Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Midwifery School Check in

Welcome to my last year of Midwifery school




In the present moment

I am 22 births & 45 units away from completing my midwifery program. For the past 2 months, I have been transitioning from my role as a a junior student to being the primary midwife under supervision (senior student).

What is the role of the primary midwife under supervision? I get to midwife all the client’s in our practice, catch babies, provide prenatal care, well woman (person) gynecological  as well as postpartum care. On top of all of this, I am responsible for all the paperwork that comes with being a midwife, my least favorite part, but it does feel nice to have the responsibility as a hungry and eager student midwife. All under supervision of my preceptors of course.This is my final stretch before preparing to sit for my NARM ( North American Registry of Midwives) exam, which qualifies me for my licensure with the Medical Board of California.




The past two years

I have had the privilege of working with 6 midwives, in 3 unique midwifery practices. I’ve traveled to all directions in LA and surrounding neighborhoods and worked with a broad spectrum of families. All while, simultaneously working as a doula & wellness promotora. I have fallen in and out of love and learned the value of sacred partnerships. My definition of Love has evolved & grown so much.  Healing, healing & more healing! I have been able to heal from generational trauma. Spirit guided me to move into my own sanctuary in the hills of Happy Valley. I let go of the stability that came with working at the nonprofit sector. Learning to have an appreciation for sleep and self care has been invaluable. let’s see what else?

 I have grown closer to creator.This rigorous program has put me on my knees. Surrendering to the unknown has been challenging at times. Letting go of that which I have no control over has been a blessing in disguise. Learning to be vulnerable has not been easy. I have realized how much help I need and how much support I already have. My limiting beliefs have come to surface asking me to heal from them. Midwifery school is expensive & if it wasn't for creator & community support, I don’t know how I would get by.  I’ve never cried so much in life like I have been in the past two years. Crying out of love, fear, injustice and joy. Crying my butt to sleep because sometimes birth ain’t pretty & I've witnessed near death experiences for both mom and baby.I am currently being stretched in multiple directions, the burning sensation feels so good. This sensation is allowing me to feel and to come back to my body.Becoming sensitized, embracing compassion,  dancing with my femininity & masculinity, embodying empathy, opening up my heart and truly loving without any walls are all lessons I am mastering. I am completely naked, raw, I feel exposed & have discovered that underneath all these layers that I have let go off, I shine so bright. My journey to midwifery is a story of resilience, love, humility & deeply rooted ancestral medicine.

I am PREGNANT!

“ I am pregnant” says my client. I’m looking forward to hearing this statement more often.lol! I bet most of you thought I was pregnant. Just to let you know, that’s not happening anytime soon. However,the plan is to complete my midwifery program in 9 moon cycles, that’s 252 days, and 3 seasons. I have been working really hard to complete my academic portion of the program by completing 20 units per quarter. My clinical portion of the program will also be completed at the same time. Stay tuned! There will be plenty of opportunities for you to see me in action as I grow into my role as a licensed midwife.

One of the perks is being able to organize well woman (person) clinic days, where folks can receive gynecological care/education including pelvic & breast exams. After I complete my program, I will go on a hiatus to study for my NARM. Please keep me in your prayers! Midwifery is my way of life now. Everyday I’m being asked to step into my role as a midwife. This also means shedding skin and letting go of my role as a doula. I am asking for your support to help me complete my program.

Support  a women's-led conscious business:

 My doula & wellness practice sustains me in my midwifery program and in life. Unfortunately, there is no financial aid for my midwifery education. I am very grateful for all my clients who seek me out to support their journey; the fair exchange to this is that they help to pay for my tuition & personal expenses. Here are some ways that you can contribute to the development of a community Midwife:
  • Promoting my services to all your networks
  • Hiring me to support your childbearing & wellness journey
  • Some of my services include: birth/postpartum doula, placenta encapsulation, reiki, childbirth education, wellness consults, belly binding, health classes,  traditional postpartum ceremony, doula mentorship, ect.
  • Have I already supported you? If you feel motivated to do so please consider writing a review on my website, Facebook, or Yelp. (links below)
  • Hugs always help!
  • Check in's are always welcomed


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Mil Gracias! Tlazokamati! Thank you!

