African American midwifery – Omited from studies.. Something Needs to Change.

To whom it concerns:

Black history month has come and passed and within the birth world that I am deeply involved in, I have come to learn that February will probably be the only month I hear about the rich history of African-American Midwives. Then usually Midwifery Organizations will usually close those gates of knowledge for the next 11 months and their social media sites will then again plaster the photos of women who are not of color having their perfect home birth. In the midst of those pictures and great stories may come up the fact that black women and their babies are not faring so well when it comes to birth. Yet that is soon forgotten when an article comes out titled “Home Births Rising Among White Women, Report Says”. Who would ever use that as a title I have no idea, yet I will admit they did a great job at grabbing the attention of readers. Yet it also reminded me of what I have stated before “the natural birth movement leaves women of color behind way behind”

I stand by this statement even more so when the article “Childbirth Abolitionists”  written by Jan Tritten who is the mother of Midwifery Today. The article shows how disconnected she is from the black community and yet how scary it is that this midwife thought this article was brilliant. Yes, she may have said sorry after being called out. Though the fact that she published the article leaves me to think that she really thought it would have been this thought-provoking piece, which was going to somehow change the birth worlds thinking. It left me feeling numb. Numb because I no longer have feelings to give and put out there when I see things like this written by people who claim to care. That part of my heart has frozen over and fallen off. You can only scream “my race does not need saving or a pity party” so many times at a computer screen. You can only argue on how forming a group for birth workers of color is not racist and sure as hell isn’t excluding anyone that we just want a safe space to talk. After a while you just aren’t surprised any more.

Yet this letter wasn’t supposed to go into those issues. What I wanted to do with this letter was address the fact that my midwifery required/recommended reading material is missing an important part of history. The mention of African-American midwives before Ina Mays time has somehow gone missing from my reading material. In fact looking at many midwife programs for CPM’S I am more likely to have to read a book about a Midwife from a foreign country than I am about reading a book about a African-American midwife.

In fact my reading list has turned into the Ina May Gaskin Party. I am not saying she is not important but I will say without the Black midwives who delivered 1000’s of babies of black women as well as poor white women, the same black midwives who passed down their skills and knowledge to their daughters and other black women of the community, who kept midwifery alive even when many women were flocking to hospitals to have their baby, there would have probably been no Ina May Gaskin.
Yet no mention of that in my books.

Nor are the names :
Margret Charles Smith- former enslaved women who delivered 3,500 babies without a death of a mother and few babies.
Mary Jane Lawson Trust – First Black licensed midwife in the state of West Virginia
Maude Callen, or the fact that many of these black midwives were run out of practicing by states outlawing midwives. Not because they cared about the mothers delivering these babies, yet due to a system full of racism and greed.

In none of my books does it speak of 1976 in Alabama in which 150 black midwives were threatened to be jailed if they continued to practice.
Wasn’t the farm formed in 1971? So I believe the “Mother of authentic midwifery” really isn’t the mother at all. Nor is this an attack on her, yet more so pointing out how I do not understand why more of her books appear on reading list yet never
Granny Midwives and Black Women Writers: Double-Dutched Readings
LISTEN TO ME GOOD: THE STORY OF AN ALABAMA MIDWIFE (WOMEN & HEALTH C&S PERSPECTIVE)
AFRICAN AMERICAN MIDWIFERY IN THE SOUTH
Black Pioneers: Images of the Black Experience on the North American Frontier
These stories left to be discovered at a later date if ever.

Nor is any of this mentioned when I see the many “fund the black midwives campaigns” that I have been tagged in about 20 times now.
What I do see is a campaign that tells me the mortality rate of black mothers and their babies. Then I see a link for women of color to apply for scholarships to help fund their midwifery journey. Yet when the books are ordered there will be barely any mention of the women they could relate to during these studies and that is unacceptable and needs to change.
You cannot tell a group of women that their presence is needed then turn around and omit their presence from their studies.

  A more culturally inclusive curriculum is needed in midwifery training in order to provide culturally competent care. Midwifery care is not a service of affluent white women, but should be offered as an option of all cultures and socioeconomic statuses.

I challenge schools to change their required reading list to included books about the mothers who kept midwifery alive, I also extent this challenge to MANA and NARM, even ACNM.
I also would like to see not just keeping black birth worker accomplishments to Black history month.
I also won’t limit this to just Black midwives, yet I also want this for the Native American, Asian, and Mexican/Central American whose work is not mentioned and lost in the shuffle.
Maybe my voice will be left unheard, yet I could not continue to go through with my studies while screaming to myself that this complete and utter bull.

