As Neta said, my name is Elizabeth Perez. And if I were to use one word to describe myself right now, I would say I am tired. But I'm looking forward to what this conversation will be.
Hi, my name is Melanie Hoff. I have a tightness in my chest [laughs]. I'm grateful that I got sick on the long weekend of Code Societies. I think that was on purpose. I'm, yeah, really excited to be almost nearing the end of the third session of Code Societies and really excited for the showcase. I keep thinking about it.
I think that's gonna be you to answer that one.
Um, I've been thinking a lot about sex as it relates to reproduction. And as soon as I saw Elizabeth application as a birth worker, I knew I wanted to talk to you. I think that, um yeah. Birthing is so powerful and the industry around it is often so horrible [laughs]. And that doulas are like coming in to that, um really dark space and like finding light in it again and, um taking what was always there's to begin with back. It's really inspiring to me and yeah, I just wanted to talk to someone who'd really been there.
Yeah. Um, I mean, I think when I [clears throat]—it's complicated, because, you know, often when I share that I am a doula, or I do you know, birth work there's—I feel kind of like a celebrity or famous in many ways, and I'm just like, 'please no cameras,' like leave me alone! Partly because, um, the work I do is not glamorous, um. The work I do is necessary and it doesn't necessarily mean that I want to do it, but I know that it needs to be done, um. So I have a lot of conflicting feelings about it, um. Mostly my favorite part is when I meet new families that are excited about what's happening, um, to their bodies, um but are also like, terrified, like legit terrified of what this means to their lives.
And so I come in there to walk them through it. Um. And it just is a really sensitive, but creative space to be because a lot of—in a lot of ways I can like guide that ship, you know? Um [...] yeah. And so now a lot of, kind of where I'm transitioning into more is, um, as a childbirth educator, so I teach. I teach in Greenpoint, um and then here and there I teach at a studio in Soho. Um, not often, um but I am teaching once a month, like a really long class in Greenpoint, and then two or three workshops throughout the month at that same place in Greenpoint, and just last night, I taught a breastfeeding and newborn care workshop. And, you know, I asked one of the questions I asked her when people introduce themselves as if they know if they were breastfed, and if they were, if they were breastfed, if they know for how long and for a lot of people, they either weren't breastfed, or they were breastfed, but they don't know for how long. And then, you know, when I close the class, and after we've talked about everything I say, 'okay, now if your parent was—is alive is alive still, and you can ask them for how long you were breastfed, or if you were breastfed, now that you have this information, it's probably a good idea.' Because in many ways to do something like breastfeed, um or provide milk for your baby—human milk for your baby is really like it's a counterculture thing to do. Because it's not what we are told to do, in many ways, it's in the way it's really hard to do especially if you never seen someone do it or know of people in your family who are doing it, but it freaks people the fuck out to think that this is another thing that they have to do. And like, because it's a baby, a baby has to eat, and like you have to give baby the best. [Laughter] And just make sure that they are alive, um so I have to be like, really sensitive to that. And um, you know, yeah, it's a real—it's a really vulnerable time. But I like it. I like that—I like the teaching a lot.
I think that's part of what makes me so interested in it that you're teaching people such like sacred information that they should sort of already—like a society should be teaching them this, not like a boutique in Greenpoint [laughs] um, and that when, but but that you are teaching them this and then they're learning these things about their own bodies and their own families is like, just so valuable, so beautiful. Uh, I think I get a, like a very shimmer of that feeling when I teach people to think and have different kinds of relationships with the devices that they're using all the time, with the computation that surrounds their life. And I just am like, it just feels so good to teach people a way of refiguring their relationship to something that is so omnipresent that they often feel like they have no control over.
And that's exact—like child birth. [Laughs]
Yeah. [Laughs] and um, yeah, I think that, yeah guess it's some somewhat similar in that um people feel like they don't have control over the computation that designs their life, and that is by design. And people don't know, their own bodies and their own maternal health and family Health for the similar reason by design that that knowledge was like sequestered and taken by similar groups of people—
to the point where the World Health Organization, which is like a huge governing body that many nations should be listening to and implementing the protocols and policies that they recommend, um have these, I guess you can call them, um, yeah, recommendations to protect breastfeeding. And like this is like, recent like within the last anywhere from like, the last five to 20 years, every every so often. There's like new things and so, one of them being like in a hospital plain and simple, like you cannot give out formula packets, but hospitals are doing that, they're sending formula, shipping it to people's homes and how do they know that this person's pregnant? Insurance. And so it's all a fucking business, right? Um. I just want to go back to when you're saying that, like our society should be teaching that, I—I agree in this is probably why I get so pissed off being a doula because like, I don't really want to be a doula, like it's a bandaid like it shouldn't be like your best friend should know what the fuck's going on and how to be like there for you in that moment.
Families, like so many people in this city don't have anyone [...] Or just battle better hospital practices. It sucks that there's this idea of like for me to I was I was talking to people this weekend. So on top of teaching, I was interviewing for another client too. And I was like, honestly—and I was like really frank. Like, this is who I am. Like, that's like one of the benefits of working for myself in this particular field is that I don't have to hide what I think and like, if you hire me, you're hiring me because of how I think. And in many ways, it was like, you know, being a doula is, um, I'm in the field of harm reduction, and to ensure, again, that you come out of this as least traumatized as possible, and that we can view the day that your child is born as an actual birthday, the day that you give birth to your child as your birthing day, and that it's like joyful and not like, I just don't know what to—you know, it's like, it's really, it's really intense for a lot of people I got it, you know, either through because of their bodies doing this or because of they don't trust their care provider. Or they don't trust the hospital system. Um and that's where we're going to have our babies in, right? Um yeah, it makes me really sad because I feel like I have to carry this weight on me and I'm like, I don't want to do that. I want to like—I want to be able to start living my life and be able to attend births because I want them not because it's my occupation. And that's not to say that I don't like my clients I'm getting to choose them, but I do feel this pressure of like having to continue this work because there's only such a small percentage of people that are actually using birth doulas in their life or even postpartum doula work—so many times I come once they've had their baby and I might have not been their birth doula and it is like crisis management like, 'crisis averted, crisis averted,' or like, you know, maybe we should call a doctor or maybe this baby should see a pediatrician. You know? Um. It's kind of wild sometimes where I'm just like, we don't have anyone, a lot of people don't have people. And that's like, the saddest part of it that, you know, my doula partner is a fantastic human being and she she always says this, she's like it feels like a really alone, isolating experience, but imagine if there was a light bulb that goes off on every apartment or building for two, three in the morning when someone's like, in the throes of nursing the first two weeks of a baby's life and you just don't know what's going on, and you'd have to change this baby's diaper. That's a lot of light bulbs that are on, but it feels like no one's there with you, you know, so. And because—I think part of me being so exhausted is because I'm giving so much, I'm giving so much of my confidence to someone else. Because there's this there's just not any there's just not any confidence or assurance that this is the right decision. Like this is a good decision. There's a lot of fear in having a baby for many reasons and they're valid. Absolutely. But it's not like people are not going to not have babies, people are going to have babies. And it's something that I think about because I have a three year old, um. The type of world that we're in right now and the type of world we're going to have. And so I often share with them—I was like, well, you decided to keep this pregnancy and go through with it and have this baby and you're making such a big investment by being in this class and hiring a doula or whatever, whatever it is that you think that you need to do to be prepared that the goal is, the goal is always to make a wonderful, compassionate, creative, kind, centered child, so that my son can have that homie to play with [laughter], because why else would we be doing this? Like, we want good people to be part of this, you know, so that makes them laugh and kind of reminds them 'okay, oh-kay, like that's, that's gonna be fun. That's gonna be hard, but it's gonna be fun,' you know? Sometimes taking the mind off of like, the immediacy of it because it's such a short time. And it's literally right there. But once the baby's here, that's forever. I want to focus on that more.
