Thursday, March 26, 2015

Reflections on my midwifery journey

Into these Hands. Amy Swagman. 2010.

Just a year ago I started my fundraising campaign to complete the initial tuition fee for my midwifery program. Whoa! Coming up with my tuition from love donations, scholarships and prayers from my family & friends has been such a blessing. A true surreal experience! I am so humbled by all the support & love that my gente has and still to this day provides me. In May 2014, I became officially enrolled at the National College of Midwifery, Class of 2017.

For those who know me intimately know the love, sweat and tears, hard work, community support and prayers it has taken me to get me to where I am today. I didn’t choose midwifery, midwifery chose me. It’s been an ancestral calling that only gets deeper every single moment of my life.  And looking back to 2009 when this journey began manifesting, I now see how it is one of the best journeys that I can ever surrender to.
  I have two more years to go before I can sit for my licensing exam with the Medical board of California. I can only imagine how I will feel when I reach my completion in 2017. I realized that to truly be the midwife that I am called to be, it will take my whole life time. One birth, one family, one healing session at a time, I know I will get there.

Here is what I have learned thus far:

I am so grateful I took my time in choosing a midwifery program. It literally took me years, before I finally found a program that felt right for me. Choosing a midwifery program is like getting married. I consulted with most of the schools in this country. To get more insight information, I talked to different midwives, midwifery students and clients. I crossed referenced, read up on my laws, cost of tuition, etc. I found that the apprenticeship was the closest to the traditional way of learning with the combination of college level academic curriculum.

 There is real power in believing 100% in what your higher self sees.Understanding that the “Universe always provides,” has been a challenging lesson for me. I come from real humble beginnings, always finding ways to make life work for us. Growing up and even on a genetic level, I was imprinted with “we don’t have enough.” I have had to stubbornly heal from this “scarcity mentality.” I would like to thank all my healing arts teachers for this! Because the universe only knows the love and patience they needed to have to hold space for me. So now instead of “ I don’t have enough” or “ I can’t do this because of x,y,z,” I say to myself “ I am doing it” and “ I will find a way to make it happen” or “ All in due time.” Focusing my energy on what I already have and putting in the work to manifest magic with a sprinkle of prayer, I am finding ways to flow with the waves of this midwifery program.
Birth ain’t pretty sometimes! There are some intense issues that can come up in pregnancy, labor, birth & postpartum. I’ve seen some wild stuff. I see how it’s all part of the process. After all, I am training to be a midwife, so that means that need treat & prevent and know when to refer out for medical complications. There was literally a month, where I had a lot of consults for miscarriages. It was the trippiest thing. I’m grateful for having strong counseling skills, because I was able to hold space for them.
My heart goes out to you if you have experienced a loss. May the universe fill you with a lot of love to help you heal and transform. <3

Self-care, Self-care, and more Self-care! I can continue doing this work as long I am healthy, full of vitality and grounded. Otherwise I would be a disservice to myself and the families I am supporting. I am still learning how to balance work and self- care, but I try my hardest to take good care of my-self. I have my rituals that I do before, during and after a birth to keep me grounded and with an open heart. This all helps me to endure the long hours being up without sleep, or even food sometimes. Thank goodness for Self-care.

I can keep going on and on about what I have learned. For now, I am content with what I am sharing with you. Now, I have to go pick up a placenta to encapsulate for a beautiful mama warrior.  Thank you for reading my reflections.

Link to AlterNative Birthing Ways Webinar

If you missed the live broadcast of our AlterNative Birthing Ways Webinar, you can still view it on our YouTube playlist by clicking the link below.

Video 1 is the final edit of the webinar itself, without the Q&A period.
Video 2 is the live broadcast along with the on-air Q&A session.

Feel free to share with your family and friends.

-For Educational Purposes.

Playlist link: AlterNative Birthing Ways Webinar Playlist

Thank you all for your support!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Honoring Our Sacred Journey to Mictlan

After working as a birth doula for 5 years, I am now able to provide support in another great transition the beginning and the end in this earth.  I am a Certified Death Doula and and am currently receiving education to become Certified Death Midwife. My experience with the birth of my daughters & death of my Grandmother has allowed me to see the beauty in the sacred transitions from womb to tomb. Both are scary since you dive into the unknown but also beautiful and sacred.  The spirits coming and going...the cycle of life...our spirit's rebirth...lifecarriesdeathcarrieslife and on and on and on. Never ending spirals.

I am excited to be on this journey and be able to provide to my community an affordable and dignified way to die in this world and honor the spirit that is reborn in Mictlan while providing a celebration of life to those left living here on earth. I believe we should have choices and sacredness in birth and death it should NOT be so expensive, it should Not be so destructive to the earth, and it should NOT feel so detached and in the hands of "professionals." Let us take it back and make it sacred again!!  Death is a sacred part of life it should be honored not feared.

As a Death Midwife I would like to: honor the transition into the spirit world; minimize fear for the person transitioning & family members and provide affordable & Eco-friendly burial options. I am doing this not only for myself but for you, my community....for all of you that are seeking for sacredness and support in these often challenging transitions.  Please ask me questions, start a dialogue about death with family and friends, think about how you would like your life celebrated, live as if it were your last day on earth, and feed your spirit every breath you take.

Stay tuned more death talk and workshops coming up.

My death poem:
We are spirals of love
Spirits coming and going
No beginning nor end

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AlterNative Birthing Ways Community Forum

We hope you enjoyed the webinar...

Please post all your questions and comments here... We will answer them ASAP!!

Link to our AlterNative Birthing Ways Webinar...Broadcasting now!!

Join the hangouts webinar!!

Click here:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Sharing Our Birth Stories Community Space". Ep.1 . Featuring Jessica Ortega.

