“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Wisdom awaits in the stories of those whose experiences don't reflect the dominant narrative. I have started a collection of stories and testimonials from people I've had the privilege of working with in an effort to center courageous voices around what birth and a holistic approach to wellness really looks and feels like.
Birth in My Home
Giving birth from home was the most amazing experience I have ever been apart of. It was a dream come true. For as long as I can remember I've always wanted to give birth in a comfortable, loving and safe environment. My experience with giving birth at a hospital with my first child was horrific. I felt like I was taken advantage of, because of my lack of knowledge. There were countless nurses and doctors in and out of my room; they never encouraged me to push through the pressure, they only kept asking if I was ready to get an epidural. They clipped the umbilical cord as soon as she came out, they didn't put her on my chest, and when she stitched me up she was teaching a student doctor. I felt like a school project. I was so filled with emotion that I didn't even speak up I just allowed all this to happen.
After that experience I made sure I educated myself on every element of child birth. I knew I wasn't ever going back to another hospital so I prepared myself for a home water birth. This is when I learned what a Doula was. I didn't even know a sacred work such as this existed. When you think about giving birth, a lot of attention goes toward the child and safety of the process. When I read that a Doula supports the mother through emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically I knew I had to find one for my second birth.
When I meet Shanika I felt like she was very knowledgeable and more importantly passionate about this work. She was connected to the work from her personal experience as well as her continuous studies around child birth. When we met in person she was someone that I could say I admired. She was breastfeeding her toddler which has to take an abundant amount of patience and love. She was meek and just an all around natural. It was refreshing to be in her presence considering I was envisioning these kind ofpeople coming into my life. After our countless conversations on faith, family and community I truly felt a bond that could be described as sisterhood. Women loving on women, encouraging, inspiring, and educating one another through our talents and gifts.
When I was in labor I felt mentally prepared until the process began to speed up. It was at that point when she came through the door. I felt a relief. I didn't know what she was gonna say or do, but I felt comforted that she was there and I knew she was there for ME. She gave sound instruction and she was so calm yet strong. I fed off her energy in my weakest moments. I can recall a time when I just was exhausted from pushing and she noticed that I was pushing outward instead of downward. I looked at her with eyes ready to give up and she said "push down" giving an example to follow after two strong downward pushes my baby was out. After baby was here she stayed around until everyone left and made sure me and my husband were okay. This kind of work has to be divine and sacred, because it is rare you have strangers caring for strangers in this manner. Shanika is my sister. Distance nor time will ever destroy the bond we have built and are continuing to build. I would tell you all about the time she drove all the way to my house to take me to a lactation nurse so that I wouldn't give up on breastfeeding because I didn't have any transportation, but I don't know if that's in her services lol. Honestly she is divine and I would refer, recommend and reuse her gift as a birth worker. Peace and Love.
When Your Doula Feels like Family
I believe, without a doubt, that it was Shanika’s presence at my birth that helped create a peaceful, loving, and warm environment to welcome my child to the world.
My partner, who is TGNC, and I were very conscientious in planning for our birth. We had chosen to aim for an unmedicated birth, had gone to multiple classes on labor and delivery, and had talked about our expectations for when our child arrived. Even with this, we were not even close to prepared for the pain and unpredictability of my actually being in labor. When Shanika arrived at 4am she immediately took control, supporting my partner in supporting me and encouraging me to breathe low, allow myself to relax, and keeping me focused on my end goal. Though I was ready to go to the hospital upon her arrival, we were able to wait three more hours – meaning I was dilated to 8.5 cm when we arrived at the hospital (on Easter!). Within four hours, I had had my baby.
From the beginning to the end, Shanika knew what I needed without me having to ask. She coached me through positions, massaged me through contractions, warmed the space with essential oils, provided water and honey sticks for energy, and infused the experience with as much calm as my frenzied self would allow. For my partner, Shanika served as a guide. Because she intrinsically knew how to support my body, she provided space for my partner to be emotionally present and loving without having to predict what I physically needed next. Following the birth, Shanika stood next to me and held my hand for over an hour while I was sewn and my partner was with our baby and the doctors. I never felt like she had somewhere else to be, she was fully present in my experience.
I’ll be honest – when Shanika and I initially decided she would be present at my birth, I agreed with a little hesitation. I wasn’t totally sold on the good it would do for me. After my birth, I can say with 100% certainty that besides having my child, working with Shanika was the best decision my partner and I could have made – and I would sing that from the rooftops. She helped my partner and I create the most calm, loving space we could for our newborn baby.
Body Butter Review
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