Mhm. Hm. A lot of things that you said made me think of things—I was thinking about like, how alone you were saying the women feel or the birth—birth people, who are pregnant—
you can say birthing people—
birthing people feel when—and that reminds me that there's like some theories of gender or theories of origin of patriarchy is that because women were carrying the babies and then thus had like a lot of inherent power that is impossible to take or argue otherwise, that they are—play a very big role in bringing new people into the world. Um, that that, that patriarchy was invented just to try to take that power away and that—that we can see that very in like the most clear ways and the ways that people are not educated and don't feel supported in their pregnancy and that they feel like this is like a almost something like, 'I have a disease' or something because there's just such a lack of information and then the, the processes that that birthing people go through when they are in labor, when they are giving birth are so cold and so distant from any—from like, the power that they are harnessing by growing another person. That's just so, just so, um, there's just so much conflict there so much tension in the, in the contrast of like what you're doing and the the platforms available to support you, yeah.
And it's like literally the beginning.
That is the true genesis.
Every single time no matter how many children you have, each time is a new time. And [... ]another thing I always say is like, Melanie, if your mom is sad, over you when you were a child, especially if your mom was sad, how did you feel? If you saw her anything, but smiling? Or you, Neta. Y'all were fucked up?
I'm like, 'oh shit, something's going on with my mama,' you know? And so I think a lot of my decision to go into this work was, you know, being a child of a Black immigrant woman, four daughters, and I love my dad—not the best partner, you know—not necessarily the best dad either, but he's like a nice guy? I guess. It's complicated. But my mom was sad as fuck, and like, as someone who also experienced postpartum anxiety and depression, because I think it always gets conflated to depression, like 'oh, there she goes, like all sad.' And shit's like no like, your mind's constantly going through the motions like on the cellular chemical level, what your body is doing after you give birth to a child, it's literally trying to achieve a state of homeostasis, it's trying to rebalance itself, it's trying to like, go back to some sense of normalcy. And when we don't have good care, when we don't have good support, when we are not eating well, when we don't feel safe. There's no homeostasis ever going to be achieved. And there's no time period for that. And personally, having experienced both of those—and there's a ton—we call them perinatal mood disorders. So anything that can happen during the period of, whether it's you know, before pregnancy and after, and I definitely know that I had prenatal anxiety as well. I wasn't very fucking nervous, of course having a kid but, and I wanted my kid—it doesn't mean that I didn't want my kid. But I was like, 'I don't know what's going on,' which is why I think I'm pretty good at this because I know exactly what the feeling is. There's just this rush to like, be yourself again. And be yourself again, in terms of how you feel and how you look and how you live and how your home looks, right? So like all these new toys are like, are catered really to an adult's experience, it was like a weird thing that I've been [laughter] seeing. Yeah, those are some of the things that I'm thinking about in terms of how scared we are to deal with a broken person after they give birth. Um, and how we are quick to say, 'but you have your baby, and the baby's healthy. That's all that matters,' or 'It's going to be okay.' And those are some of the most damaging things that you can say to someone that literally doesn't have any clue as to what's going on because every minute, every day feels like a forever. And so that's like, you know, and then the other part of it too is that who gets the [...] either the space or resources to address those things. Definitely wasn't me, I still didn't even [--] I mean, even being in this field, I didn't I didn't know where to seek help, my partner didn't necessarily know how to help me and that's not his fault, you know, cause he was going through his own shit, um. And we're, you know, now we much and that's also something that I like have like low key guilt about because I'm like, 'oh, but he also had, he's also recovering. Like he's still recovering.' It's just like very little support in the truest of sense, and that I wonder if there were other models of care when people initiate families, like what our world could look like. And it's so hard to think about, because everything else feels really hard to kind of think about and figure out. Um, I don't know it's a lot. It's a lot and part of like, maybe why I'm sounding like I'm like going through all these things is because like, I'm still in it. I'm not [--] you know, I was working, I was doing community doula work in Brooklyn, um, most of 2018, some of early 2019, um with an organization in Brooklyn, like I said, in Brooklyn, and um, the best parts obviously were that I was in my community and or that my clients were other women of color or Black. I also had some undocumented clients, um, but what was frustrating was that, the place of which hired me to do this work because they would pay me and then I would provide the services for free. It's like like, I'm like a savior. Like I'm supposed to like go above and beyond to make sure that this person again, it—doesn't get scarred from this and I'm like 'that's a lot of pressure, like I'm still in the hood y'all, like I'm still [claps] trying to pay this rent!' Like I cannot undo the systems, like I'm not the system, you know? And so when, you know there were instances where like, like again and many other doulas in the program or just people who do community doula work specifically know that like, there's like a weird also this exchange of like money and like, like I have a firm belief of like if you want to give something to someone for free, absolutely. But what happens with doula work often is that because we feel, um [--] like let's say you are pregnant and uh, you couldn't afford—or where we had agreed for whatever reason that I would be your doula for free. There are many people that operate under this like 'oh my god, thank you Melanie, thank you so much for allowing me to be there for you.' And then it creates this like weird power dynamic or like, like a, maybe I'm going to say like an exhaustion of your experience or like a centering of like me experiencing your experience. It's like this weird stuff going on. So it's very much it's a it's like a paternalising, of pregnant people and their experiences like 'poor you,' victimizing you and like, you could have nothing and I'm not going to look at you like you're a victim, like you—I'm going to help you figure out what you need. But, we're going to make advocates out of each other. And I don't ever want to say that I'm an advocate for someone, like that's like a weird thing for me to like, take on. I feel very uncomfortable when people were like, 'I want somebody to advocate for me.' I don't know about that one! I think we all should kinda advocate for ourselves, because we all actually can, right? But what happens is that maybe this person's entire life they either weren't listened to, or were shunned from, like speaking up for themselves. So I totally get that. But what happens in this type of work because especially because it's so feminized, right, that women, you do things for free, because it's for someone else's children, and it's care work in that way. And I'm like, 'no, you're going to pay me,' like, I need to—I have childcare, like I—this metrocard costs $127 and helps me get everywhere I need to go. There needs to be some sort of exchange. And even back then when we talk about the granny midwives in the South, like that was her job, but like either the husband built something for her or gave her some food, like there was an exchange and so I love the word exchange. I think that the word exchange validates my experience. I think the word exchange validates your experience. And it makes like—like equity is possible with exchange, I feel. And if it there isn't a place of exchange that we cannot expect something back. And so oftentimes that's the difference to that, if somebody were to do or support someone for free, then there's this weird thing that happens where like, if you were not to call them when you go into labor, that doula look can get upset, and I'm like, 'they didn't want you there. They didn't need you there.' They got taken care of and another completely way. That's the language, um, sits weird. It's like I'm kind of like once they've been one step out sometimes with community doula work. And I just can't, I can't feel like I can take care of everyone else when I'm trying to take care of myself. And that's hard. And yeah, I'm upset about it, you know, but [breathes] [...] I said a lot.