Much thanks to Friend Venita LS for your feedback.

No.. Just .. No – MLK Day sale

I love a great sale, and until recently believed there was no such thing as a bad one. Until I came across this story:

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/289169/group/homepage/

I honestly don’t know whats worse the actual for sale sign or the fact Owner Rachel Mock truly thinks there is nothing wrong her sign.

Rachel Mock I would love to invite you out to coffee to discuss what was just not right with your sale. Yet,  I have no plans to go to Duluth anytime soon ( Even though you are just 2 hours and 24 mins away). So I will just think out loud here.

I will not yell nor try to explain how you are some horrible person. I will not say how you are some racist who has yet to discover you are racist, or that you had ill intentions about your sale.

Yet I will tell you what was wrong with your sign.

I shouldn’t have to tell you, in a country that has a history of selling ACTUAL BLACK PEOPLE, that your sales gimmick  is culturally tone deaf and racist.

You sign announcing “25 percent of anything black” just continued the cycle of some how black is not beautiful nor worth much. Yes I know you just see your sign as a sale of material things trying to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King. I see it as just confirming the message I was exposed to since I was a young child.

Black will just never be good enough.

Whether it was hearing my sister being teased for her much darker skin, or seeing other family members claiming their beauty on the fact that they were mixed with something. Apparently just claiming one was just black wasn’t good enough to be considered beautiful.

I won’t even get started in the subtle messages given by skin bleaching creams sitting on the shelves, right about the perms in the ethnic Hair Care aisle.

Your 25% percent sign reminds me of the statement: Blacks babies cost less to adopt

Or the many times I have walked into animal shelters and found the black animals rates less because no one wants them.

You see there is a stigma associated with the color black, and though you may think its nothing and a bunch of people are trying to be politically correct, you did strike a nerve.

Yet you don’t understand the nerve stuck, because it doesn’t affect you in any way. You intent doesn’t magically erase the fact of what you actions have done. Nor the fact that yes you are wrong.

As for Martin Luther King being so fly… I am pretty sure if he were here today with us he would have taken that as a compliment. Yet he is not, and all we have left of the man you have named “super fly” is a legacy of his work, and continuing on with his dream. If that is all you have to say about the man who had a dream, then I will polity suggest one goes and cracks open a history book.

While you are checking out your history books I would also like you to check out

U
npacking the Invisible Knapsack

Race: White Privilege

 

Tell ‘em Why you mad

I met Ashley Wright randomly on Facebook. She friended me and we quickly bonded over being mothers of color who had a similar parenting style and were breastfeeding. I admire her. Her post below was written after a Wet- Nursing photo was posted on The Bad-ass Breast feeder. Nothing was wrong with the photo its self. Yet the comments that came after of how beautiful the picture was and the unity that came with it, showed there was a Huge disconnect. In response The Bad-ass Breast feeder apologize to the black community about the pain it may have brought. That didn’t go over well either. She was told how it was racist to call black people black ( which is news to me). Oh and the comments of how nothing was offensive and people need to get over it poured in. Then it turned into well the woman wasn’t a slave she was a paid wet-nurse. Which was supposed to some how suppose to change the situation. This is when Ashley called me and we talked for a good hour. She wrote her response as we talked and then read it to me. I had to even stop and pause as she read it. Yet her words are true and I had to share.

 

As a Black Woman the picture alone is not offensive. The ignorance and hate which brought about her displayed action in the photo is; and certainly doesn’t depict unity as which was first thought by the admin whose intent was only to share love.

Since many of you all cannot think back to what it was like to be Black in 1910, and as displayed have no freaking clue from the lack of color I see in the strand, please allow me to shed some light and information. As a daughter of a father who was born in the 1940s, who picked cotton in Mississippi (segregation still existed at this time), whose mother (my grandmother) was “The Help”, a “disgusting” job as she called it, I have been told many stories of how WE were mistreated, misguided, hated and unappreciated. We were low class, matter of fact not even considered human beings, only able to occupy “professions” that they allowed us to have to make us believe we were providing for our families by paying back debts of working in the fields and in homes. Yes, you read me correctly. Paying back debts from working in the fields. You see, when we were allegedly set free, the white man had to find ways to keep us put. That meant, continuing to work for the tools and clothes that were given to us, the produce that we had previously eaten the years before and not to mention the straws of hay and sheds that some of us were so fortunate to have slept in. Many times being a wet nurse was the only thing the older Black women could do and were forced to do to pay back debts and be a contributor; as they were too slow to be outside and too ugly to help out in the house. They simply weren’t allowed to just grow old. Oh no, definitely not going to waste any man power in any area, so put the old cow to be a wet nurse.