-Maria Teresa

Yelp: Womyns Medicine
IG: Womyns_Medicine

* Pictures posted with permission 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Flowing With The Winter Blues



Winter is an event that is experienced by all living beings on Earth.  Characterized by drastic changes in nature and the "holidays", it is a time for a change of pace.  However, sometimes a change of pace can throw us a little bit off balance. During the holidays that take place during the winter, we experience changes in  our routines in school and/or work due to the extra days off that most of us are able to enjoy. For some, this time off is very appreciated and it is spent with family and loved ones; while for others this is a time of melancholy and solitude and sometimes may fall into the "Winter Blues".

The Winter Blues can affect many different people, for different reasons. For example,  migrant workers may find themselves feeling lonely and missing their families if they are far from home and are unable to visit. Those who have recently been through break-ups , separations, or death may also have a hard time during the winter and holiday season. 
Whatever the circumstances may be, it's important to acknowledge that it is healthy to take time to reflect and heal if necessary,  but it is also important to know that melancholy can develop into mild depression if a flow of sad emotions is not addressed. 

Here is a brief summary of common causes for depression as listed in "The Melaleuca Wellness Guide" Chapter 12: "Healthy Body" pg. 133
Here are some Simple Tips on how to flow through the Winter Blues:

Water: We all know hydration is essential for our body to function since we are 70% water.  Water also is a great medicine for headaches, fatigue, and many other afflictions.  However we have noticed in the winter we often forget to drink water since it is so cold.  Just a reminder, we may warm up our water and drink it just like that or add some lemon juice or peppermint to it.  We may also drink teas such as Chamomile or  Tulsi, Martha's favorite that can help decrease our stress levels. Finally we may make more nourishing soups or broths that may provide much needed warm hydration for the winter months.

Sunlight: Our body craves the sunlight vitamin.  We are meant to spend more time outdoors enjoying the sun and unfortunately we are often in our home, offices, or cars. Sunshine gives us much needed Vitamin D that is essential for a healthy immune system and one of the best medicines for depression. Wake up earlier when possible and greet the sun as it comes up, take lunch outside or do your best to seek the sun whenever it is out.  Also if you are still lacking sunlight you may supplement with foods such as mushrooms, fish oils, eggs, tofu, or get Vitamin D drops from your local health food store.

Movement: Exercise or movement is a great stress reliever.  When we move, shake, boogie, or just walk it is not only beneficial for our physical self but it also moves  and clears stagnant emotions.  In this technological age we may not have to go outside to workout just put youtube on your gadget and look up tai chi or yoga for beginners or put some music and dance your heart out.  Finally whenever weather permits do go outside for a hike in nature or a brisk walk around your neighborhood.

Touch: In this digital era we hardly ever hear people's voices much less touch them.  Touch is very important for us humans it is scientifically proven to calm stress, decrease disease, and strengthen our immune system. If possible go get a massage if you cannot afford one get a partner and look online on how to give each other a massage or do self massage to hands or feet.  Have a partner, friend, pet, etc. near to cuddle, hug, or carress.

Cacao: This is our ultimate favorite for preventing depression!  Chocolate is a superfood and was an important and sacred drink of our ancestors.  Cacao affects dopamine levels in our brains which promotes relaxation, increases focus and alertness and helps us feel good.  Please do not get the sugary chocolate that will make you feel good one minute and horrible the next, you may get good raw cacao nibs or powder at your local health food store and enjoy such a sweet glorious food by itself or mix with water, vanilla, honey, and cinnamon for a warm winter drink.