Yeah, I'm just thinking that—reminding of Sylvia Federici's and what she says about how, um, women or birth givers of all kinds are um, made to feel like their gift to humanity is this like selfless, caretaking motherhood that they do out of like their calling, is like their true calling.
Hell no! [Laughs]
So then you can't possibly like pay me for that because it's just like how I am and how I am as this like person whose true call to give birth and be a caretaker just like, naturally provides all this value for you and like a literal workforce.
You know what's weird? You just have to be a decent human being. [Cross talk] like all of this is just being a decent human being and the only thing that—like, like me being a mother, like what's joyful about that for me is that there—I do feel like when I see my son or I touch my son like there's like I feel like electrified again I get the good hormones, right? But I do believe we can cultivate the good hormones amongst each other. And so when we like view, when we view women for example as the only—like women, people who identify as women—as the only possible caregiver...that's where we fucked up.
Because um, perhaps maybe how we should be seen is like, okay, we just know the direction but maybe you have the vehicle, you know, or maybe you know, a different path, you know? Yeah I have lots of thoughts like and like the you know, the saying "it takes a village," I also have complicated thoughts about that because it's like, it's used in such a like capitalist way in many ways. Like, I have to outsource my village, like I have to find—I have to pay literally a second rent for me to know that my son is safe and taken care of, you know, so like this morning when I went to his class, I was just so happy because the lead teacher she's like singing to them. She's singing the like opening circle and I was like, "oh my god, her voice sounds so nice. Wow, Silo gets to be sang to," but I'm like, I'm paying a lot of money for some—for this? Like. It was still a lot to like process in the moment. But it's like one of the best ones in our neighborhood, right? And like me knowing how everything works like I need to give my son the best of the best. And that's so much pressure. So much pressure. And so New York City is trying to do more than other places when it comes to like affordable childcare with 3-K which is basically children, depending on the year if you're between two and three years old. There's 3-K, so it's like a preschool, but for little, little babies, and then universal pre-K, UPK, for children between three and four. And then there's also complicated thoughts on that because some parents think that's too soon to enroll their children in a system because there's a lot of ideas of everything coming first, like with play, play-based, but how can you like, how can a parent stay home and play with their kid when there's so much else that they have to do and figure out, you know? I have thoughts, I have thoughts and feeling, um. And part of like me, like, [--] so prior to doing this, I, you know, I had worked in a couple different nonprofits, doing, you know, oral history work, youth engagement, education programming. And while all of that was like, cool, it wasn't like satisfying to my soul and I honestly don't know there's something that's ever going to be satisfying to my soul, which makes me upset cause I'm like, "Elizabeth you gotta find something." I think there's things that I'm curious about things that I can be really good at like I really believe that I'm really good at my job as a birth doula and and childbirth educator, like I can own that, I rock that. But do I wanna do that forever? No, because it's exhausting. And so venturing into this world of technology and interactive media and all of that it's kind of like a 360 view. But it feels so different and it feels like a complete, like just a completely different world. Like there's it's only that it feels very specific. Like the tools are specific, the people are specific. The words are specific. How there's—the communication is specific, and I'm trying to see how I fit in all of that or how I can make it fit for me. And so it's like NYU's program [New York University, Interactive Telecommunications]. It's like, you know, it's two years and I'm like, "that's only two years." Like, I feel like I need like 10 years, like I need time to catch up and understand what this is. I was like mentioning this to Neta, or you too, it's like, I want it. Like I thought I would have time to like research these artists and like, spend time on the terminal and I'm just like, you know, um, like I don't have the time. But I'm wondering [--] another thing that makes me upset is always like, you know, when you become a parent, it's like, well, you just got to give up something and I won't mention who said this to me because maybe they might hear this someday, but this person was pretty much like you know, for me, what I had to do was give up sleep. I'm like, "I need to go to sleep. I need to go to sleep." Because they were like it was either art, their kid or work and I'm just like, ugh, yeah you know, like, I yeah, you know, I just can't, you know?
I can't give up sleep, ever.