Most times, photos of Blacks back then, were to show off the owner’s slaves and Black workers. They were trophies, prize winning, domesticated, bred, livestock not wonderful people who came into their life to help out around the house and voluntarily care for the children. In 1910 there was no unity of black and white. The only thing the people stood united on then, was the fact that Blacks are dumb niggers who have to be controlled.

So the reason for the uproar and the continued offense is not the photo. We all can appreciate history and the simple act of breastfeeding. What we, Blacks, have a hard time swallowing is the fact, apparent from the comments, is the continued action, a continued mindset, a continued hate, a continued wakeup call that my white “friends” may simply go home and write some of the same comments some of you all have; projecting superiority, ignorance and racism well into 2013. This is the pain of a Black woman and an even deeper fear for a Black mother as she strives to teach no color lines yet awareness with a simple phrase of “they don’t really like you and they wont ever understand”.

 

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More of Ashley here

The Jameson House

SIDS is the leading cause of death for Infants 1 month to 12 months old. Each year SIDS claims the lives of almost 2,500 infants in the US  – that’s nearly 7 babies every day. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) defines SIDS as the sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation. SIDS occurs in families of all races an social economic backgrounds and in spite of parents doing everything “right” to lower the risks, SIDS cannot be prevented.

October is SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a month I hold close to my heart. In honor of this month I have chosen to share the Jameson House story.I was introduced to this family some time ago when a friend was asking for prayers because they had lost their son Jameson to SIDS. That same friend introduced me to their now project of creating a house parents who have lost their children to SIDS can come grieve, talk and receive help and support.

 

The Jameson House does not exist, yet. This is our story and vision…and why The Jameson House needs to be built. January 2nd, 2013 was the most incredible day of our lives.

Jameson Reid Stidger

Jameson Reid Stidger

At 2:17 a.m. Jameson Reid Stidger was brought into this world. I will never forget the look on her face when Jameson was put on the baby warmer…seeing the look in Gabby’s eyes that she was a Mom, finally after, carrying him for nine months. From that day forward, her life had changed. Gabby was a “mom” to my other three children but this was her own flesh and blood. I could tell then and there that she was born to be a Mother and her purpose in life was to nurture this little boy. For Gabby’s entire pregnancy, she did everything by the book. She took her pre-natal vitamins religiously, ate healthy, didn’t drink or smoke. Gabby is a RN (registered nurse) and knew the importance of doing things right.

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  She was a perfect Mom…from the day he was born until that day he was taken from us. I home office and she worked nights. Our  schedules worked out perfectly. I would watch him at night and when she got home in the morning, she would take over. Their nap time was so consistent…I could walk over to the couch where they were both sleeping at exactly 10:15 and take a picture of them sleeping together. It was beautiful to see a bond between a Mother and child that I had never seen before. They were in love.

 

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July 2nd ,2013 was a perfect day…we went to the pool as a family and had a wonderful time. This was the first day that 6 month old Jameson felt comfortable in the water. Later on that day we went out for dinner, went back home so Gabby could get ready to do her overnight nursing job. It was a usual routine. I would watch baby Jameson while she either napped or got ready for work, or both. His soft skin and beautiful smile. The way he would get shy sometimes. His funny, yet cute little hair part. His wonderful giggle. That day was a perfect day, our lives were perfect, even though our schedules were quit hectic. Everyone fought for Jameson’s attention. All the kids would want to hold him or take him for a walk. He was the light of all of our lives

 

 

. July 3rd, 2013…out lives changed forever. I woke up at 7:17 a.m. to find little Jameson lying on his stomach. When I went to turn him over, I knew he was not breathing. As panicked as I was, I gave him mouth to mouth and CPR. I placed a call to 911 and was hysterical, not only to know that our healthy, happy Jameson had gained wings…but to know that Gabby was going to come home from work wanting to feed him and do their daily routine. It was horrific. Words cannot explain the feelings or emotions. The image of that morning will be burned into my memory forever. Gabby came home to a nightmare that unfolded in front of her. Police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and worst of all, the coroners vehicle. The only questions was “why”? Why did this have to happen to him…to us? He was perfect in every way. Why would God take our son from us? Why?!?

