that is trash, you don’t have to do it.

Emma: Yes!


Katie: Right? Like, if the reading list for your training organization is a bunch of heterocis-centered nonsense, like, you don’t have to do it! And if you feel like some step in the process has made it so you’re being asked to do something that’s not aligned with your values, or not how you want to practice, or makes you feel like you need some sort of extra specialized training to know how to do the stuff that you intuitively have been doing your entire life, you don’t have to do it. 

Emma: Amazing, I love it. As someone who, y’know, has been an uncertified birth attendant for ten years – I’m all about it. There’s very little benefit to that depending on the states you live in and the legislation and all that. I like the choose your own adventure advice. That’s good.

Katie: And I think there’s so much that’s like, there are a lot of particularly white cis straight birth workers who have really commodified specific types of training that you dont’ actually have to pay hundreds of dollars to learn how to do that. And I think there’s a lot, I see this a lot in the mental health field. Right? That there are all kinds of very expensive trainings you can do about like, “How to support LGBTQ clients” that are taught by straight people who have all thix “experience “ in part to train queer and trans people who don’t have the “right certifications” to do the thing that they do for their community and all of their clients all of the time. Right?

Emma: And it’s like, who is the money going to? Where are these resources being given? …So what’s something not natal about your life that you want to share with people?

Katie: Something not natal about my life is that I am — yeah, sure! I am trying to think through things that I do. A not natal thing about my life is as I mentioned earlier, I also wear some spiritual care hats. I’m also getting a masters in divinity, which is in part related to natal stuff, it’s certainly in this realm of holistic spiritual and emotional care for folks. But also means that I’m a little bit of a theology nerd. Also always down to talk theologies of liberation. 

Emma: Right on! Liberation theology folks, hit us up! Amazing, Katie, so where can people find you on the internet?

Katie: You can find me at LGBTQBirth.com, my personal birth support website is BirthWithKatie.com you can also find me on instagram @birthwithkatie. 

Emma: Amazing, thank you!

Categories
interviews

Mystique Hargrove

Mystique Hargrove, she/they, Website and Instagram and Facebook

Emma: Well, welcome, thanks for hanging out with me a little bit this afternoon. I’m really excited to hear more about you and your practice, so do you want to introduce yourself, say where you’re at geographically, and a little bit about the work you do in the world.

Mystique: Thank you, I’m really excited to be here. This is a really dope and amazing experience. My name is Mystique Hargrove, pronouns she/they. I reside here and provide services for Greensboro, NC and the triad surrounding communities. Do a little virtual consultations, services as well. My titles or what I do, I will keep it very general cause it’s a long list and I didn’t realize it until I do these things – I do a lot. So, I’m a certified full-spectrum doula, certified herbal medicine practitioner, community lactation professional and advocate, aspiring to be a future IBCLC, that is in the works, hopefully next year. Doctoral student – woo! A counselor in education in supervision. I’m a single, radical, parent mama as I’m called by my 5 year old, and yeah I’m a part of the LGBTQ community. I’m a very open bisexual, Black, feminine nonbinary… also identify as a woman because that’s just the energy, the femininne energy I align with. What else do I do? I do consultations, I do birth work, I provide postpartum care whether its for birthing bodies, whether its for bodies who’ve terminated pregnancy, grief and loss, also helping with the recovering and healing aspects of either if they want to conceive again or if they just want to heal in general. Kind of the mental health and wellness aspect of it. An aspiring soon to be out of retirement counselor in the community, because that is definitely also needed. So, pretty much, my focus my work is mainly for BIPOC individuals, specifically Black individuals and Black LGBTQ individuals of color. My business pretty much started with servicing sex workers in the black LGBTQ community in the herbal medicine aspect, so I still do that as well. So that is all of what I do in general. 

Emma: Absolutely incredible. We are so glad to, y’know, have you out in the world and be able to kind of even hear you talk about vaguely the scope of what it is you embody is amazing. So to come off of that question and draw more on those queer parts, what are you queering right now?