Right? That is a terrible thing to suggest. Yes. Like, that's like a requirement for a long health, you know. That's another reason why birth doula work is so taxing because you don't sleep, right? Like, if you were pregnant, you're my client you'd call me or text me at like, in the evening and say, "hey, I think something's starting," which is usually how my clients tell me and I'm like, "okay, what's going on?" You know, walk them through, like just what's—let's make a plan for the night. But then I don't sleep, because I'm expecting them to call me. And they might not call me till seven or eight in the morning but I lost a night asleep because I'm so anxious about them either laboring home alone or being called to go to their house or them calling me telling me, "hey, we're on our way to the hospital. Can you meet us there?" And then, you know, so It's a lot of like, I'm like, the way that I think about it is like I'm fucking up my circadian rhythm purpose. [Laughs] I don't know how good I feel about this. And a lot of that like it's it's exciting because I get to choose the clients I work with like my doula might be my doula partner we see that was like the same delivery. Like if we're sitting down we were interviewing, same when you're interviewing us to see if we're your doula team, we're also interviewing you. Because the moment that you call us, I'm leaving my life, I'm leaving my life. I'm leaving my kid with his dad or I'm leaving—I don't—I don't know where he's going to be. And I don't know when I'm going to be back. And so this has to be like a true partnership. This is has to be a commitment that after this baby's born, like we're going to like each other, and we're going to be friends, because this is this is a real deal. This is not just any kind of relationship. And I think a lot of people like that. I think a lot of people when they're in the moment of bringing a baby into this world. Safety and security is like priority in many ways in their home, their food, their relationships, their job, their happiness. And then just I wonder if like, if we're more clear about these things, maybe before we think we want to bring a child into this world, or create that type of family, they're like, there those are good conversations and points to, to have either if you're choosing to do it alone, because there are people who are single parenting, or especially if choosing to do it someone else, you know, which probably is, I'm not going to say one is harder than the other because their [...] life is hard [laughter] there's no other way to put it but, yeah [sighs]
There are so few relationships like that, where, you know, we you're like entering into this kind of, like, long term spiritual exchange where that's extremely vulnerable and a lot of work. What else is like that?
I don't know. I think about that all the time because [..] I don't know, it's like serious work like, I feel really fortunate to know that for many people like I was present for the birth of their child like we're always going to have that and that's exciting to me. And I like that's how I frame it like I was there, I would—you invited me, we did this together. We all worked in, you know, worked for this very important mission. Like I say the bare minimum is to—the bare minimum—is that the both of you are alive. That's the fucking bare minimum. Where we should be reaching is like the fucking stars, like you were so happy, like this was like it maybe even orgasmic right? Like that is possible. But again, we're so far from understanding this experience that when people hear even that term, like an orgasmic birth, which is like a thing. They're just like, "[scoffs] that is not for me," I'm like, "okay... Why not?" Let's do that, you know? Um yeah.
That you bring that up reminds me that I've recently been realizing that orgasming at all is not something that everyone experiences—
That it's something like in a survey done of, women in it or vagina havers in France and America, like 18 to 20 percent have never had an orgasm, or once in their life, it's like once to never. And then there's a much larger percentage that can only have it by themselves, masturbating and then a smaller percentage that can have it reliably with another person.
That’s a rough life.
Yeah. [Laughter] And I'm just thinking of like, all of the—all of the circumstances of the like patterns in social norms and literacy around our own bodies and my pleasure that led to us like led to many people thinking that the theme that quote unquote "female orgasm" is a mystery and it's like hard to achieve is the same system that is bringing people, that is bringing people in to give birth to other people. And like they don't you don't— like the clit, the full anatomy of the clit wasn't even discovered till the 90s and you're going to expect people to have like healthy and like, births that feel good?
In childbirth education class, and this is since childbirth education. So I, uh, trained as a childbirth educator by with this organization called Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York. Historically childbirth education were men, Lamaze is one. There were like different theories of child birth education, but they were always men. So the "[breathes] heehee hoo ha" like that was a man that like a man with a penis. Yeah, that's how a person with a uterus should give birth or like, go through labor. And so this organization is not like that it was founded by women and, but you know now how we view it's like it's it's definitely it's, it's family centered, a family centered experience with like evidence based medicines and like, also like lived experience [cross talk] And so it's a two year program. But it takes a lot of us longer. So like, I'm on my fourth year, right.? [Laughs] You know, life. But lots of the childbirth, other childbirth classes, like the four day week—four day weekends that you just take a class for four days, and then you can teach people about childbirth and I'm just like, that's not enough, even in my four years, I'm like, oh man, like even last night. I'm like, okay, I gotta go back and see what the latest evidence on delayed cord clamping, for example, is, right? Because like I need to stay up to date. And I need to know how hospitals are implementing this because it's constantly changing. But how I—how we start cost is always like on the physiology and anatomy of labor and birth. And I have these diagrams of a baby in utero. And just explaining what different parts are. And it's always like some people miss the fact that the cervix is not just one separate thing. It's attached—it's part of the uterus is just that part of the uterus, and saying that the uterus is a muscle, and that it requires oxygen, and you need to be hydrated and fed during labor is like, that's when people's brains are like, 'oh, so it's like, not real that we shouldn't eat during labor.' And I'm like, "exactly!"
Who told people that they should have—
Hospitals do that.
Hospitals don't let laboring people eat. Really antiquated protocols and policies implemented in the 50s, by men, of course that saying that if you eat—if women eat during labor, the risk of aspiration should they be put under general anesthesia is like, huge.
[Breathes] So it's—it's like, 'women shouldn't eat so that we can like give them more drugs?' [Cross talk] in case something, in case like we mess up. [Cross talk] it's like and they have to be put under—
It's more stuff to that, but the point is that they don't want to be inconvenienced or if should something happen. So that is how hospitals and obstetricians work is on much more preventative, like let's do something preemptively. So that in case anything were to happen, like we're good, but like that's not—
Right, right. I was—
Because what you said, like you're not diseased, you're not sick. Yeah. I always joke with with people, I'm like, "are you sick?" No, you just pregnant! You're just having a baby. And when I frame it like that, it's like, 'oh, okay,' like I remember one time I was with a client who was fucking terrified. She was terrified of having a baby. And I was her doula. And when I showed up at the hospital, we were a little earlier and she was a little anxious and they're like, Okay, well, we can't admit you yet because you're not in active labor. So I was like, okay, that means we get to work. So I'm like walking with her throughout the hospital floors. And she's like, feeling it. She's having her contractions. And I was like, "Hey, remember, you didn't think you can do this?" And she was like, 'yeah,' "I'm like, look down at your feet. You're walking and you're having contractions at the same time." 'Oh,' it was like such a moment of like, affirmation for this person. And like they labored so fucking well. Like little things like that. I'm like, you don't need to be in a wheelchair, you can walk—you should stand actually, it feels better if you stand, like a being on the bed is not fun. But it's just a disconnect. It's just a huge disconnect even in the hospitals, it's treated as a disconnect as a pathology. And so there's lots of unlearning, that needs to be done both in terms of the actual science, but also in the treatment, you know?
And the why the treatment, like treatments for what reason? Yeah, like it's preventative, as you said, or to make you have like a good experience and have you and your baby be healthy. It's like, that's rarely seems like the reason choices are made in the hospital—
really the reason is for liability and litigation—
liability, litigation. efficiency. Planned—like predictability—
Profit [laughs] [cross talk]. Yeah, I was learning about those cuts that used to be common practice in labor. [Inaudible] [cross talk] yeah, so that doctors would cut the vagina like deeply before the baby passed through. Because often when the baby passed through, they were like it would cause a tear. So doctors decided, 'oh, well, we'll just cut it first.'
