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…
Farrah Sheehan Deselle
Farrah is a maternal child health nurse and Birthing From Within mentor in New Hampshire. Like many of us, she first encountered BFW at the bookstore, when she was pregnant with her second child and looking for books that might help her prepare for a VBAC. Three years later, in 2009, she took her first BFW workshop for professionals and began her journey as a mentor. She uses her BFW skills to mentor parents and nurses in coping with and supporting the birth and parenting journey. She applies her medical knowledge and skills to BFW, bringing realistic understandings of modern medical approaches to her own practice, as well as to the organization at large.
Birthing From Within International is THRILLED to announce that Farrah is fulfilling the historical role of the first Chair of the first BFWI Board of Directors, which convened in April 2019. With Farrah at its helm, the Board and the organization are headed for an amazing journey of new growth and development!
Can you tell us a little about your work?
I have spent most of my nursing career serving families in community settings. I have worked in schools as a nurse and health educator and as a visiting and community nurse seeing families in their homes. As a nurse home visitor, I saw thousands of families (literally) and provided one-on-one BFW childbirth preparation in a modified style to many of them.
For the past five years, I worked in a community hospital and developed a perinatal education program built on the BFW model. It was an amazing experience and I recently passed the program off to a nurse who has had BFW training. In my final few months in the role, I lead an education series for the staff that culminated with Pam England presenting two one-day workshops on Birth Story Listening for birth workers in our community. It was fantastic!
Currently, I am launching my own business: Perinatal Professional Services, for families who have experienced birth trauma, who are preparing for birth after trauma, or who need lactation support. I will also be providing education for birth professionals and working as a nurse consultant in the area of trauma-informed care and caring for families with addiction and in recovery.
While I am working to build my business, I also work part-time for New Hampshire’s only academic hospital through a grant-funded program. I am the Project Implementation Specialist to help hospitals transition to a holistic model of care for infants who are exposed to opioids in utero. The model of care is called Eat Sleep Console. If you work with birthing people in recovery, you may be hearing about it in the coming year. It is catching on like wildfire across the country.
Where do you live?
I live in southern New Hampshire, in a small town, Amherst. It is about one hour north of Boston. It’s too cold for me. Once my kids are out of school, I want to be in the desert, or near a warm ocean, or in Ireland (or better yet, a bit of all three!!).
What are you really into right now?
I am reading and listening to David Whyte. He is an Irish-English poet and philosopher. Tons of BFWish perspectives are offered in his work. I have been working on memorizing the pieces that speak to me most. My favorites are “Santiago” and “Sometimes.”
What’s on your altar for classes/consultations?
Shells from Ireland. I went last year for the first time and made the most amazing discoveries – a living relative and the place where my great grandmother was born and raised. I had no idea about either one when I started my journey. I dipped my body in the Celtic Sea at the fishing pier where she caught fish for her family. I am so grateful to have discovered her, and I call on her in my work.
What are your hobbies?
I LOVE to dance. Any kind of dance, anywhere. I love to move my body and have a fabulous time. It’s one time when I am truly in my body, totally present, and don’t have a care in the world!
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
A lot of BFW folks probably don’t know that I also love sex education and adult pleasure! I taught sex ed in middle schools when I was a school nurse, and over the years, as my kids have grown, I have found my way into parenting groups to help lead discussions on talking to our kids about bodies, sex, growing up, sexuality and inclusivity, sex-positive parenting, etc. More recently, I have been offering adult sexual health and pleasure workshops and selling pleasure products through a great company called My Secret Soiree. It is so much fun, and of course there is so much overlap with birth and our sexual selves. As I move into my mid-forties, I find that I am especially passionate about this topic.
Do you have a favorite artist?
I recently visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where there was a Frida Kahlo exhibition, as well as an exhibition called Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico. Iturbide is a Mexican photographer. She has photographed Frida Kahlo’s personal belongings, and has other amazing work. She reminds me of Pam England: wise, knowing, and a beautiful story teller. I highly recommend checking her out, and watching some of her video clips. There are lots of juicy metaphors there for our work, I think.
What’s special about the services that you offer?
Well, I suppose what is special is that I walk in two worlds – the mainstream health care world, and the BFW Eagle Eye view world – and I have become pretty damn good at it. I used to fight it, judge it, feel like I had to pick. But as I get older, wiser and more experienced, I realize that my ability to understand what is happening in health care AND serve a birthing person or a family with the skills and mindset I have developed on my BFW journey is valuable. That’s why I decided to start my own business and step out of the health care system just enough so that I can blend everything I have been doing, learning, practicing, and loving into something that I create and build myself, that serves any family, in my community or around the world (virtually). I have developed relationships with individuals in health care systems that may be very valuable to our collective work in BFW, and I intend to continue to foster those and find ways to stay connected to health care systems, but with more personal freedom.
What drew you to BFW, and what keeps you there?
Oh, my…BFW. It’s home for me really. The people, the places, the way of being, what it brings to me as a professional. As I walk in my two worlds, BFW keeps me grounded and helps me remember who I am, what I am doing, AND that I am not alone.