Sunday, July 1, 2012

The First Birth Activist Retreat at The Farm

I feel very privileged to have been a part of the First Birth Activist Retreat at The Farm. It was such an awesome experience that I am still having trouble wrapping my brain around everything.

Here is a quick recap by Rosemary Senjem -

"The First Birth Activists Retreat was held June 22-24, 2012 in Summertown, Tennessee at The Farm. More than 75 were in attendance.

The Birth Activists Retreat was amazingly productive and members and representatives of Birth Network National, BOLD, CAPPA, ACNM, MANA, DONA, Where's My Midwife, Improving Birth were there. The people are uniting and organizing to Tell the Truth about Birth!
Who else was there? Pregnant Moms, Moms with babes in arms, Dads with video cameras, university researchers + grad students, doulas, childbirth educators, midwives of all stripes and work locations, massage & CranioSacral therapists, labor and delivery nurses, legal representatives from L.A.B.O.R., political activists and experienced lobbyists, and a young fellow named Bo who is going to organize his boy scout troupe to raise money to Tell the Truth about Birth.
What did we accomplish? This very diverse group came together and did the hard work to find common ground around messaging and coordinated actions. We want everyone to have equal access to evidence-based maternity care. It is a human right.
Our initial focus is on rallies on Labor Day (and the week that follows), actions during National Midwifery one month later, and informing people for Election Day. We want to make it easier for everyone to Tell the Truth about Birth!"

First of all - I will tell you what the retreat was not. It was not a bunch of women sitting around complaining about our maternity system. Instead we started Saturday morning with success stories. Women told about how they lit a fire in their community and got things done! Women are demanding evidence based care and it is time for hosptials, health care providers, and insurance companies to listen to their consumers!

We broke into 6 groups - each group focused on one piece of the bigger picture of starting a birth revolution. There was a group that focused on the politics and political action that will be taken, a group that focused on education, one on how the many different groups (ICAN, women’s rights groups, holistic moms network, etc) can work together, and more. I felt called to the Public Action group. So in our group we brainstormed and eventually set up a timetable of ways we will engage the public.

I could seriously write a book about what all happened this weekend and what I took home from it.

· In several areas midwifes have lost privileges at hospitals. When the consumers came together to share their concerns and question why the change - the consumers prevailed!!! For more info on this check out the Where's My Midwife? page.

· Normalize the midwife. When someone is pregnant instead of asking who their doctor is - ask who their midwife is.

· Political -

oWe need to contact our state representatives and introduce ourselves. When we have a concern or a suggestion, we need to let them know. They are there for us.

oWe can work to get birth and other women's issues on local planks and platforms. *This to me was such a great idea!

· I got some great ideas for fundraising and engaging more and more people in ICAN and other groups that I work with.

· My bottom line - we can make a difference. People care about the state of maternity care in the US. The weekend allowed for many people from different agencies and walks of life to come together and work towards a common goal. It is happening.

Being in the company of so many strong, intelligent leaders was a powerful experience. It was a very healing weekend for me personally. I thought back often to the weakness and the fear that I felt after I had Fisher. I knew our system was so, so flawed - but I felt powerless and alone in those feelings. This weekend at The Farm allowed me to realize that I am not powerless or alone. On the last day of the retreat one of the organizers spur of the moment asked willing people to go on camera and say "I am a birth activist because...." My initial reaction was that I would not partcipate. I mean, I am not a birth activist. I don't work in the birth profession. No one cares to hear "my story". After I realized how I was avoiding my real thoughts and feelings I took a few minutes and walked away and let the emotions and feelings wash over me. Shaking and scared I walked in front of the camera and said

"I am a birth activist because my son was injured at birth. I refuse to let any other woman or child go through the traumatic journey we have been through the last three years."

And then I walked away from the camera feeling more at peace than I have since Fisher was born. 

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this! Love your healing, love being an activist with you!