Mystique: I’m queering the acknowledgement and the awareness.. Checking ignorance, checking biases, just not being ashamed of being my own self and living in my truth. I always say, I was not living in my truth before I “walked in my truth.” I was out, but I was hidden, because I hid myself from y’know, the world. I’m very like, “Yes, I’m bisexual.” just because my partner is a cis man, does not mean now I’m heterosexual. Just because I have a girlfriend does not mean I’m a lesbian! I’m attracted to both genders, I’m pretty much attracted to whatever energies align with me, attracted to me. I’m just loving myself, embracing all pieces of me. Especially those pieces that I’m also healing from when I used to hide myself and not be so out and knowing that I do have a community that accepts me and loves me and can protect me throughout all this mess that is happening. 

Emma: Absolutely, we really need each other.

Mystique: Yes!

Emma: So thank you for sharing that. So, originally – I don’t know what your starting point was to get into this work, but what kind of inspired you to be where you’re at today?

Mystique: My own personal experience when I was pregnant with my now rebellious five year old. I had a very traumatic birthing experience where both of our lives were almost lost. Nobody was listening to me, pretty much ignoring me, it was neglect, my birth plan was thrown out the window. Things I know now – I reflect back and I’m like – that was abuse and neglect, that experience. My own experience and advocating that and kind of creating this circle of other Black folks or other people of color saying, “Yes, I experienced the same thing” brought me to where I’m at now. When somebody, one of my friends was like, “Hey. I run a doula program. You would be great.” You know I’m out advocating for the community and birth work and this/that and the other, so I went to get trained under their doula program. Moreso, I liked the fact that it was community based. Even though the organization that it was under definitely neglects the fact that intersectionality in the community exists. Especially with people of color, my own experiences are very separate. We may all experience discrimination, however, they’re separate. They’re not the same. So she kind of tied that into our training to be community based doulas. To know that you’re not just serving those who have middle to high income and are heterosexual couples. There are single parents, there are those who are teenagers, those who have gone through trauma and sexual assault. It’s various levels to this that you have to work through and navigate through in the community and be aware of. There are people with different family dynamics, who have poly dynamics, or blended families, kindred type of families, guardians – the whole – it was mind blowing. So that even made me want to dive deeper into it, and this is where I am. Continuing to still learn and continuing to check my own biases. Trying to unlearn what I learned growing up because of the community I was around was not very open to the community I serve now. So, you know, once I escaped from that community and was actually into a community that I was taught “this and that” was not even true.. Learning that, I feel comfortable being myself because even at a time, I couldn’t express, “Hey, I’m part of the community that you’re talking trash about” you know? Pretty much my whole experience as birthing and almost losing my life and my son’s life is what pretty much brought me into the work that I do now. 

Emma: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for sharing that. And it’s heavy, and that’s just real. Your work literally saves lives. 

Mystique: Right.  

Emma: That’s, it’s critical. We’re really glad you’re out there. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, and that anybody has to go through that. But that’s why, some of why a lot of people get into it, for sure. 

Mystique: Yes, yes.

Emma: So, you definitely touched on this in all your answers, but to be really explicit, do you have a specific support philosophy that you kind of bring through your work?

Mystique: I’m always about supporting the person where they’re at. Working from where they are, it’s very person-centered. It’s also working, if they have trauma and have experienced trauma in the past. Kind of working with my services, making sure it’s trauma informed and is trauma supportive, as I like to call it. Because trauma cannot be.. It’s so… not black and white. And it’s a lot to navigate through. Regarding just my work, I just work where the person is and just go from there. Given that I’m very direct, but I’m loving. I always call it my “tough love.” I’m not gonna sugar coat it, my client’s know. I don’t sugar coat, I’m here to inform and educate, but also respect your choices as well. Because I don’t want somebody making a choice and they’re not informed or educated. I don’t push, I don’t say – just because I wouldn’t personally choose that, I’m not gonna say “you shouldn’t do that” or whatever, it’s their choice. So if they’re like, “I still want a c section, I know the risk. I know what’s possibly to happen, but I just want you there, should I need to have a c section – I’m all for it…” great. I’m not that type of birth worker that’s like, “No! you should–” I don’t do that. That’s… that- Cause I wouldn’t want anybody to do that to me! If I want to give birth at a river sitting or squatting near a tree, I want my birth worker to be like “Let’s do this. OK. However. You do know, these are the risks, and if you’re aware- ok, let’s do it, but these are the risks and let’s come up with a plan..” So kind of just meeting them where they are, not forcing my own personal preferences on them. Also just checking myself should I feel like I might be shifting toward that type of energy. Which, it happens. You know, I’m normal, I’m human, everybody’s human. So I say, “You know what, you’re right. Let’s formulate a plan. Let’s work with the choice that you want to make and go from there.” So that’s pretty much how I work. I’m very flexible, I’m there for the client, and their needs. Making sure they are informed and educated, though, with their choices. 