Finally, make positive affirmations. Thinking positive thoughts increases self-confidence and can instantly change your mood and perspective. Understand that is normal for ALL beings to go through changes, challenges and even sadness; but it is also normal and a great gift from life to experience laughter, happiness and a sense of achievement and triumph. Believe in your self and always walk towards the light at the end of the tunnel. As long as we are alive, we are able to look for solutions to the issues that burden us. Also remember that you are worthy of joy and love and the key to your happiness and prosperity is your hands!

To close, we would like to share an affirmation with all of you. May it empower us to flow with the changes of life and the Winter Blues:

Thank you for reading. We wish you all a beautiful winter season!




Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why should we support Mothers in prison?







                Since I joined Ticicalli I have thought of and worked towards supporting mothers in prison.  This is due to the fact that mothers in prison are some of the most vulnerable womyn here in the United States because they are judged harshly and are often forgotten.  Also because I see myself in these womyn I’ve just had a bit more luck along my life’s journey.  The innocent children are left behind and suffer the most, as a society we must think of them before we demand harsh criminal sentences to mothers.  I believe that everything in this universe is interconnected and what happens to one affects us all.  As a “justice system” we also have to realize that how it is filled with institutionalized racism and classism. 

                                     

                Who are these womyn? And why should we support them?  Most womyn in U.S. jails and prisons are womyn of color affected by historical transgenerational trauma of colonization, genocide, slavery, rape etc.  They come from low income communities that lack resources, quality schools, employment opportunities, quality food, etc. Due to the lack of important things that enhance quality of life there is high crime rate, drug and alcohol addiction, prostitution, violence, etc.  According to FAMM, more than 56% of women in federal prison are mothers, the majority are non-violent drug offenders.  Although these womyn live in less than optimal living conditions they are usually very resourceful and resilient which allow them to be able to survive but the challenges often outweigh the strengths and very few are able to thrive and live a different way of life.

                                     

                As mothers I feel we all do our best we can do with the information and support we have.  The womyn inside jail and prison walls I believe are no different than any of us but usually have little to no support which may lead to disastrous life’s decisions.  Most have a history of substance abuse, dependency of system and/or men, and mental illness.  Also often have history of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse usually by family members and/or close friends.  Many times they are from single parent homes and have one or more family members with a history of incarceration.  It is difficult to break the chain of abuse and to learn how to love in healthy ways.  How can we love someone else when we often do not have any love for ourselves?

                When I see that trauma death which includes homicide and suicide as the number one cause of maternal mortality, it is evidence on how trauma manifests in mental illness and violence especially with the added stress of motherhood.  Often we create children in less than prime environments because of learned lack of autonomy for our bodies and the neighborhoods we live in.  If incarcerated while pregnant we create one of the most stressful and damaging environments for a baby to develop.  Think about it the meals do not offer proper nutrition, there are no bathtubs or even bath mats in showers, the buildings are filled with cold concrete floors, many have little to no exposure to sunlight and fresh air, and they are very isolated.  As Dr Gabor Mate stated, “How we provide supportive environment or stressful environment has a huge impact on the long term development of the unborn baby.”

                

                As stated before this could have been me, I too have a lot of trauma, struggle with depression and anxiety, and am still learning what healthy love is and healthy relationships look like.  The difference is I have been lucky to have found a support system and organizations that have helped me initiate healing and create changes in myself.  I have learned about the importance of things such as: self-love, emotional intelligence, healthy communication, and much more.  We need to end the cycle of violence, trauma, etc. and heal ourselves and our children.  As a mother I try to provide to other mothers: empathy, support, resources, and information.  Instead of judging mothers I attempt to learn their story, walk in their shoes, and remember that each one is doing the best they can under almost impossible circumstances.  All I can do is create support systems in my community and find creative and effective ways to distribute known resources to as many womyn and families as possible.

We are resourceful and resilient and we cannot settle for just surviving we have the capacity to heal and thrive!