[Cross talk] "Cause it's going to tear anyway,"
[Laughs] and then that ended up have been much more damaging than a natural tear would have been. And I'm just like, "this, this is genital cutting," like this is this is obscene. Yeah, this is abuse. Yeah.
And without telling people—like the lines between informed consent, and like informed re—like, those aren't even things like, just like, 'oh, I'm just going to do this here.' And not like, 'hey, this is what's happening. And this is what I think might be a good idea. Do you want to talk about it?' Because a lot of these things are not emergencies. Our bodies and our babies do a really good job of telling us they're like, something's off. And we have some tools and technologies to like see that. But we don't use it like that. were like, all right, well, let's just get this done and over with.
Yeah. [Breathes] I like that you said that you always ask people in your class like, 'do you know how you were breastfed?' And—
do you know if you were breastfed? [Cross talk] and if so, how long?
Yeah, yeah. So that's like a really interesting question or vulnerable question. And I'd be really curious to hear more of the answers. And now I want to ask my friends that [laughs]. And um, yeah, and I guess I also wonder if um, people who identify as women would know that answer more than people who identify as men. Because just like, as—
how does that information get passed on?
Yeah. And I just feel like mothers would tell their daughters more and daughters would remember more because they know they're going to like they might be going through this or they expected to maybe go to through this new life, whereas people who grow up being coded as boys are just like, 'oh, that's just not. I don't need to retain that.'
It's so fucked up. And I wish we had better language and tools to [--] because that, for me as an educator in this in that field, right where what we're talking about is health. Like the birthing persons health, the baby's health, they were talking about health, like, that's gold, you know, and what you do when you provide a baby with milk that comes from your body, you're giving them human milk. That milk is literally designed for that child every time a baby creates a fantastic seal around breast tissue and the nipple, their backwash is read by that montgomery glands that are like pimple like around the areola, reads it your body's like [makes computer beeping noise] and then sends milk out perfectly designed for that baby, especially like if the baby's sick, and so this is not a breast is best, or you gotta do what you gotta do. This is like it is a right to provide human milk to a human child. But [...] we've, we've [clears throat] lost so many generations of people being nursed that to think of that is like, a big deal. When imagine if it was just like, oh, yeah, they're just breastfeeding there. You know, they're just like nursing a baby. Just the baby's just eating, the bay's bonding. They're feeling secure. We're protecting this person from breast cancer in the long run. Like we're ensuring optimal breast health. [...] You know, what blew my mind. My doula partner was my doula. And, you know, I never really like connected with my breasts prior to finding out that I was pregnant. In fact, that's how I knew that I was pregnant because my nipples felt crazy, like they probably could cut through that wall. [Laughter] like you were so intense, it was like, what the— I looked at my man, I was like you need to go get a pregnancy test because something ain't right here, you know? There was just too much. Um, so from that moment on, that begins this process of a pretty of process of—it's really beautiful the word, it's lactogenesis, the beginning—the beginning of lactation, like your body does different, there's different stages of it. Can you tell I like this? Um. But she was like, yeah, you know, if you don't if you don't lactate, that's your [--] and I guess for some people they might not like this language, but for me it was helpful because I always had smaller breasts and I kind of got picked on it by my family for it but she was like they were immature breasts but now that you're nursing their mature breasts and think of the wisdom that you're giving to your baby, and I was like, "oh, that's so sweet!" But I could see how somebody else would have been like, 'oh, excuse me? Like what are you talking about? They're just breasts, you know? And that's the other part too that, you know, there's such disconnect that people have with their bodies and it gets even more complicated when we're supporting queer families because this system is like, 'I don't even know what to do with you period, much less if you're thinking of bringing a baby into this world.' So we don't even care about cis women in pregnancy and labor. How do we expect any type of system to care about queer families, especially when, like, how they became pregnant is—can be completely differently? You know? That is like a whole thing that I'm like now trying to wrap my mind around because I've been doing this work for first six years predominately for cis families and now I am getting more queer couples, and I'm learning a lot but I'm still like, “ugh, you're going to a place it doesn't know what to do with you.”
Yeah. Right. And you, and you alone cannot fix that system.
I can't! You know, and I always say, like I'm [--] I don't even like the word doula, but I'm here to like literally help everyone figure this out. But I don't want to catch a baby. I have no business, I'm not interested in catching [--] I don't want to do nothing medical, you know what I mean? I don't want to take your blood pressure. I don't want to do none of that. I'm not interested, you know? So it's scary when people are like, 'you know more than me, you know everything.' and I'm like [--] just kind of like the meme. I don't know if you guys saw my Instagram when you talk nicely when they think you're flirting, I'm like, 'okay, I don't know what to do with this,' you know, that's how I feel as a doula. Like I don't want to be seen as an all knowing person, like, that's a lot of pressure. I don't want that type of role. Yeah, I'm not into that type of...reverence.
Yeah. Teachers who feel that way are the best, the best teachers.
I feel like a freakin fraud half the time, you know, cuz I'm just like, how are you doing this type of work if you're, if you don't necessarily like it? And it's weird. I don't know if I have to say that I like something or I hate something. I just know that I'm good at it. And it doesn't scare me to do it. You know, I don't view it as anything [...] I was at a birth one time and – I was annoying, because the midwife was asking me questions while she's suturing my client, and like, my client's in lala-land, but she's like, 'oh, Elizabeth, how long have you been doing this work?' And I'm like, "Six years." And she's like, basically said something and then I was kind of like, what I've been saying, I'm like, yeah, this is a job for me. I, you know, I do my job and I do it well. And she said, Well, you know, the minute that I stopped seeing this, seeing women as anything less than magic is the day I stop doing this, and I'm like, I didn't ask you, I don't care. [laughter] The default for me is that yes, we are magic, but I'm just not [--] your value is not because you are doing this or decided to do this. If anything, like, your value is ensuring that you feel like the most amazing human being possible, and like whatever you decide to do, whether is to have a baby or not have a baby, like it doesn't–like you're not magical because you're not, you know? That's another weird thing that I'm constantly in it, like for people who are like, I don't want to have a baby, I'm like, "Hey, I don't blame you." [laughter] If you want to have a baby, I'm like, Okay, let's talk about it. You know? So I'm, I'm thrown off a lot by people who, you know, work like other birth workers or midwives, because there's this is all this like, exoticization and sensationalizing and I'm just like, I don't know what to do with that. I feel out of place sometimes.
That makes a lot of sense. [laughter]
I don't know what to do sometimes.
