In the northern hemisphere, where both of us are located, although in separate regions, spring is blooming. Perhaps you are finding, as we are, that you are even more captivated by the peeking crocus, even more enchanted by the later sunset, and even more energized by the warming sun. This has been a rough year, to say the least. Personally speaking, Lauren welcomed a much desired pregnancy, had Covid, moved apartments, grew a baby, and gave birth in isolation from community. Christine transitioned out of her role as a hospital doula from a program that closed due to Covid, and went through the painful ordeal of an unexpected disc injury, back surgery, and recovery. And of course, we all collectively struggled to cope with the pandemic and the shifts in work, learning, and relationships that it brought.
During all of this upheaval, we, along with a few colleagues, were also engaged in ongoing conversations with Carrie, Erika, and Nikki about the future of Birthing From Within. After a winding path, we arrived at a conclusion, and a new beginning: the two of us are honored to accept the stewardship of this beloved organization and community.
Like spring, we are hopeful and tender, and full of wonder at how these gardens may begin to bloom.
We want to express our deep gratitude to Erika, Carrie, and Nikki for their loving care and commitment, and for the many hours they have worked to get the foundation under Birthing From Within. They have shepherded many birth professionals across the threshold into deeper, more insightful practices. We also want to acknowledge the colleagues who originally joined us on this journey and chose to step away; the time and energy you spent on this project was invaluable.
Let us tell you a little more about ourselves…
Christine (she/her) is a mentor, doula, and facilitator with over fifteen years of experience in birth work. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and discovered BFW in 2003 at her first doula training. It was the concept of honoring birth as a rite of passage and a transformational experience for everyone involved that spoke to her most. Christine currently works as a consultant, helping to establish equitable community doula programs serving Medicaid patients in Oregon hospital systems. She has a passion for the intersection of birth and social justice work and aspires to be an agent of change in the world. In addition to the wisdom of experience, Christine loves to bring humor and fun to her work with birthing families and birth professionals. Christine has a thirst for adventure and a fascination with the natural world. When she’s not working, she enjoys finding new spots to kayak with her dog Lula Belle.
Lauren (she/they) is a mentor and doula who has worked in the birth world for seven years. They attended the first new Crossing the Threshold retreat in Atlanta in 2018 and were transformed by the rituals, nuanced discussions, and nourishing processes. Lauren lives in Chicago with her partner, Robin Berryman, who is the new BFW office manager, and their new baby. She also does work in other fields- all which have a common thread of facilitating access and holding space for others. Lauren has spent the past decade as a community interpreter, interpreting for many local social justice movements, and several growing seasons empowering young people around food access and land sovereignty. They bring all of the wisdom of these many paths with them to their new role at Birthing From Within. Lauren is excited to continue and expand the equity goals of this organization, and to situate Birthing from Within in ongoing conversations around birth and reproductive justice.
Our initial priorities will be getting the lay of the land, continuing to assess needs and opportunities, and tending to seeds that have already been sown. Robin has already taken over office management, following Margaret’s retirement. We are committed to the equity and inclusivity goals of the organization, and look forward to continuing expansive inclusive growth.
The mentors and doulas journeying with us are the energizing force of this endeavour. We are working our hardest to sustain what has been created and to cultivate new and exciting growth. Your collaboration, ideas, intuition, and roots in your own communities make Birthing From Within a powerful force in reducing birth trauma and connecting parents to themselves. Please reach out to say hello, suggest a collaboration, or offer a critique.
We are accountable to you. Your patience and grace is greatly appreciated in the coming weeks.
Christine D’Esposito (email@example.com)
Lauren Vallone (firstname.lastname@example.org)