                                         

Listed below are some groups in Los Angeles that I know provide resources and support for mothers and families and/or are helping with policy changes in creating alternatives to incarceration.  If you all know of more please let others know.  Thank you, we need to support one another for the good of our children and the world.

International network for recognition & payment for all caring work, and the return of military spending to the community starting with women the main care givers everywhere.

Critical Resistance seeks to build an international movement to end the Prison Industrial Complex by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure. As such, our work is part of global struggles against inequality and powerlessness. The success of the movement requires that it reflect communities most affected by the PIC. Because we seek to abolish the PIC, we cannot support any work that extends its life or scope.

Prototypes’ mission is to rebuild the lives of women, children and communities impacted by substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. We promote self-sufficiency while ensuring safety and shelter for those in need.

Our goal at the Village is to give you, our clients, and the practical lifestyle tools for taking charge of your own health. As one’s health improves, so too does the quality of one’s life. Come to one of our events and let your voice be heard. Be part of our growing community where diversity is always valued, where there is an antidote for physical and emotional pain, and where the possibility of a long healthy life is available to everyone.

Our Perinatal Outreach and Education program reaches out to women in the greater downtown Los Angeles and East Los Angeles areas to provide short-term assistance, case management, health education and support.

The mission of Un Paso Mas is to provide caring, culturally relevant services to these diverse, underserved communities. Un Paso Mas and Project Return Peer Support Network are responding to the tremendous needs in this part of the county, where there are limited mental health services and support groups.

The Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is working to build a youth, family, and formerly and currently incarcerated people’s movement to challenge America’s addiction to incarceration and race, gender and class discrimination in Los Angeles County’s, California’s and the nation’s juvenile and criminal injustice systems.  The YJC’s goal is to dismantle policies and institutions that have ensured the massive lock-up of people of color, widespread law enforcement violence and corruption, consistent violation of youth and communities’ Constitutional and human rights, the construction of a vicious school-to-jail track, and the build-up of the world’s largest network of jails and prisons.  We use transformative justice and community intervention/peacebuilding, FREE LA High School, know your rights, legal defense, and police and court monitoring to “starve the beast” – promoting safety in our schools, homes and neighborhoods without relying on law enforcement and lock-ups, preventing system contact, and pulling people out of the system. We use direct action organizing, advocacy, political education, and activist arts to agitate, expose, and pressure the people in charge in order to upset power and bring about change. –

The mission of Echo Parenting & Education is to support and facilitate child raising rooted in connection and empathy. We teach parents, teachers and others who strongly influence children’s lives an approach that integrates current research in human development and trauma-informed care with the practice of nonviolence.

The mission of Maternal Mental Health NOW is to remove barriers to the prevention, screening and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression in Los Angeles County.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Urban Story telling with StoryCorps


Maria: Student Midwife
Maria


Martha and I  had the opportunity to share our stories as members of  Ticicalli and the work we continue to do in the community. Ticicalli  has been weaving together for the past 6 years promoting indigenous birthing rites, providing community doula services & inter-generational healing.



Martha



We first created sacred space, making an altar and asking permission to our ancestors. We gave thanks to ometeotl and the spirits guiding us.

We talked about:  
- the importance of cultural revitalization and preservation
- Homebirth
- Home funerals
-Rites of passage
-Womb-tomb doulas
-Transitions
- Providing culturally relevant support 
 -Ceremony
-Motherhood
-Abuelita medicine
 - In xochitl In cuicatl


We concluded with sharing how  providing culturally relevant support during sacred transitions such as birth and death is preventative care. It creates a space for the healing of trans-generational trauma and isolation. How honoring our traditions provides an opportunity for the awakening of our genetic memory, to also being present in our bodies and the continued resistance to colonization!