July 7th, 2013 We buried our little boy, personally setting him in the grave to rest. Knowing that was his body and his spirit was in Heaven. Gabby and I were not in our right minds, and will never be. Gabby wanted to be with her son, not having a plan to kill herself, just not be here. The next morning, a doctor’s appointment was set up for her for evaluation. July 8th, 2013. In the morning, Gabby was admitted into a mental health ward in a Minneapolis Hospital. It was not the place for her. Gabby, being a nurse, knew what kind of help she needed and this was not the place. She called me crying hysterically shortly after we had left, telling me this was not the place for her and to PLEASE come pick her up…even pulling the “if you love me” card. I explained that we couldn’t but I would do my best to get her out. After spending two hours with her crying on the phone to me, I went back the same day to get her out, to no avail. I got her out the next day. She told me how awful the nurses were and had nobody to talk to. We were promised that she was going to get help. If you call showing where she was going to be sleeping and a nurse calling her disheveled “getting help”, than it was a success. She cried up and down the hall hysterically for hours, and nobody cared. Gabby needed to be with her family.

The one thing that came out of her being in lock up was her idea of The Jameson House. While lying in that white room, with nothing on the walls, she imagined the perfect place. A place that hand comfortable beds, walking paths, a bench around a pond to watch wildlife…someplace serine. Most importantly, a place with therapists, RN’s and a doctor to do rounds once a day. We would also offer clergy for each patience’s preference of religion. The Jameson House would be a get away from all the people calling and knocking at the door, dropping of the next pan of lasagna. A place to grieve, heal and learn how to carry the pain and to get the necessary help. We later got a bill for $4100 from the hospital, for the worst possible care, ever. TJH would be free for the first two weeks. July 9th. We brought Gabby home, where she belonged, but stopped to see a therapist on our way. She made us feel at ease and it comforted us slightly, but did not take the pain away.

We just have to try to learn how to carry it. There have been many nights that Gabby has been crying on the garage floor and me lying next to her. So many times saying to ourselves that we both need to be at The Jameson House…that does not exist. The tears. The anger. The questions in our minds of why. Everyone we talk to think TJH is an incredible idea. The Jameson house does not exist, yet. We are taking all the steps to put it into motion. The plan is to build the first one in the Minneapolis area, in the suburbs on some acreage. We are having plans drawn up of what the house will look like. Taking into consideration that the walls have to be sound proof and all rooms handicap accessible. We would want meetings every week for grief groups and SIDS, so there would have to be a ample room. We would want a large kitchen area and dining area to accommodate 4-8 couples. It helps to be surrounded by people that are going through the same tragic experience. The floor plans of TJH would stay the same in every city that is built around America, we would just have to find the land to build them on. There are thousands if not tens of thousands of people in our same state of mind that could use a place like TJH to feel comfort, right now.

 

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For More on the Jameson House Project or how you give to this project please visit the links below:

The Jameson House Facebook Page

Jameson House Webpage

Connect on twitter

On October 15th at 7:00pm I ask you to join me and others across the world in lighting a candle in honor of Pregnancy and Infant loss Remembrance day.

More than just baby stuff, Bees, and if babies ruled the world. (Giveaway!)

So this weekend I was in Spring Valley, WI helping my dear friend Ali with her store opening of Bizzing Bea! I was pretty excited: No toddler, Country living and cheese curds! I even wore my cowboy boots to fit in. Though I learned no one wears cowboy boots in small towns and my act of trying to fit in was received with laughs by the locals. Here are some pictures of Ali’s store:

Bizzing Bea is more than just cloth diapers and pacifiers, there are also treats for moms of the babies. Including: Lunette cups, Essential oils ( LuSa Organics), Watkins cleaning supplies ( which are safe to use around kids), and Noodle and boo. All awesome for adults and kiddos OK will except the Lunette cups. The store has a beautiful open layout. I highly suggest you visit this week if in Spring Valley (Store at the moment is a trial run and will close Thursday until things are sorted out).

Though eventually we were taken over by the babies of the store, here is their picture story:

Ella offed  her mommy and took over the store.

Ella offed her mommy and took over the store.

Then trouble came in from the west:

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Where he stopped at the local bar for shots of breastmilk before he started trouble in town:

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Then he stopped at Bizzing Bea and attempted to destroy the store with diaper pins :

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This landed him behind bars:

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Where he found a RE-PLAY spoon to attempt to make a shank out of. He failed.