Emma: That’s awesome, yeah – and it’s important to acknowledge certain situations that make you question yourself for a second. That’s kind of all you need as a support person, taking a minute to be aware of what you’re thinking of, where your experience is at, and yeah, trying to be present with what’s actually in front of you. 

Mystique: Exactly. Exactly. 

Emma: Amazing, well, we’ve asked about your natal work, and now I want to know about your natal chart! What’s your sun sing, moon and rising?

Mystique: Okay! So I am an Aquarius sun, Taurus moon and Aries rising. And when people hear the Aries rising, they’re like “I get it. Because that’s where the fire is.” My aqua sun, I’m chillin’: I’m just trying to be a humanitarian and serve those in need and advocate and all this great stuff, and y’know, my Aries is that radical knock everything over, flip tables, yell “Yall are gonna hear me, you’re gonna listen to us” type of thing, and my Taurus moon is, I’m chillin. I’m relaxing, “Why are we making such a ruckus, why are we making so much noise? Can we just calm down?” So, luckily I have that nice little balance. (laughs). That’s my natal chart, I love my natal chart. 

Emma: I love it, I think it’s working.

Mystique: Right? It’s a balance! I need it! 

Emma: I’m a Libra, and I was gonna be like, “Seems really balanced!” but that’s also how I tend (laughs). Awesome, so what’s your favorite thing about being a queer perinatal worker or about working with queer and trans families, and queer and trans families of color?

Mystique: I love the fact that everybody is different. Everybody presents a different – it’s never a boring day, it’s never a boring time period at all. I also allow celebrating us, because we don’t get to do that a lot. And when we do, it kind of gets shut down, and some of us are like, “Well, maybe I did too much.” So I’m the type, again here’s my Aries rising, who’s like “No, we’re gonna celebrate, we’re gonna be loud because we’re here, we’re queer, get over it – like they said!” I just love the fact that we have different expressions, different identities, and we can just come together knowing that we are a community that faces through all this mess, through all the discrimination, through all the hate crimes, and the trageties that are happening to our communities, we can be there for– Ooh we are so strong– for each other, and supportive, even if we feel like, “I’m gonna give up, I can’t..” I will say my own support system, which is majority LGTBQ, I will send a text like, “I don’t know if I can do this, I’m throwing in this towel,” and instantly it’s like, “You better be so glad that we’re in a pandemic and I can’t come over there and shake you and say, ‘NOPE, we’re gonna dance it out, whatever, we’re gonna go for a walk.’” Just that supportive collective, to just be there and be strong and just be like a unified front. I really love how we bring that energy for each other and just in our communities as well. 

Emma: That’s awesome, gives me the warm fuzzies. I wish you could have your lil queer shaking friends like, “get it together!!”


Mystique: Yes!

Emma: At least we’ll do that digitally for now, we’re connected. Amazing. So, speaking of perinatal care in general, your own experience – what is something that you’d hope to improve for queer and trans birthing families and families of color? 