Sounds like there needs to be more support, more just realness for people who want to have babies, for people who don't want to have babies–
I don't blame either person at all, like, and I think a lot of that has to do with again, the value that we place to people that decide to have children. Because if you do have children, and this experience is not a good one, or you're like, hey, maybe I shouldn't have or you have some regret, which is fucking normal, then you're judged for that. And you're like, you're a shitty parent.
It's a catch-22.
It's a catch-22. But to 360–well, 180, no I guess 360–to like being in Code Societies, you know, I just think of like how everything, every single thing that we've talked about is either in [--] I think of like what we're doing and what we're creating and the conversations we're having, ultimately will affect or impact my son. Like, I literally think of that. I think of the world that we're creating, whether it's like, just an art piece. It's like, just you know–I don't want to use the word silly, but just, you know, an art piece, right? I'm like, okay, can a child also interpret that? And not that a child is incapable of interpreting things because let me tell you something, these babies, they're on another level, [laughs] on another level and I'm just like, what? Okay, let me catch myself, you know, um, but I think of like how people can literally live their life not seeing a child, not interacting with someone who has a child. And then I think of what that life is like then for someone who doesn't understand the needs of the world that is going to occur after them. So like, if we're creating tools, and we're creating spaces, how is that for a society of parents or a society of children that includes them? I don't know. I don't know how that's possible. And I think that's why I have a hard time sometimes, because I cannot unsee or undo my role as a parent. I cannot unsee or undo all the families that I have supported, you know, even in my own building, like my landlord has a newborn baby that is crying often like, like, I'm sure other people hear them, but it's easy to like, you know. So that's something that I'm like, kind of like, thinking about and kind of grappling with how we can operate in – my son's name is Silo, so it's interesting, but I'm saying we can operate in silos, right, but like, just completely in our world, and I'm not judging people for existing in them. But like, I do think that we need to think of [--] everything that we're talking about is to create this world, but none of you are talking about how you're going to include the people who this world is going to be left to. And I just think that, that's like, insane to even not think about That's where I'm at these days.
That reminds me of my experience in a fine art program for undergrad, and the culture around making there was so against accessibility. It was like, not even if a child, but if a person on the internet can understand and appreciate what you're doing, then what you're doing doesn't even count as art.
That really almost killed me.
I can't–like why? What is this need to be like so posh and here and like, that's that and we're here. It's so [--] I don't know what it is about humans this innate need to be like–
Yeah, I don't know where that, what that is. I don't want to believe that that's like a quality that we all have.
No, it's not. It's not. But it is a quality of domination, because if you can justify that you're different then you can justify that you're better.
Which brings me back to this idea [--] like I love Char [Jeré] when she was saying white inferiority. And I was just like, yeah. But then I want to say like, who didn't love you?
Who didn't love you? I have a theory [...] Because so many of the current day practices in childbirth are, you know, the greatest time in America was in the 1950s. Right? But that's really when [--] like, by the 30s, 40s, and 50s, that's when women were no longer having children at home and they were moving into the hospitals, and hospitals literally were like, going into magazines to show them like, look at this room that looks like your fucking bedroom that you can have your baby and with a doctor and a white suit, that's like, right? So like, literally the movement from leaving the home to the hospital, and then separating the child and the parent, I think that that's what really created–not created, but facilitated the fucked-upness specifically in this country . Because there need [--] mother and baby should never be separated. And when you separate a mother and child you are facilitating disease, psychological impairment layered on, like the reduction in the [inaudible 55:23] oxytocin, like this is not okay. And like, we literally did this until like [--] we're still doing this. So many places are still doing this and now they're like, like the rooming in is like, a practice because you force people to room out.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like the default is out. Yeah. The default is to be separated.
I think that that that continues this idea of like, trying to find something to give you a purpose because like, you didn't have that as a child, even as a baby coming into this world you were just left over there and an incubator to keep you warm when your parent could have kept you warm. It's just a lot to like, taken in. And again I'm not like a 'Oh, I love babies and mothers, they're so cute', I mean duh, but like, this is some fucked up shit, we need to get it together [laughter] Like that's where I'm coming from, I'm not like a, like [--] there's this term called 'birth junky,' people like doulas that get like high off the birth [...] leave me alone, I cannot even [laughter] The good part about being around other pregnant people is like, if your period's late your period will come. [laughter] That's all I can say, everybody's on the same cycle [laughter] but I'm not gonna ever like, put myself in a position to take from someone's experience, that's what I'm trying to say by like, being all funny, is that all of these themes that come to my mind of like, taking, and separating, and excluding and including, and I think all of that starts around this time period. Which is probably why I'm still doing it, because I'm just like, I can't wrap my mind around someone experiencing that and being so alone and isolated and not having access to better themselves and ensure that their baby's okay, you know? I think you should be a doula [laughs].
[Laughs] Part of me really wants to. But when you say that it doesn't pay well, it makes me feel like shit [laughs].
Well, I get paid well, because I've made that for myself, you know? I [--] there are, yes, a lot of [--] but that's the thing, because there's like, this weird, again, antiquated way of doing things, especially in New York City, which is–there's so much fucking money–there have been like, collectives and agencies that say if you've never been to a birthing you can only charge this much, and I'm like, this person can charge whatever the fuck they want, because they're still going to leave whatever they're doing, leave their job, maybe, to go over here for a day and a half or two days or three days or four days, [laughter] to make sure that this person has her baby. So you cannot tell them that, because they've never been to a birth, they can't make money. If that person is willing to give them this money, then who's you to say, you know? So that's the type of stuff that new doulas come up in the city against. But no, you can charge what the hell you want off the bat. But again, like, that took some like, confidence for me to assert myself in that way. And that's why I work really well with my doula partner because we're both like [--] like she's a registered nurse, like an actual nurse at a really conservative hospital. And like, she hates that. [laughs] Yeah, like she's a doula. And she was also a breath assistant for some midwives in the city. So she knows, she like came into the world ready to do this in many ways. And then the compliment with me is that you know, I didn't. I like, found that I was like really excited about this. But I'm a mom, you know, and I've also navigated different birthing spaces and worked with many different providers. And so we put our experiences together and say, you know, we will feel good if we charge this amount of money. And we just split it down the middle, you know? My partnership with her is one of the most amazing partnerships I've ever had because it's never that somebody feels like the other person is doing more work than the other person. We literally have each other's back, which is again, how not [--] not all do the partnerships operating that way either, you know, and we felt like, we're going to do this how we want, you know? We're going to offer this amount of visits and we're going to do it this way. I think that that's what we need, in fact, in the new, in the doula community here in New York City, is like, a rethinking of how doulas can also uplift themselves while doing really, really difficult work. But yes, some doulas don't get paid well and then they get burnt out and I'm like...no, yeah, we cannot accept that. Yeah, you cannot accept that.