Stay tuned! For more information and to listen to the recording keep checking  out Mujeres de Maiz and StoryCorps at: 
www.mujeresdemaiz.com
storycorps.org



In gratitude,

Maria

Monday, September 7, 2015

Our Unschooling Journey




My partner and I decided to homeschool when our oldest daughter was only a year old, she is 6 now.  After speaking to homeschooling parents and looking at different ways to do this we decided to unschool.   


What Is Unschooling?
Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Wikipedia
              This is also known as interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning. Lately, the term "unschooling" has come to be associated with the type of homeschooling that doesn't use a fixed curriculum. When pressed, I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. By John Holt, author, educator, proponent of unschooling.


This has been a journey filled with many emotions ranging from anxiety and fear, to love and trust.  As a brown low income family living in Boyle Heights there has been very little support since this road is taken more often by higher income, white, and Christian families.  Despite all obstacles, this has been a beautiful struggle where we are learning to surrender and allow learning to be natural taking place all day, everyday.
Yolanda Rodriguez (left) and her family at a Popol Vuh workshop.Displaying 20150603_120206.jpg
My partner and I decided to head the unschooling route because we do not think we learned too much in a classroom setting.  Both of us are LAUSD graduates with a variety of learning disabilities and anxieties that were undetected and often provoked in grade school.  Learning, we believed was something we did on our own because we wanted to do it and it was difficult for us to learn what was present in the classroom.  Also sitting still to learn we believe  is unnatural and difficult to do for a long time for anyone at any age.


We do not blame teachers.  Both of us had a few teachers that were very creative and allowed learning to happen.  Unfortunately teachers are limited in their capacity to encourage learning with low pay, overcrowded classrooms, bells ringing to conclude learning, standardize testing, budget cuts, and many more barriers.  I blame the system that has institutionalized and homogenized learning which leaves many children behind.


That said unschooling is also tough.  From many family members, friends, co-workers, and even strangers we have received a lot of unrequested opinions such as:
“Children cannot learn from parents.”
“They will never learn to socialize.”
or my favorite
“Are you stupid? They need school to learn.”
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Parents are the child’s first teachers, they model everything we do. When healthy emotional relationships are modeled, children recreate those dynamics too.  So we try our best to show them our learning process so they model us. It can be simple things such as: reading, listening to socially conscious talk radio, hiking, television shows, cultural celebrations, museums, facilitating workshops, cooking, listening, etc.  We also seek intergenerational spaces for learning such as community gatherings, ceremony, workshops, or classes.  We look for free or affordable classes offered in our community.  Luckily we also have many awesome friends and family members that offer to take care of our children while assisting in teaching them something they know.  Finally we also incorporate common classroom items such as: puzzles, games, workbooks, and arts & crafts.  


Are they learning?  Yes, they are.  They know how to do many things and are very independent.  My oldest child prepares simple meals that do not require heat such as yogurt with fruit, sandwiches, shakes, etc.  Both our children have learned about anatomy, nature, childbirth, animals, political movements and much more.  They love to perform dance, music, and poetry.  Most importantly they have a lot of love and empathy for their fellow living beings and nature in general.  They also advocate for the liberation of humans and animals from prisons and zoos.  My oldest has already began to establish her own business called “ Vulva Power”.  The money she earns is used to purchase learning tools of her choice.
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How will they learn to socialize?  My daughters like most children are shy at first but are able to socialize well.  Since they are not isolated to their peer group in a school setting they socialize fairly easily with people of all ages.  They socialize in intergenerational spaces and they learn socialization by modeling from their caretakers, family and friends.


