REMEMBERING: A PoC Only Traditional Birth Attendant Training

In November 2017 I originally wrote this:

I cried many tears this past weekend. I cried for myself. I cried for my family. I cried for my ancestors.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I talked about my ancestors history and as I spoke about my birth trauma and postpartum stories. I was embarrassed but soon learned that my embarrassment is not what I should call it. I shall now call my embarrassment, healing, as I learn to be a voice for myself and for other PoC.

Today I am finally sitting down, seven months later, to finish this blog. It’s taken me this long because I have been pondering.

First things first this training was different than any other training I’d ever attend. This was strictly for PoC and on top of that Kanaka were honored by being offered a pay what you can scholarship. This training gave us hands on experience to learn about the stages of birth, traditional midwifery expertise, how to feel for babies positioning, traditional Mexican postpartum care and last but not least how to honor your ancestors.

This is a group photo of all the attendees.

I remember the first day of the training. It was actually a night time training, a meeting for us to gather, do monetary love exchange, blessings and introductions. Much love, pain, experience was shared in this night. Learning where my friends stood, slept and where their paths were leading them. Sumi spoke this night about what “Remembering” meant. And I learned that remembering is just what I was starting to do as a person and as a birth worker. Remembering means that for so long my ancestors had been oppressed and that I am now the vessel who can help bring their voice and traditions back. If I ask my ancestors for guidance they will guide me. They are apart of me of course. So by asking and honoring them, they will lead me.

On a personal level, I am Kanaka Maoli. I grew up in a family that did not have or honor much Hawaiian tradition. In fact since my grandmother was adopted we had lost a lot of our Hawaiian roots, ancestory, language and love for being Hawaiian. My grandmother grew up in a time that being Hawaiian was shame, therefore that trauma continued into future generations. Until myself and a lot of my ohana, I feel we are remembering. We are remembering that we do exist and that we have a voice, a way, traditions, expertise and mana.

The first day of training gave me the power to find my voice to speak to my ancestors, to speak about my culture, to speak about how I identify and to find friends who support my endeavors. The biggest gift has been the ancestral healing.

On day two through four we did all the other hands on training. Here are some pictures from the things we did.

We learned how to build altars for birthing persons. These are affirmations that we created.
We learned about moxabustion. My youngest came with me to the workshop and she got a front row seat.
We learned how to tell a babies positioning. This baby was Right Oxyput Anterior.
This is a horrible photo but I was practicing a Closing the Bones ceremony. This is apart of traditional Mexican postpartum care.

It’s been closer to a year since this training. And in this past year I have become very clear on my intent as a person and birth worker. More so as a PoC in the birth working field.

My intent as a birth worker is to hold more space for PoC. This doesn’t mean that I won’t or don’t support white families, because I do. It means that I am working doubly hard to make sure other PoC understand they have a voice and have options regarding pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

I am working to uphold traditional postpartum care on Oahu. I am learning more about my Hawaiian, Chinese and Korean roots. I have been learning about Zuo Yuezi – Chinese Sit In Month, as well as  Hawaiian and Korean traditions. My ancestors have truly led me to learn about these things. I asked, they gave, I work my ass off.

Every day I get clearer on my intentions and what I am working towards. For now I host my Ohana Play Dates to help grow a community. The Ohana Play Dates are PoC and LGBTQ+ inclusive. If you can’t join us then I hold space for you in my heart.

Here I am. Unapologetic. Remembering. Being guided.

Mahalo Sumi and Panquetzani for your knowledge and empowerment.

I am experiencing remembering. This is called ancestral healing.

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