Mystique: I’m hoping to improve the awareness just being mindful that everything is not so binary. Intersectionality, or being intersectional, exists. In all of this. Knowing that this work is very intersectional, we are very diverse and being aware of checking those biases like I spoke about earlier, but also using inclusive language. Also understanding that using inclusive language does not dismiss or neglect anybody else that is or identifies as being binary, cisgendered or heterosexual. We’re not excluding you, you’re included! So, that’s kind of the tough, that’s a challenge that I’m being presented with. Explaining what being inclusive means and when you’re using inclusive language in this work. “I’m a woman, I identify as a mother or a mom” it’s not dismissing you, it’s including everybody. And to wrap it all up, I will say, inclusive language or say “those who not only identify as ‘mom’ and ‘female’ but also, we have to understand pronouns and identity, such as she/they, they/them, nonbinary bodies, transgender bodies, and breaking down that there’s transgender women, transgender men, transgender nonbinary people. Breaking that down, and understanding but also coming from a space of knowing that I can’t let my hot head get to me – my Aries rising get to me. Let’s take it down, let’s breathe through it cause this is an opportunity to inform and educate. So that is pretty much what I’m dealing with, making sure we’re using inclusive language and not only that, but we know, you know in certain spaces. That is the challenge. Slowly but surely, progress is being made. Of course there’s kick back, there’s rejection, it’s expected. But I know I’m doing my job of what I can do, my end, my part in all of this. Knowing I’m not alone and I’m not by myself in this. Yes, it’s a battle, but we are strong and we’re gonna keep it moving, we’re gonna keep it going because you guys will understand that this work is not so binary. It’s checking those heavy heteronormative agendas as well.

Emma: Amazing, I mean it’s such a deep seated debate in the birth world. 

Mystique: Yes it is. Woof.

Emma: Y’know, I’m not referring to every single person in the world who’s ever had a baby when I say “mom”!

Mystique: Exactly. 

Emma: Sure, we’re just acknowledging that “you’re a mom.” It takes time, and it’s good to be with other birth workers who are seeing it like that and being in that community. We gotta hang out with each other more.

Mystique: Right!

Emma: Well I’m curious if you have any pieces of advice for aspiring queer/trans birth workers, lactation counselors, herbalits, phD candidtaes, any of that. 

Mystique: I would say, I was guilty of that same y’know “What am I doing wrong? Why am I not being heard or being taken seriously?” just overthinking things. Don’t compare your journey to other birth workers or lactation counselors or whatever. Don’t compare your journey to them. This is your own journey. Through your own journey, you will discover that when you have … walking your own truth and navigating through that. You’re constantly navigating through that throughout this. See how, when you transform yourself and and start walking in your truth, you’ll start transforming the way you do work. Especially for your community, especially communities who are marginalized, neglected and dismissed. Elevating to the next level. Next levels come with even more stress, so kind of being aware of your own biases as well, because we tend to forget that we’re like, “ra ra ra, let’s be inclusive, make sure you respect me and my community” we all have our own biases. We don’t know everything – everybody doesn’t know everything. So it’s important to learn from each other, and learn from those who are in those represented communities that you’re not. For instance, I know nothing about those who are in the disability community, who are disabled. I don’t know and I haven’t lived that life, so I communicate with those –especially if they are queer and trans disabled people– I can’t speak on their experiences, so I want to know that, especially if I have a client who is in that situation, and they feel comfortable with me working with them. I also want to have that resource to bring in, as well. 

Also, know your worth. Just because you’re trained and you’re in training and you’re gaining experiences, it’s ok to know your worth, to price what you’re worth. It’s OK, you can get paid as a trained birth worker. I got paid as a trained birth worker. I was surprised that I would! They were like, “I’m not having you do all this work for free.” You’ll be surprised – a lot of people understand the hard work that comes with birth work. That comes with being in the community, being an actual community birth worker, they understand that it’s a fight. You’re fighting for that community, those people, those individuals. So, charge your worth. Don’t compare yourself. Definitely work on checking biases, charge your worth. And just take your time, learn as much as you can. But – and I’d stress this, because I always get fussed at – self-care is very important. That is a priority. And it’s sad if you have to schedule self-care, cause now I gotta schedule it, but it’s done. You have to do what you have to do to actually schedule self care because you can’t be an empty cup trying to fill other cups. It does not work. It will tip over, and nothing will be coming out of you but dust. So, self care is definitely, definitely important. Whatever that looks like that is healthy, in a way that that helps you cope with whatever stressers, heaviness, weighted energies are thrown your way. So self care is important in this work because if not, you will be burnt out. We can’t have burnt out birth workers cause we got too much work to do, so take care of yourself. Definitely. 

