In our ongoing Meet the Mentor series, you’ll get a chance to meet some of our amazing Birthing From Within Childbirth Educators and Doulas. You’ll learn a little bit about their Birthing From Within work – and, just for fun, get a glimpse into their personal lives and opinions! Today, let’s meet…
Deidre is a mentor and facilitator who lives and works in the Inland Empire area of Southern California. She entered the birth field as a doula in 2004, and began her BFW journey in 2009. Deidre is a Perinatal Health Educator for two large hospital systems in her community, providing parents with childbirth education, breastfeeding preparation, newborn care instruction, postpartum support, and breastfeeding support. As a facilitator, she has also begun to work on leading Crossing the Threshold workshops and mentoring new BFW initiates.
Deidre’s warm, compassionate, and thoughtful approach really shine in her work with both parents and with professionals – she is a real jewel in the BFW crown!
What are some of your current goals and projects?
I have been working with Corazon Counseling, a maternal mental health organization that provides doula services and various support groups that help families move through the childbearing year. Together with the owner, Emilia Jara, BFW mentor Kathie Neff and I are hosting a community-based doula training to give tools to doulas who are working with families that are experiencing maternal mood disorders.
Over the past few years, I have been moving into advocacy for black maternal health. So many black mothers and babies are being harmed by systemic racism and bias, both conscious and unconscious. I am exploring the call to help break down of the ideology of white supremacy and create the understandings that can inspire positive action. I am experiencing this call in three ways:
- The call to create a framework for folx of color who wish to become doulas.
- The call to assist black birthing families in exploring their options and rights.
- The call to educate and support those who wish to confront their conscious and unconscious biases, use their privilege to elevate the voices of the marginalized, give up their seats at the table, educate their white communities, and stay out of the way of black healing.
Finally, when I’m not caught up in all of the birthiness, I co-host The Queen Team Podcast, a space to help listeners cultivate their queendom.
What’s your favorite vacation spot – or fantasy vacation?
I adore travel – seeing new places, taking in the different terrain, and observing the culture and the day-to-day activities. If I really like a place I often imagine living there – sometimes I even research housing options! In the last couple of years, I have visited the island where my mother grew up, St. Croix of the United States Virgin Islands. It is like a little paradise. I still have family there, and it is a great place to get away. Other fantasy vacay spots include New Zealand, Brisbane, Australia, Bali, and Hawaii.
What are you binge-watching right now?
I have quite a few shows and movies in my queue, but there’s never enough time to make a significant dent! I find that the majority of the shows that I like to watch or want to watch feature strong female leads and/or families of color: Call the Midwife, Kim’s Convenience, Grace and Frankie, Queer Eye, Good Girls, The Crown, Dear White People, Queen Sugar, One Day at a Time, The Fosters.
Who is your favorite author?
My all-time favorite author is Elizabeth Gilbert. I have read all of her non-fiction books multiple times. They feel like a permission slip to live life to the fullest!
What song could you listen to over and over again without ever getting sick of it?
Music has such power. I often listen to individual songs on repeat; I feel like they transport me deeper and deeper into an understanding of myself, helping me to tap into my own power. Three songs that I am currently obsessed with are Jamila Silvera’s “Go On,” PJ Morton’s version of “How Deep is Your Love,” and Jacob Collier’s version of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”
What are some of your most tightly-held pieces of me?
(In Sumerian, me means a divine decree of culture, power, and civilization; in the Sumerian myth of Inanna, some of the me are embodied by objects – a breastplate, a string of lapis beads, a crown, a measuring rod – some of which Inanna wears or carries. BFW uses the term to refer to objects or ideas that we hold onto as part of our identity and protection.)
When I teach, I love wearing two rings that are special to me. One of them is made with a lapis stone that reminds me of the story of Inanna. When we tell Inanna’s story in BFW classes, we often play with the idea that her jewelry had belonged to her ancestors and had been passed on from generation to generation until it found itself on her body. I purchased my lapis ring while in Albuquerque after spending an incredible time with my BFW sisters training to become facilitators, so I like to think of it as a symbol of their wisdom and BFW wisdom being passed on to me. The other is a ring is in the shape of butterfly. It came to me at the end of trip to St. Croix at a time in my life when I was experiencing a lot of transformation. I felt that I was just coming out of caterpillar soup, and although my wings were still a little wet, I was positive that I would fly soon.
What drew you to BFW, and what keeps you there?
I often tell people that when I attended my first BFW workshop, I found everything I never knew I had always wanted. Growing up, I constantly felt compelled to create safe spaces in which people, particularly women, could be seen, heard, and celebrated. Such spaces were not the norm in the context in which I lived. I also wanted to create such space for myself and the expanding families with which I work. I was drawn to Birthing From Within by the way it created supportive space with ritual, validation, and the compassionate and honest acknowledgment of the difficulty of the transformative journey. This is what not only keeps me with BFW but also nourishes my passion to help other birth workers discover BFW and its strong support for parents and professionals.