Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chula Doula Goes to Midwifery School

As the Universe would have it, I was invited to be a part of a unique study group and midwifery class.
After about 2 years as a doula, I began to have vivid dreams of catching babies.  They were incessant and profound. Twice Ina May Gaskin spoke to me in them.  This all was happening around the time I visited Peru, and more frequent while in Cusco.

I met with a Peruvian doula and told her about my baby catching dreams, shared my anxiety about not really being sure I could handle that level of education.  I had a difficult time completing my undergrad at Scripps, it took me 8 long years to graduate and be allowed to walk.  Of course there is residual trauma from seeking higher education from an institution such as Scripps College. I was not sure I wanted to go through that again. Also, I was questioning if I could actually metabolize and keep the information given to me.

She asked me if I'd ever looked into going to the Farm in Tennessee to at least take the Midwifery Assistant Training, and I responded that I thought it was too far.  She gave me perspective by saying, "Pati, you're in Peru right now, Tennessee is in your country." It was suggested that I take the week intensive and see how I digested the info.  This is the story of taking advice from people who saw something in me, when I couldn't see it.

I returned to the US determined to get to the Farm, I was hesitant yet thrilled.  Hesistant because I knew I'd be in a class most likely predominantly white/anglo, and thrilled because the material I'd be learning would be a real check-in with myself about these dreams and visions and sensations I'd been having, I'd get the chance to see if this is what I really want to do.

Tennessee was a fascinating experience, the chance to be in nature was so healing for an urban woman like me.  I could feel the lack of electro pollution, I would say it made it easier to learn and take in the education.  At the same time, it felt like knowledge being returned to me, something in my cells being awoken- completely different than college.  And of course, the class was lacking of people of color, we definitely were the minority.  You see what happens in these spaces is almost a complete disconnect from our roots, traditions, social issues, we get lumped into a general population mentality and we don't get to address disparities and our cultural differences/experiences as real information.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that birth as a whole in the US is completely taken over by the medical establishment and doulas and midwives are trying to meet the needs of folks seeking alternatives, but I'm gonna be real and tell you how hard it is as a woman of color, a queer woman of color at that, to see how much my communities are not included in these efforts, we are at the margins, and we are the ones that we've been waiting for.

SO, with all that, all the realness and all the true magic and power of manifestation that I contain within me, and within my communities-- we were handed a midwifery program that works for US.

I scoped out many schools, programs, etc. for midwifery.  None seemed to really meet me where I'm at, none seemed to value who I already was, and I wasn't about to jump through ridiculous hoops to get to where I need to be.

I was invited to present my workshop "Igniting the Revolution Within: A Sex-Positive Approach to Healing in the Postpartum" for the California Association for Midwifery Conference in May of 2011.  I was honored to be welcomed to this space of the conference and share on a subject that is beneficial to midwives doing the work.  At the same time, CAM made it a point to open the conference to folks that usually wouldn't be able to enter this specific space. Many women of color, aspiring midwives, low-income women, and doulas were invited to participate and soak in the information available to midwives.  We showed up, we were a large number, there was a MOC Caucus where we were able to share our concerns about going to midwifery school, Why hadn't we all already signed up and become legit?  What were our barriers?  What do we TRULY desire in a program?  We spoke, we shared, we were HEARD.

A few months later I, along with a select few aspiring midwives, were invited to participate in a study group that worked with our work schedules, our budgets, our interests.  We accepted.

Now we have a group of approximately 10 women- WOC and Low-income folks getting together once a month for a few days to learn collectively, share food, space, energy, healing, and love- SUPPORT- to complete a study that for many people out there, they must endure in isolation.  We refuse to continue that model of individualism, it is not sustainable.

We are able to keep our jobs, support our families and ourselves.  We are surrounded by conscious, politically and spiritually aware and aligned folks.  We've dived in head first with our hearts incredibly open, and so far so good.

We are aiming at being done in 2 years through National College of Midwifery.  If you'd like to donate to my Midwifery School Fund, please let me know, I'm willing to exchange for teaching workshops and holding informative talks on anything you see on my blog or on my FB page.

I need $5,000 to enroll officially.  Here is my paypal info: chuladoula at

Thank you for taking the time to read. My midwifery program was made possible by the midwives at