Do they need school to learn?  No, they do not “need” school to learn and we are not stupid.  We have just made a choice that may be different than most and it was by no means an easy choice to make.  We have had to make many sacrifices while navigating and juggling employment and childcare responsibilities.  Despite our struggles we feel this has been the best choice for our family.  We try our best to respect other families and their choices, so if you do not support our choice please at the very least respect it.
Unschooling has been quite a lovely journey, which is ideally done by following a child’s lead, providing learning tools to guide them and trusting learning will happen in a natural structure.  Coming from a structured way of learning in our school system, the unschooling concept often gives me moments of anxiety and fear.  
Fears such as:
“What if they never learn to read?”
“We need to step it up and teach.”
“We need a curriculum”
These fears are valid after all our oldest is already 6 and does not know how to read, she can barely spell her name.  These are just short moments of fear because of the support we do have.  We have a few adult friends that were unschooled, they learned to read and much more.  Also my sister, who attended public schools, learned to read until she was almost 9 years old.  My sister also has worked in a variety of school settings and had studied Child Development.   She is my main encouragement to homeschool.  
She tells me things such as:
“Keep doing what you are doing, the girls are doing great.”


“I think schools give too much homework, not enough play and rob children of true childhood”


“Children learn most by playing, critical thinking, and using their imagination.  Unfortunately these are often not supported in schools children of color attend ”
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So we will continue to unschool for the moment maybe we will change our mind and choose a different route later on but right now it is working well for us.  My partner and I with our daughters continue to learn all day, everyday.  Unschooling has been the ultimate concept in learning to let go, surrender, and trust the process. We love unschooling our children it is freeing because it is helping us heal our self confidence and ability to truly understand things that we were unable to learn in the many schools we attended.  


As Albert Einstein once stated “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”  
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Mother's Perspective on Lyricism in Pop Music. Story shared by Roxy ElRey


I look around and I ask myself, “Am I crazy or am I the only mother that thinks this is inappropriate?” I am not a square and I don’t preach religion. I promise. However, I refuse to allow my children to fall victim and watch countless hours of TV or listen to the senseless “music” of today.
While I know that I can’t prevent my kids from being exposed to certain things during the time they are away at school; I work very hard at home to educate and raise two beautiful mindful boys. My oldest boy is seven years old and should not be singing along to “going up on a Tuesday”. If you are anything like me, you can already imagine my reaction.
This brings me to my next point which is about public education and what our children are learning at school. To keep my son busy and active during the summer break I enrolled him in the L.A.’s Best summer program. Here we are as parents trusting that the school district has good judgment and hires competent individuals to care for our children. I arrive to pick up my son and walk into all the kids in the summer program dancing and singing along to the “Nae Nae” song. I am sure you’ve all heard this ridiculous tune. Here are a few lyrics:
Now watch me whip (kill it!)
Now watch me nae nae (okay!)
Now watch me whip whip
Watch me nae nae (want me do it?)


The first question one may ask is “what on earth is nae nae?” As a mindful parent that questions the subliminal message behind every pop or rap song, I found that Nae Nae is actually a person. This person is a female character named Sheneneh Jenkings on the famous 90’s sitcom Martin. Ms. Jenkings is the best person to describe the meaning behind the song. A ghetto, promiscuous, unattractive hot mess dancing like a fool. So basically, my child was singing “watch me foolishly dance like a trashy whore”.
On a second occasion my son’s father walked into the kids listening to “Trap Queen”. Some lyrics are as follows:
Married to the money, introduced her to my stove
Showed her how to whip it, now she remixin' for low
She my trap queen, let her hit the bando
We be countin' up, watch how far them bands go
We just set a goal, talkin' matchin' Lambos
A 50, 60 grand, prob' a hundred grams though
Man, I swear I love her how she work the damn pole
Hit the strip club, we be letting bands go
Everybody hating, we just call them fans though
In love with the money, I ain't ever letting go
This needs no translation as it is very literal. “What is wrong with the youth of today?” many ask. I say music plays a great influence. Most pop or rap songs consist of drugs, sex, money and shaming of women. If you pay close attention these songs are becoming our reality. This is the plan of course. No zombie apocalypse needed. We are the zombie apocalypse. We walk around blinded and ignorant to what really matters. Remember the more we know the bigger of a threat we are to those in position of power. Everything around us has been created to keep us ignorant and blind.
As parents we need to stand strong and create a solid foundation for our kids. Education starts at home. These days you see parents and children in the same room staring down at a screen and not engaging in something as simple as a conversation. As parents we should be playing, creating, talking and reading to our kids.
As I mentioned before I work very hard toward mindful education for my kids. This includes activities such as art therapy, crafts, meditation, yoga, board games, reading but most importantly communication. We can’t allow our children to learn from music or other inapt sources. We must decolonize play time and the classrooms for the future of our children and their children.
I am a mother and I am against pop music and what it is teaching our children. Are you?
Roxy ElRey