I was thinking, I was just thinking in all this conversation about my my own like, mom and birth experience, and was thinking that like, that she was like, trying to be an academic, finishing her PhD, trying to get teaching positions and then later tenure. And when, you know, she's in economics, so in a field that's like, totally dominated–like all of her professors were men, most of her classmates–trying to get her PhD, knew she wanted a kid and I think that part of the reason why she wanted a kid was because she wanted a friend. She wanted support. And like in academia, you know, my dad was like, I'm sure was like, a nice friend, but not like, fully supporting her. I think she was like, lonely and not supported in ways that she needed to be. And so that like drove her to want kids and then she has a kid, and then goes through this system of like hospitals and birth separation and then isn't supported in the process of even having a kid, and then, yeah. And then has me and then tries to continue like, her academic work then is has all this guilt for like, not being like as you know a stay at home mom-
mhm, let's talk about it.
Being around me as much as possible and then like, still needing me as like, a friend, and then that's not always like, the best way to treat a child and yeah, like you said, your dad [--] like, my dad was helpful but not like–didn't like, take it upon himself. Like the full weight of like, raising a kid the way that my mom did. So, yeah.
I feel lucky that I don't have to say that about my partner. In fact, I feel often that he's the better parent. [laughs] Because I'm just like, I look at him [--] like he takes the role of being our son's father. so serious. Like, he's too involved sometimes [laughter] No, he's fantastic. And part of that is because his parents, I think, like the three of them are unicorns. I have never met such special people. There's something really like there's something divine about their choosing. And like, this is like my partner. You listen to this man, like he's a grown man, like a 40 -year old man who like, he'll be on the phone with his dad and be like, yeah, Daddy. That is so sweet. But like, why am I saying that that's sweet? It is his daddy, you know, like, you know, but they're just the sweetest and he's always felt and gotten love by the men in his family. Like he has memories as a child of his grandfather just kissing up on him and like, running his fingers through his hair, you know? Which, that's exactly what he's gonna do with our son. That's how our son gets treated by the men in our family. Which again, makes me pissed off when we talked about fatherhood, specifically black fatherhood as like super toxic-masculine and like, which there are, right, but like, that is not existing in my household and my son gets loved upon, like that boy gets loved up on, which is probably why like, I understand your mom with the guilt of like having to do, like wanting to do her academic work, and then not being there for you guys because I'm just like, I haven't seen Silo in–it feels like days because I only spend like maybe two three hours with him in the morning a day. The rest of the time he's either at school with his dad. And that's been also like, really difficult to navigate, wanting to, you know, explore this new world that's like something [--] obviously something about this is like, calling me about technology. Like it's like, okay, Elizabeth come to this side, you know? And I feel like I have to play catch up because I haven't been it. But that means that like, I'm, I guess what I am giving up his time with my son. You know, I'm not giving up on sleep necessarily because I have to sleep, but I have given up on time with my son. I'm giving up like, being able to be there for dinner and put him to bed, you know? And then I do trust and know that my partner is going to do a fantastic job, but I'm like, Fuck, like I still–that should be me. You know? So like, before I came here, I was running late because I was like, Okay, let me make dinner for them. So when he comes home, he can just play with him. He doesn't have to, you know, those are like the little details that a parent that's hustling is like, having to like source to make sure there seems to be some equity going into this, you know, it's like such [--] like this is these are the relationships. These are the fruits. These are, these are the actual threads and fabrics of our society. And I'm just like [makes noise]
Well, I'm so grateful that you can bring some of that here, 'cause Code Societies wouldn't know anything about motherhood here about, about any part of the process of bringing a person into the world and who we're even making these code societies for.
Yeah, so my thing is like, I want to encourage everyone to find somebody that has a child and say, Hey, can I come over and like, help you make dinner, or like, help you do something so that you could have a moment to go [breathes deeply] Alright, let's do it again. But, yeah. Thank you for having me. Yeah.
Do you have any questions?
It was a big deal. Always. It was, I always know the answer. It was like I knew the answer, like my whole life because it was a very big deal to my parents, and it's mostly to my mom. When I was born, she had trouble producing milk. And I don't know why exactly, but probably just didn't. Probably it was so sad. But there was all this pressure that like "breast is best" or how you said it? Yeah, there was a lot of pressure for her to keep trying, so she kept trying but wasn't able to produce milk. And so then I kept getting like, smaller and smaller. Like the first couple weeks of my life, I just was like, losing weight rapidly because my mom couldn't produce milk. And then my, yeah, and my mom just like, was trying and didn't want to–in her idea–resort to formula. But there was like one night that this was happening was like two weeks after I was born, and I was like crying hungry at night and my grandma was staying with us. My grandma like, snuck into my room and started feeding me formula. And then I just–
that's classic actually. [laughs]
Loved it, apparently.Then they switched, and my mom was like, okay, she gave in to me being on formula. So I started drinking lots and lots of formula and they fed me lots of it because I had like, lost so much weight and then I got really chubby [laughs]. Yeah. And then I was a chubby kid since then. Yeah until I was like, started going through puberty. Yeah.
I always wonder what, you know in that situation, like damn, I wish we could rewind and maybe I would have been an adult when Melanie was a baby and I could've like seen what was going on with her mom. Because that's always usually the default that there's no milk, but then maybe there was something else that could have been affecting the entire thing, and like, when you said that, she was sad like, it's definitely possible, right? Like you cannot nurse under stressful environments. I was not breastfed. My mom had four children. Her first two were breastfed. I recently found out that her first, my oldest sister, she breastfed her for like a year, I think, and then she immigrated here to the United States and left her under the care of my aunt who nursed her, nursed my sister. My sister would be so upset. [laughter] She's like, ugh, disgusting! But I thought that was like, so amazing to, from like, two sisters to be able, you know?
Yeah, that is amazing.
