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…
Christine is a veteran mentor, facilitator, and birth and postpartum doula in Oregon. She currently works with a group of hospital midwives, in a pioneering program that provides paid doula support in the hospital setting, at no additional cost to families. In addition to her many years of experience and the technical expertise that comes with it, Christine brings to her work a sense of playfulness paired with deep life wisdom. This unique combination of traits makes her a truly effective mentor who invites all of us to keep diving in to the ongoing work and play of life’s journey.
Tell us a little bit about your doula work.
I work as a hospital doula with the Providence Women’s Clinic. This position allows me the opportunity to support a much wider demographic of people than I might as a “private” doula. We offer services to people on Medicaid, people who don’t speak English, and people who might not otherwise be able to afford doula services. I love that I have gotten to help pioneer a program within the hospital that includes this kind of support and creates a template for the way doulas can work in an integrated team care environment. Our doula team has also done a lot of education for the hospital’s RNs and MDs about the ways that doulas can benefit and support birthing people and birth teams. This has helped create an open and welcoming environment for all doulas that may work in the hospital, including those who aren’t part of our program.
How does your previous career relate to your birth work?
Producing music events was probably one of the most helpful things to prepare me for working with the unknowns of birth. There is only so much you can “plan” for, and one thing you can expect is an element of chaos will show up somewhere along the way. This is where I learned how to truly go with the flow and be creative in my approach and thinking about things.
Are you working on any big projects right now?
I am getting ready to move part time from Portland to the Oregon coast to move in with my partner and help steward a 200 acre parcel of land that is owned by a friend. This is a big life change for me. It’s an opportunity to help create a retreat space for people to immerse themselves more deeply in nature, to slow down and connect with their sense of balance in the world. We are living in challenging times, and I feel that the more we can create these kinds of opportunities, the better.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I love costumes! I have a whole closet full of all different kinds of costumes, wigs, adornments, and accessories. I love any reason to wear a costume, and sometimes I do it for no reason at all. Halloween is my favorite time of the year.
What’s your current favorite book?
I recently discovered If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie. I quickly fell in love with it, and have been recommending it to everyone. I love the intersection that Blackie creates between ecology, mythology, and feminism, and how relevant the ancient stories are to modern life.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
Last year I bought a kayak and started kayaking. I love looking at life from the water and feeling the movement of the water underneath me and the peace of mind I get from the beauty of nature all around me. There are enough rivers and lakes in Oregon that I could explore a new one every time I go out!
What’s your favorite thing in your house?
My favorite thing in my house is actually not IN the house — it’s the yard and garden. The yard was bare when I moved in 14 years ago, and now it is filled with bushes, flowers, and trees that all tell a story. I love toys and yard art, and I have collected lots of things over the years that now live in the yard: gnomes and clowns, a big plastic horse, lots of wind chimes, and other random objects. The yard is my happy place.
What drew you to BFW, and what keeps you there?
When I first read Birthing From Within, I was intrigued by the focus on the internal journey of birth, as well as the idea of bringing ceremony, celebration, and ritual into birthing/parenting preparation. I had not seen this anywhere else in the books I was reading, and I felt it was an important missing piece in our culture. I had already been learning about traditional ways and cultures (not in relation to birth) for several years, so this aspect resonated with me and still does.
One of the things that I am most grateful to BFW for is the training on how to mentor rather than teach. I think that is one of the best gifts I have to offer to parents and other birth professionals. The mentor model creates a unique approach to learning that helps facilitate a place of self discovery for everyone. It allows me to stay curious and be a lifelong learner, and it keeps the work alive and fresh even after 15 years.