Where he found a RE-PLAY spoon to attempt to make a shank out of. He failed.

Well after begging and pleading he and the store owner made up:

20130921_170039Then he left town to never ever return:

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Then some how the adults put Ella in baby jail and we took back the store though no pictures of that battle.

Now time for a story. I have learned even if I cross state lines crazy ish still happens to me. This time I discovered I was allergic to bees. Yes bees which Ironically is the mascot of Bizzing Bea.  I even had received a warning before all of this craziness happened. During a babywearing demo I was teaching at the store, a woman had warned the kids to not leave your pop outside, that the bees would go after it. I apparently decide to be idiot of the day. Because with in 2 hours I was sitting on our parade float, with a pop that had been opened for about an hour. Just before I drank from that pop Ali’s husband had just chased a bee away. Well I drank from my pop, a second later I felt a sharp pain and something fighting to get out. I spit and cried and there was the bee. Now most people would have some swelling after being stung in the mouth. Well I had some swelling and more.

Here is me before the sting:

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Here is me after:

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Isn’t that super sexy?

Oh and by the time I arrived to the E.R I had a natural duck face:

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My sweet husband laughed.

Though after a steroid shot and a ton of Benadryl later I looked a bit better and slept the rest of the day away.

Now on to the giveaway!!!

So in honor of Ali’s store opening we have a pretty sweet giveaway! A Bottombumpers custom Diaper!! With the Bizzing Bea Bee on the butt!!!

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This diaper is a Large and light blue. I wanted to steal it for myself. Baby is not included. (Retail value $25) Enter Below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bottombumpers diapers are made right here in America!  More about them here: Bottombumpers

You can also find them in Bizzing Bea and online Bizzing Beas website.

Good luck on the giveaway! Also if in Spring Valley this week come visit the store! Also avoid drinking pop that has been sitting out in the open, there may be a bee in it.

Catbird baby Pikkolo- Everyone loves a giveaway!

I have to admit I may have adult ADD which has resulted in a Catbird Baby Pikkolo Carrier to sit on my bookshelf for a good two months. I thought the box has made a great decoration to our home. Yet my husband disagrees and has said it needs to go, like now.

Well I first bought my Pilkkolo online, at this point I had an ergo but wanted another carrier. Well it came i the mail and it instantly became my hiking and dog park carrier because of the back strap cross support in the back when I would carry Lyam on my front.

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Some specifics”

Recommended weight – 8 to 40 pounds

The Pikkolo is based on Mei Tai style Carriers.

Carrier includes a hood, chest strap and instructions.  There is an optional Support waist belt, I never used one with mine.

100% Cotton

You can do a Front carry ( Never tested it out here. Says that front carry is ergonomic, yet I have doubts about that), Hip Carry ( I loved the hip carry with this carrier better than with any other soft structure carrier), and Back Carry.

The fabric felt great! No having to breaking in!

My favorite feature No falling down pants. What do my pants have to do with a carrier? I am not the only one who has put a carrier on and once you start walking your pants start to fall down? Well the fact that there is no supportive belt and you have a fabric only like waistband your pants will never fall! Its like Magic. Though you can buy a supportive waist band, and it is suggested for children over 20 pounds. I never felt like I needed one.

Though this carrier did not go knee to knee fabric wise with my oldest who is two. It was surprisingly comfy and the fabric came pretty close to his knees. Though Fabric to knee is not required, it can make carrying bigger kids more comfortable.

Things I would like to change.

Storage. There is no storage compartments for anything on the Pikkolo. So this carrier would not be an all day around town carrier for me. So though I used it for hiking. I could not go hiking all day with it.

Thought the memory padded straps are great. They tend to be bulky for putting it in the diaper bag. Yet though I am pretty sure you can have one or the other and not everything.

If you are petite … this may not be the carrier for you. The straps are wide and may “overwhelm” you.

The webbing while strong, was too hard to pull through to tighten the carrier. At some points I would have to take the carrier off to tighten it. Yet mt Carrier is an older version. So this may have changed.

Due to the pikkolo not having a supportive belt automatically. My husband found it confusing. Yet all husbands are different.

Over all the Pikkolo is pretty great. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars

My toddler in the Pikkolo

My toddler in the Pikkolo

Now enough of my rambling on. Would you like a chance to win a Pikkolo? Thanks to Catbird Baby you can!! Just enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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