I’ve known for a while that this trip would not feel real until we left everything we own in a storage container, got in the car, and drove out of the city. So much has led up to that moment. When it came I started to cry. As we left the city limits. And not because I felt sad or scared or even because I was exhausted, but just because I have needed to feel that sense of freedom for such a long, long time.
That said it was hectic. We have great friends and a lot of support but we still had just so much to do, which left us arriving in Troy, our first stop, a half hour late.
We walked in, flustered and tired (Kelsey on two hours of sleep after working her last night at the hospital). What a warm and loving room to walk into. They were really onto something when they named the place ‘Heartspace’. Laura, a local doula, had arranged this space for us. She and I trained together. It was so momentous to see her professional 'Home,' meet her mentor, midwife Heidi, and to meet her community. I was able to meet 5 of her doula moms and thank Heidi for her support of Laura. It made me realize that all I want is for the world to see the greatness I see in all of my friends.
We presented our slides and were so moved by the questions that came up. In the group there were a lot of mothers and we were able to talk a lot about how to use fertility awareness on little sleep, how periods may be different after a baby, breastfeeding, nutrition and even sex and relationships.
One thing that we had not been so prepared for was just how much this could be about family and how much of our sexual and relationship and in turn individual narrative is shaped by the conversations we have and what we see reflected back at us via mainstream media. I will never forget being in a room the morning after our class with a group of mothers and their babies, discussing female orgasm and sex post partum. So many myths uncovered, honest words spoken and the affirmations to each other that we are indeed ‘normal,’ that what we may feel at different times is valid and okay. Our take away from this and our class was just that we feel so strongly that every person’s body has worth and we wish so much to communicate that.
This stop was so personally moving to me because of the strong doula connections I have here: Laura, my peer and incredible doula friend, and Antolina, whom I met when I walked into her home 13 months ago with her placenta pills. We have grown together and I have been privileged and honored to have been invited into their experiences of motherhood. I am so proud of them, to see what they have built to see their community and to see how they love their families.
As we walked into the mothers and babies group that morning I asked Antolina, who has recently appointed me her son’s Godmother what that would entail. ‘Just love him down when you see him,’ she said. She went on to describe how she and her husband Nelson just wanted to know that someone would raise how they would and love how they would. It was so clear to me that she was thinking of her toddler son as he would be as a child, a boy, a man and what his needs would be. I have always felt honored in the presence of this woman but now even more so.
Our next stop that evening was in Syracuse. We stayed with Aimee who trained me, Laura, and Antolina as doulas. I had been so excited for Kelsey to get to meet with this special woman, the woman who trained me, mentored me, never stopped telling me that I could, challenged me to look within myself, to be aware, culturally competent, taught me what social justice looks like. She brought me this far and is a strong, loving, ever-expanding force to be reckoned with. It struck me that we had landed so softly into the arms of my peer mentors, all of us trained and loved by Aimee, united by our assurance, from her, that our individual gifts were important. Once again I felt so much joy in being able to be in her home, to put her into the context of her beautiful family, to warm myself at her fire and eat at her table. Again we were able to watch and learn how people take the time to love each other.
The class itself was at the Women’s Information Centre, so much history in that one building. We were reminded how those who came before us had organized and spread their messages. After the class as we sat together in a local bar Aimee reminded us again of how important in-person meetings are. How much we can get done when we meet in all 5 senses. We spoke about the first women’s rights convention not far away in Seneca Falls and we were inspired to build on what those women who came before us had built.
We presented our classes in a cosy room to a community that was close and loving. The questions and comments flowed and we were reminded just how much we need these messengers on our team to keep spreading the word. For me it was such a moment of full circle to sit in a room with Aimee and the community she works within, a wonderful, warm group of women who all said they felt so inspired to keep sharing the information. I have dreamed for so long of building something and bringing it to my mentor and the fact that is happened was such a peak moment in my life.
Aimee has bound me with so many great change makers and to meet her as a friend and with something to say was so special. I will never forget it. I love this woman so much.
We stayed with Antolina in Troy and were both touched and inspired by how she and her husband love and support one another. The gratitude they express and how generous they were with their words of affirmation and love. We felt the same about Laura and her husband who came to support and be at the class, these small moments they took to show each other gratitude. When we came to stay in Syracuse with Aimee we saw the same thing. I have spent some much time in the homes of families in the last 5 years as a doula, baby nurse and friend and I was so touched to see how outside of the city there seemed to be space for life to happen, for love to expand and it reminded me how important it is to me to be so intimately with communities – the alignment of hearts.