This story is part of the International M.A.P. blog series and Dialogue Starters. 2015
                                   
      

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Rants of a Pregnant Mama from Chaos Toward Healing

I found out the week before my first daughter's second birthday.  I was busy with an internship to help me find a "real job".  I needed a job; I had been unemployed for almost 3 years, even though I have always engaged in volunteer based community work.
Okay so I was busy and had stopped tracking my moon cycle. At that time also weaned my eldest.  It was the beginning of June, and was spotting for a few months by then and my period absent for the whole month of May.  After feeling nauseous for three days....I knew.

So I told my partner, who had been trying to find a job for almost 2 years about my suspicion and he said - "Shut the f... up, for real?!"  We bought a cheap pregnancy test at CVS. I peed on it as soon as I arrived home.  The plus sign quickly formed....I then told my partner, "Read, what does that mean?"
He responded "It means you're pregnant.  I guess we are having Another baby"
"Wait but look one line is lighter than the other."  I said.
"That doesn't matter look."  He then showed me the instructions...yes they said that one might be lighter that the other.  Damn it, I was pregnant Again!
I stared at the test for about 10 minutes. I picked it up looked and looked, but the answer did not change.
"Oh My God! I am pregnant AND We Are Poor!".I thought."What are we going to do?!"
Denial was in full force."Maybe I did it wrong.  I peed on it too long...I can't BE...Not Now!"
I couldn't deny it for long.  Yes I was a poor pregnant mother and after a month of denial I decided to figure out what will we do now
Not having money is difficult and people always blame poverty on poor womyn of color who bring children into this world to suffer or leach off the government.  At times I wanted an abortion or I would pray for a miscarriage so I wouldn't feel guilty. Guilt is such a draining feeling.
Life inside my womb kept growing.  No money. No job. I thought, maybe Conservatives are right, poor people should not have babies, but we do -HA!
My friend Kristina also pregnant and broke reminded me once "Well mujer, we are not the only broke people to give birth;we'll be okay."
So yes we are not the first broke parents to have children, not at all, not the first and not the last.
I decided to keep my baby, I already loved this life inside my womb and recognized it was my choice; at the time did not realize how difficult it will be.
Though I had chosen,  the negative thoughts kept flooding my mind and I could not stop them even if I tried.
What was I thinking?
Why didn't I protect myself?
How can I bring a baby into this world?
I'm broke....what can I offer this baby? We don't have anything!!
My hormones were out of control and so were my emotions.

I was Angry. Guilty. Sad. Depressed. Afraid. We didn't have any money and kept struggling. We received cash aid and my partner recycled metal and still did not make ends meet.We slept on the hard cold floor since we didn't have a mattress. There were times we didn't have running water or gas. We went  without electricity for over a month. It was difficult; I complained a lot and frustrated my partner.  He of course was also going through depression but manifested differently than I did.
I felt like I was drowning at times or slipping little by little beginning to get buried in quick sand.
Thoughts of ending my life and my oldest daughter’s as well populated my mind.  It felt like nobody cared about us. My thoughts had me believing we wouldn't survive anyway maybe we should end it here.  I fantasized about getting run over or jumping off the freeway or dying in our sleep.
My friends and some family members helped me a lot. They listened and provided some type of support such as ideas on how to cope. My friends Reyna and Sammy babysat or dragged me out of the house.  Bernie took me to acupuncture appointments or  out shopping for food. My sister Julie would me pick up and drove me out of my house. One time another good friend, Sofia helped my family by organizing friends to chip in and pay my rent; they also provided me with a mattress. Panquetzani gave us space for my family and I in her home for a while. Aubrey was there with me during the Kali Ma phase.  Felt very lucky that I had this much support from my friends, my partner on the other hand was another story.

