Hello readers and lovers of Empowered Birth Project! My name is Stepha. I am a mama to a boy named Rio, a birth doula, and I facilitate a support group for mothers—focused on helping women understand and integrate and reclaim their birth experiences that did not go as planned, were challenging and/or traumatic. I am an artist of many mediums and forever a student—right now my favorite subjects to study are somatic psychology, where science and spirit collide, and how fear is a gift. I hike in the old-growth forests near my home in the Pacific Northwest and I really love to decompress with a good ol’ science-fiction/fantasy TV show. I am teaming up with Katie as a regular contributor to the EBP blog!
From my background as a little girl obsessed with birth (pregnant Barbies for days) to becoming a doula years before I eventually gave birth myself, a planned homebirth that became a hospital transfer/medicated delivery of my son, I found the process of trying to integrate, repair and claim my birth experience as mine, remarkably complicated. When the shock wore off and I finally found direction within my sadness and confusion, I found myself frustrated and I found myself writing.
For the multitude of reasons of how you came to be here, be it curiosity, anger, intrigue, grief, your own critical thinking, it is my intention to be nuanced within a very complex issue so we can find this a space to spark some very cool conversations. Conversations regarding birth practices, birth theories and the collective narrative fueling both sides of the spectrum today—bringing empathetic yet necessary value and critique to both the ‘natural’/homebirth community and obstetrical/technocratic care. To engage in those types of conversations—the ones a rising collective of us want to address: why, on both sides, feelings of failure and shame and guilt and sorrow and jealousy are so easily spread among mothers today, why there exists within hidden and obvious social hierarchies this idea there is a right/wrong way to birth, how subtle tactics and fault-finding language is used that ends up fear-mongering and guilt-tripping others, and, what trauma is and how to repair. And how babies are built for resilience and how we can reclaim our birth experiences as ours.
All while trying to simultaneously empower women without dis-empowering women. All the while trying to use language that does not sounds like ‘I know the answer’ or ‘I know the way’. I feel excited and a little nervous embarking on this project because the blog world is a beast I have not networked with personally before. I do and do not know what I am getting myself into but here we go. How we birth, how birth happens, and how we feel about it is a tricky and exhilarating subject to interact with. To know how to touch both sides of the extreme so we can assemble the bridge together. I am glad you are here. Let’s build something!