Yeah, right. But there was a lot of guilt on my mom for leaving her daughter behind and there's like, you know, abandonment, there's like serious ties that happen through a nursing parent and baby. And then my second sister, the one after her, she nursed her a lot and my mom believed [--] or like my sister, I guess, was sickly. And she was like, Okay, I just gotta nurse her, so she nursed her for like, I think three years or something like that. But by the time she had the one right before me and then me. I think my mom was like, I'm tired. I'm done. I'm like, fucked up over this. And we're in New York City. Now there's formula available and I'm going to stress myself out. And she gave me that bottle of formula. So in some ways I nursed my baby for–it was like, two years and four to five months or something like that. And it was the most amazing thing I've ever done. Noot even like–I didn't like being pregnant, fuck birth, but nursing Silo was the shit. [laughter] Oh my god. And I keep saying it to the top of my lungs, and it's not boasting, it's really like–I can't even describe what that was like. And it's not that it was easy. It was just the act of doing it. Like my son was born four pounds, 4.8 ounces and he doubled his weight, like literally in a month, and only on my milk. And so I gave birth in a hospital, I had a cesarean birth, he was in the NICU. I had lots of obstacles. And somehow I had angels all around me that these nurses were like [--] I remember this one nurse, she was from Jamaica, she's like, You got milk,don't worry, because I was telling them, give him the formula. They're like, No, you have it, you have it, everybody was like, super understanding. The last day before he was discharged, the pediatrician was like, If we don't see Silo's blood sugar where we want it to be, is it okay if we add 10 cc's of formula to your milk? And I was like, Oh my god, yes. Like you're asking my permission? And you're just saying you're going to add to it? You're not going to say, No, you're just gonna– like, you know? Yeah, so I had a fantastic experience nursing my son, it was the most amazing thing to nurse this baby and then for him to like, pull off and just look at me. He would like, pull off, Look at me, and he'll go, [baby talk that sounds like "all good"]. I'm like, all good? Like, so we called him Mr. All Good for like, the first year of his life. It was a fantastic, I can't even, you know. And so when we weaned I was very sad. Honestly, I could start crying right now because I wish I could still nurse him right now. It was just such a pleasurable thing for me to do, and I use pleasure because it should be pleasurable to like, nurse and feed a baby from your body. This morning he like [--] he calls my boobs “Nina.” I don't know where that came from, Nina, but like, if he sees my boobs and he's like, playing with his toys, he'll look and he says "Nina," like they’re old homies [laughter], I swear to God, and then today, he was like hugging me. He had his hand here, halfway in a tantrum, okay, but then he like, stops and kisses. He goes right here. I have my shirt on. He kisses my Nina. He goes, thank you, Nina.
Oh, that's so sweet.
I've asked him, I'm like, “You like?” You know, he's like, Yeah, Nina milk is good.
I was like, “What is it? What does it taste like?” It tastes good. It tastes sweet. Yeah. Like, pretty mind fucking blowing. I can't even, like, Silo's the shit, and like, I just, I want everyone to have that. I want everyone to experience that cuz I do think it's possible, but when we're working in these systems and like force people to return back to work at, I don't [--] two weeks? Three months? Like it's not enough time. Yeah, it's not enough time, you know, and then when you're getting told, oh, the baby's too old and maybe has teeth.
Yeah, yeah. And I think that that is something that was happening with my mom because my mom was up for tenure and they only gave her three weeks off. And so she knew that, like in the hospital, and, yeah.
I had a student last night who was a pediatric dentist and she was like–she asked me this after class–she's like, Hey, can I ask you a question? This a new job and they're asking me to come back for two days about a month after I give birth, because all the other employees are Jewish. And so it's a Jewish holiday. And I said yes, but now I'm really nervous given what you've talked about the importance of like, recovering and staying home. So I prefaced, I told her, I was like, Well, the good thing is that it's only two days so we can plan for those two days. But I do want to encourage you to not say yes and say, I will see how I feel. It's not fair for people to go back to work or under the systems and be productive citizens when you just,you're doing the most productive thing of your life. [laughter]
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there is something that you said that I will respond to, but I don't remember [...] Okay, we were talking about [...] What were we just talking about?
Maternity, going back to work [...] feeding Silo [laughs]
Oh, naming! Okay. In Code Societies we've been talking a lot about the power of naming. And I love that that Silo-
is a silo [laughs].
Is a silo, and then had a name for this really important part of you that he formed a relationship with and like, was literally life giving to him, and then gave them a name. And I just think that that's really, really important. And going back to the like 'invention' of, or the discovery of the full anatomy of the clitoris, that when we just, when we know something is there, like when we can have anatomy and like names for the full thing then it becomes much more real. And this is kind of silly, and maybe off the record, but I think that it's been in pop culture, like in movies, it's very common for within couples for people to have names for the penis, like give it names within the relationship, but very, very rare if ever, that there'd be a name for the vagina, or the boobs [laughs] and I just think that that's like, really indicative of something. And it's really nice to have a name for something that you are like, dealing with in such a, you know, big part of your relationship.
Yeah. And like when he sees other babies nursing, he'll say, He's or she's eating Nina! Eating Nina! [laughter] And I'm like, yeah, the mom is giving Nina. [laughter] So he's going to know he was breastfed, because that shit was bomb for the both of us.
Yeah, yeah, I think It's really cool that Silo knew that it deserved a name.
I'd really love to see birth become more ceremonial or ritualized, and more of a celebration. Imagine like you said, like my birth could be a birthday. What if like, what if a birth, like going into labor like you didn't just call your doula, but you called like, all your friends. And they came with like, champagne, not to necessarily give you, but like, to share with each other and everyone just like, was singing and dancing and helping you through, and like they were like, sharing that moment with each other. And you were just there, you were just like, witnessing them share beautiful, celebratory moments with each other around you. And you are like, doing your thing and not like everyone was like staring at you just like, it was like a party that was for you but also for each other. And you're just there doing your thing. Then everyone's happy when the baby's born. That's what I would like. A kind of social system.
Yeah, some of them happen like that. That's the nice part. And they're usually very African centered, which is great with some drums happening at home. I've been part of two. But it's not the norm. When I think of birthing technologies, obviously I'm thinking of like a tool. But in hearing you speak, I was thinking of like, a new ritual around birth. And so like, imagine like, you know, like everyone goes to the DMV to get an ID. I'm hoping that people, like way before they decide to have a child, actually get the actual education on like, what it is to support someone laboring or birthing. Yeah, I think I would like that existence of people to become more birth curious and less birth afraid. That would be awesome. So that we're all prepared and we all could be there and do that. And that when it is our turn, should we choose to do that, we, you know, come prepared. And don't feel like we need to pay a lot of money to someone to help us do it [laughs]. Yeah, that would be [--] if that is a birth technology that could exist, that would be my, my choice.
Yeah. Going back to what you're saying about being a doula is a band aid. Like, I really love that your technology idea would be kind of putting you out of work.
Mm hmm. For sure. I know. It really would be putting work and that's okay. Because I can do other things. I always say, like even if I don't get hired by somebody, okay, there's another doula for that. And there's another client for me. Yeah. And none of this is like me. None of this is for me. It's just something that I'm doing right now in this moment because it makes sense, and it's like, helping me like, live my life.