Emma: So true. We need you, we need you to stick around for a few years, longer than just a few years. 

Mystique: Yes, yes. 

Emma: Excellent survival guide for starting out in the perinatal field! Awesome, what upcoming projects – do you have anything that you’d like to cross-pollinate with the community or is there anything you’re trying to spread pollen on?

Mystique: Yes, so beginning next month, I’m doing a free virtual support group for black postpartum moms and parents, it will be definitely a variety of these postpartum groups. One focused on just parenting-wise, navigating through that. One focused on grief and loss, because that is also a thing as well. And one focusing on healing and recovery in general, should they terminate a pregnancy, — so there will be various support groups that will trickle on throughout the year, but the first one will be focused on Black postpartum parents, and that aspect and examining what it looks like. What healing and wellness looks like for Black postpartum parents. The next one will be starting next month, I will be offering two free to very-low-cost postpartum services to BIPOC bodies, just doesn’t matter what their situation is as far as postpartum is concerned, that service will be focused on their healing and recovery. But it will just be two, I’ll pick two every month and the free service will go to one who is either no-low income, and the very low-cost will be to those who are actually employed, making a specific amount. My focus is mainly helping to serve those who are in need, especially who can’t afford a lot of these postpartum services that are out. A lot of people have been financially affected by the pandemic. Luckily I was able to promote that, provide that to the community, so that will be starting next month.

Emma: That’s really amazing, and I’m looking forward to asking how we can support that in a moment, but before we wrap up, I’m curious if you have anything not perinatal about your life that you want to share?

Mystique: Well, I did have, I hit a parenting milestone moment that my five-year-old is losing his first tooth. I don’t know how to take it. I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, you are really gr..” and he was fine with it until he heard he could get money for the tooth, and now he’s working on trying to get the tooth out and I’m like, “Leave it alone” It’s kind of like a moment of “Wow, you are actually growing up. This is really happening. Wow.” and then my partner just stepping in and being that parenting figure for him, it’s amazing. We realized that, “You know that you’ve been around for over two years?” He’s’ like “Yeah!” Whoa! So, we celebrated that. We went to Baltimore to celebrate our anniversary, cause that was kind of the safest way to celebrate it. It was supposed to be Miami, but no- we decided to make it a little safer for us. But other than that, just the parenting moment of my child is, he’s growing up. He’s just so aware of things and he’s always into “what is mama doing?” If I’m studying, he wants to be there studying with me, so it’s a really “aha” moment. My child is growing up and he’s really interested in seeing what his mama is doing and if he sees me trying to do services or take care of one of my doula babies, he’s very helpful. He’s like, “Mom, I’m your assistant” I’m watching my kid grow up! It’s a beautiful moment to reflect that, wow, we went through what we went through and now we’re here type of moment. Parenting is hard! (laughs) it’s so hard. But it teaches me patience that I need for other things in life, so yeah.

Emma: That’s so amazing. It sounds like he’s turning out pretty good if he’s like, super into all the work you’re doing. That’s just an extension of the work, making examples for future generations. And five is such a big kid age. Awesome, well, I’m curious where people can find you and support your projects on the internet. Especially the low-cost post-pregnancy care that you’re offering. Where can we follow up with you?


Mystique: So, social media, Facebook The Black Birth Healer. You just type it in, I’ll pop up, you’ll see my face. Instagram is @BlackBirthHealer and my website is www.theblackbirthhealer.com So soon I’ll be posting about my projects on my website, but Instagram as well, and more details will come with that.

Emma: Amazing, thank you so much for being here today!

Mystique: Thank you for having me, this was awesome.