My partner was not emotionally there for me, he was busy focusing on surviving to feel empathy for me, I felt that he didn't love me.   I was angry and sad at the same time,  feeling ugly and stupid.  He wasn't involved in the pregnancy as much as he was with my first. I would scream, fight, and cry a lot. Without realizing, I was trying to drag him to insanity with me.  He would lose it plenty of times and said I was spoiled since I grew up in a privileged country.  We had somewhere to live, even though we struggled to pay rent.  We had food, even though we received food stamps. He would always point out how we were lucky for not getting bombed like the women in Palestine.  These were all words that a depressed pregnant women should not hear.  Plus I wanted to be off food stamps and have a house with space to grow our own food...then I'd be happy.  Sometimes I would think, he is right we are rich and I am spoiled.  Others survive worst, we will survive this and life is Beautiful.  But every minute I changed my mind.  I was pregnant and an emotional wreck trying to find balance somewhere inside myself.
Sometimes I was reminded by my good friend Maria that unhappiness is not necessarily and "bad" thing; it is also part of life.  “Don't be afraid of the dark times,” she said “immerse yourself in them and be at peace”.  I started calling my depression my purple phase of chaos and reminded myself that only after chaos there is true peace.  I meditated and my mantra was "Immerse yourself in darkness to find the light."
Being poor and pregnant is tough because at this time you need love, security and peace.. I didn't feel any of that.  I  coped as best as I could and some people did support me.  I dragged myself outside sometimes, I would journal and draw my emotions into  paper.  Sometimes I danced or would drink warm tea and take deep breaths to gain some peace. What helped me the most was speaking to people about what I felt and receiving their much needed empathy.

My friends organized a mother's blessing for me; where I was honored as a mother.  They also organized my postpartum care (meals, babysitting, laundry, house work etc.)  above all they promised to always be there for our family in support.  Since that night my partner changed . Didn’t realize, because he kept it all in and was just as afraid as I was. After that night, surrounded by our loved ones he was relieved to see we were truly not alone.

After the  turmoil experienced during my pregnancy, I had an orgasmic birth with my partner and friends supporting me throughout labor and birth, and my oldest daughter nearby.  My postpartum phase was a wonderful time; people visited our home  not only to meet our newborn but also helped me with recovery.  I felt loved and I allowed myself to be bathed, fed, and taken care of by those that loved me.  This was immensely healing to feel so much community love. My self-love grew and so did my love for my family.  I was happy to be a mother again.
I share my story in attempts to help other mothers and pregnant womyn especially those facing economic difficulty so they see that survival and happiness is possible.  Through this story I shared my process, struggles, my support and strategies in  hopes they may help someone find help or sanity. It’s not easy to remember this, but we are not stuck and Money is not #1. We have something better: we are resourceful and hopeful, and to remember after chaos comes peace!

                             Speak up when you are down because you are not alone!!
A special thanks to my partner and children; we continue on our healing journey and doing so much better.  A very special thanks to my sisters from Ticicalli Yahualli, Classmates in Jumpstart Mental Health LA, Colleagues from LDIRs in Health, Echo Parenting and Education, Ana Paula Markel from BINI Birth, The Village Health Foundation, family, and many other friends. Whether you are aware of it or not, you were there for me during these challenging times and because of YOU I was able to pull myself out and  I am immensely grateful for this.  Much Love and Blessings to you ALL.