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…
Lauren is a BFW mentor and doula who lives and works in Chicago. She brings an amazingly diverse field of skills and interests to her birth work — and she just had a baby herself! Read on to learn a little more about Lauren and her work.
Tell us a little about your birth work.
I have been attending births as a doula and caring for families postpartum since 2015, after I sat with two close friends whose parents passed away. That experience helped me realize that I had a capacity to accompany people through deeply transformative processes, and I felt a deep calling to that work. I have a new baby so my birth and postpartum work is on hold, but I’m still teaching childbirth education classes.
What’s special about the services that you offer to perinatal families?
I definitely focus on working with my queer and trans family. It’s really important to me that my CBE classes are relevant, accessible, spiritual, and affirming for this community. We come up against very particular barriers in language, care, and not seeing ourselves in the mainstream birth world. We also have incredible resilience, inner resources, and the light from all of the queer and trans ancenstors who have created families before us.
What is your academic/professional background? What do you do outside of birth work?
I have a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. We didn’t get grades, and every class was pass/fail. I loved it and was so challenged by it, and I often fantasize about going back to art school. In addition to my birth work, I work as an ASL interpreter, do gardening and landscaping with my partner, and work with young people in learning to grow and cook food.
What’s on your altar for classes/consultations?
We haven’t put our altars up yet (since moving when I was pregnant) but they contain a lot of stones, rocks, a milkweed pod, driftwood, shells… a lot of things from hikes and trips. Sometimes I’ll carry one piece around with me for a while, as a prayer. Sometimes they all stay on the altar.
What are you binge-watching right now?
Since giving birth in late December I have watched a lot of old seasons of “Survivor.” It’s great middle of the night watching, not too serious, and it reminds me of talking about it with my late grandfather, who was obsessed.
What are some of your favorite books?
Some books I return to over and over are Hens Dancing by Raffaella Barker, The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare, and Zami: A New Spelling of my Name by Audre Lorde. During my fourth trimester (which is coming to a close soon!) I’ve been reading Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light, which is murder-y but also gorgeous. I highly recommend her Gamache series.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I saw Eddie Money (“Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Take Me Home Tonight”) as a teenager at a balloon festival as the sun was setting, and it was perfect.
What’s your favorite vacation spot?
I have family in Sicily and we used to travel there a lot when I was growing up. I often fantasize about returning.
What your favorite thing in your house?
My current favorite thing is my bed! It’s big and perfectly firm, the bedding is beautiful, and the pillows are plentiful. My baby was born in my bed, and it’s where I have spent the majority of the last two months.
What personal goals/big projects are you currently working towards?
My current big project is parenthood! I have wanted to be a parent my entire life, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to raise this little one. As someone who has cared for babies professionally for more than half of their life, parenthood is lesson upon lesson of humility and self compassion.
What drew you to BFW, and what keeps you here?
As I was comparing CBE programs, the diversity and inclusion statement on BFW’s website drew me in. As I dove in further, I found that I loved the acknowledgment of birth as a deeply transformative experience and an initiation into parenthood. I applied for a scholarship, and after a beautiful in-person Crossing the Threshold (the second CtT BFW ever held!), BFW felt like home.