Give it up on #GivingTuesday for Chicago Volunteer Doulas

And I don’t just mean applause! Will you please join me in making a donation today?

Rachel and I aren’t just running businesses and making a living as doulas who happen to live in Chicago, we also take our obligation of service to Chicago’s communities of pregnant, laboring and postpartum people and families very seriously. One of the ways we do this is through our support of the organization Chicago Volunteer Doulas (CVD).

I have been personally involved at CVD as one of the volunteer doulas since 2008 before the organization even had 501c3 status (as an official non-profit). I also serve on the board of directors, most recently as co-chair. I have become more and more involved in supporting CVD over the years because I see that there are multitudes of pregnant people who are left in the gaps between those served by community based doula programs and those who can afford the fees for private doulas.

These are the people who would otherwise not have doulas. This is where CVD comes in. CVD provides on call doulas to four different hospital midwifery programs in Chicago as well as offering traditional model private volunteer doulas to families with incomes under $50,000 per year. Until community based doula programs have expanded to meet the needs of unserved populations, and/or government funding and insurance reimbursement for private doulas is common place, volunteer organizations like Chicago Volunteer Doulas are essential part of changing birth culture. And so is our support.

I have volunteered at community based doula programs such as HealthConnect One, and also continue to work privately. I believe adamantly however, that *any* pregnant people or families who want a doula, need and deserve access to doulas.

One way that my co-blogger, Rachel, supports Chicago Volunteer Doulas in changing birth culture is through consistently offering a scholarship position in each of her DONA International doula trainings for a woman of color who is also a CVD volunteer. This is also, in my humble opinion, one of the ways Rachel is awesome, but I digress.

CVD is just a small part of changing birth culture, but for many Chicago parents, it has been an essential resource. Will you join us this Giving Tuesday and give what you can to Chicago Volunteer Doulas? Then please spread the word to others!

Thanks, friend!

Who Is ChicagoDoula?

So Amy is trying to get me to blog. I have to say, I have never considered this and am not so sure how good I’ll be at this. I’m only here because she has the smarts and the drive to get us both here. Maybe I can start by giving you the back story. For the past 15 years, I’ve practiced as a childbirth educator, doula, doula trainer and occasional midwife’s assistant. I’ve used the web since the beginning and have always used the screen name identity “ChicagoDoula.” But as the web developed, I remained a very basic user – email, the occasional instant message, web-browsing.

I always thought I should make more of it. I even took a website design class. I created a draft version of a very pretty website. And it sat there on my computer for years. I had no idea how to get it published. Two years ago I finally figured out that I needed to purchase a domain name. So I did. But that sat there too. When Facebook came along, I figured it out to some degree, though I only have personal pages – no business page.

Then along came Amy, a new doula on the block, with some really neat ideas. She hoped to develop a website and call it ChicagoDoula.net. I agreed to this because after all, though I’d been using the name for years, I did not yet have a website and thought I would never get around to it. Amy began building the site and after a time we realized it was something we could work on together. We began to think of ChicagoDoula as a concept rather than a specific person and several months later, here we are.

Who is ChicagoDoula? She is a little bit of everything, just like the city she serves. She is an activist, a doula, a mother, a midwife (of babies or ideas or communities), a mentor and a student. She is experienced and wise, yet she is fresh and enthusiastic and full of new ideas. She is knowledgeable about a variety of childbirth preparation techniques and is comfortable working with them. She believes that life is precious and she also believes in a woman’s right to make a full range of decisions about her reproductive health care – whether that means choosing to terminate a pregnancy, choosing an epidural for labor, or choosing a homebirth with an underground midwife. She strives to help women understand the full implications of their choices and help them find their innate power, so their choices are not driven by fear. She understands that there is no single right answer for any given situation. She is willing to support women in whatever choice is right for them.

ChicagoDoula loves her city and the people in it. She joyfully serves families from all walks of life. She is ever-hopeful with a strong vein of cynical, anti-racist, queer-friendly, working on recognizing her privileges as well as her own internalized oppression, challenging others and herself to see and understand things differently. When faced with obstacles, she looks for creative solutions rather than struggling to achieve particular outcomes.

She envisions a world where all women get the support they need across the spectrum of pregnancy, labor, birth and parenting – a world where every woman in every community has access to the information and support she wants and needs so that she can be affirmed in her choices.

She envisions a world where women are respected, safe, honored and empowered.

In short, ChicagoDoula is many things. We invite you to get to know her, us, as we continue posting here and continue building our websites.

Changes

I have embarked on the process of re-working this website and blog together with fellow doula and activist Rachel Dolan Wickersham, the original ChicagoDoula (at AOL dot com). Please have patience with me/us as the posts are fewer and further between while we develop ChicagoDoula into a resource we are both excited about and think you’ll like!

In the meantime, I will continue to post info about Birthing From Within classes at this site – including one currently in the works for late September/early October. Let me know if you’re interested!

Homebirth Safety Act Update – And Pictures!

Despite a setback earlier this month, and what this article might lead you to believe, Rep. Julie Hamos and the co-sponsors of the Illinois’ Home Birth Safety Act, HB 226, are still working on getting the bill passed this session. They need all the help we can give them to turn legislators’ “no’s” into “yes’s”.

If you live in Illinois, please let your legislators know that you support HB 226 and women’s right to give birth where we choose. You can go here to find out who your state representative and senator are and get their phone numbers and mailing addresses. For tips and talking points you can refer to info here and here.  This bill needs ALL the support we can give it, so please understand – I am asking YOU to join me and do this!

As an incentive, I finally finished going through my pictures from the road trip I took with my kids to lobby for the bill earlier this month. (Thanks to Kathleen, for helping me figure out how to post them). The photos aren’t going to win any awards (except maybe one that Elijah took). But they tell the story of the day, so have a look at them and then support the effort and call and write your legislators!