In our journey as mothers, birth workers and as a collective we have discovered that sharing stories has incredible healing power. Birth stories are not only powerful accounts of a sacred rights of passage. They are also beautiful life lessons that reflect the truth of our reality and a unique experience on Earth. 
As an offering to our community, we are proud to announce that we are sharing our blog as a community space where families can share their birth stories and not only enlighten us about their experience but to inspire us to normalize and honor childbirth and all aspects of parenthood and family building.
The following story is shared by Jessica Ortega from San Diego, CA.
We named her story:
"La llegada de la Luna/When the Moon arrived"
Birth is such a magical moment in life and I am already feeling all sorts of uplifted and natural highs just thinking about how the time has finally come where there is a sacred space for brown womyn to share our birth stories. So aqui va mi grano de arena y nuestra historia que hace parte del gran tejido que es la vida:

I have always feltin my heart that I wanted to be someone's mami. I wanted to be able to do so many of the things that my mami did with me with my own seed one day. I wanted to make avena in the mornings with my seed, have life talks, ride my bike with a baby strapped on, take my seed to Oaxaca, be gypsy with a little person by my side, and just experience everything that comes with motherhood.

The day finally came true during the fall season of 2013. My partner and I rode our bikes with a beautiful full moon guiding us through Barrio Logan and bought two pregnancy tests. Within the next minutes, my whole life changed. I went to bed that night, a few days before my 27th birthday knowing, that I had una semillita de amor y esperanza en mi pansita. I was riding high on my wavelength through the universe knowing that soon enough I would be someone's mami. Estaba bien contenta!!! Y a la vez no lo podia creer!

Thankfully, I had a very fluid and healthy pregnancy. I loved watching my body transform and showing my pansita off. I loved telling people that I was having a little girl and that I was going to name her Luna Pakari. Pakari significa amanecer en kichwa, el idioma de la gente con la cual yo comparti los tres meses mas transformativos de mi vida. Una comunidad que vive bien adentro de la selva en Ecuador. Ellos viven en la mera madre selva.

I knew right away that I wanted nothing to do with hospitals or doctors. I saw a baby being born in the rainforest and the peace that that brave, fearless, wombyn warrior had when she gave birth stuck with me. That night as I watched her birth her second child with such determination and love made me want to become a mom in that instant!!! I couldn't wait to feel what she was feeling. To look down and see life emerging between my legs.

Thanks to my college education, I had a job that DIDN'T offer benefits! So, there I was looking for birth centers that accepted Medical or "alternative" ways of birthing. What I really wanted to do was go to Ecuador, chill my kichwa girls, have one of them be my midwife, and then come back with a jungle baby. But since I was in SD with a partner and whole family saying no I can't do that, I went with a birth center.

Once again, thankfully, I had a very happy and uncomplicated pregnancy. I already knew that the due date meant nothing and that my semillita would come when she wanted but I also didn't know that she would stay in for 42 weeks!! I remember being a little frustrated because I didn't know which natural remedy to try anymore so I could induce labor. My loving and patient mom always told me, " Mija, los ninos vienen cuando ellos quieren. Cuando estan listos." Y yo le decia, "Si mami, ya se, pero.." Jeje um, hello 42 weeks?? jeje

Then on  Friday night my waters broke as we we were laying in bed watching a movie. My neighbors were having a tremenda rumba and I was like, "Camilo!!!!" se me rompio la fuente!" I felt so nervous for the unknown! Nervous about how long it would last, would I be able to stay calm, how would I deal with the rushes, just so many thoughts.

My first real rush was around 4:30 am. I said Wow! now this is labor! I called my mom around 7am and told her that I was in labor. She got to our house an hour later and never left my side. The intensity went up as the hours passed and around noon we visited the birth center. My midwife checked me and said I was only 3 centimeters dialated!! After 8 hours of rushes that was it??? I didn't cry or yell. But inside I was on the verge of losing my shit. I allowed myself to have an internal panic attack for about one minute but then I got into my wombyn warrior spirit again and we went home. At this point I was NOT talking. Haha, it's really funny when I think about it now because I'm only quiet if I'm sad or pissed but I was neither!

At home in my tiny cottage of love , my two best friends got there and what I vividly remember of their presence is my friend Karli's outfit. Where was she going all cute?! Haha. I also remember my mom making them egg sanwhiches!! Cause I only had eggs in my fridge! The way i dealt with the rushes that at this point were five to ten minutes apart was by walking around, taking hot showers, not talking, staying inside myself, and having personal conversations with my other me, I and I.

Around seven pm I decided that I needed to see the midwife. I felt deep inside of me that I had dilated more, but I really had no idea. When she checked me she said I was about 6 or 7!!! Yaya, I could stay at the birth center. I got in the birthing tub and immediately felt better and more relaxed because I knew I was closer to pushing and meeting Lunita.

The rushes at this point were beyond this world! I could not believe the intensity. I could literally feel my insides expanding. But I knew that with every contraction came a break. I kept thinking, " Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry."

Eventually day turned to night and with night came a soft rain in August!! I remember hearing the rain and feeling so blessed by Pachamama for giving the world rain on the night my baby moon would be born. I am now in love with summer rain. I loved my midwife because she did exactly what I unconsciously wanted her to do, not intervene. She was present but the whole time she just allowed me to do my thing, flow with my own energy, follow my own direction, and only spoke about three times during the whole birth!

The environment was very fluid and calming. I have never felt so loved and protected as I did that day. I was not afraid and it was thanks to my friends and family who were there. There was just so much love!

The midwife told me that it was time to push and whoa was that a surprise! I thought pushing would be like ten minutes but I pushed for almost an hour. I was really tired. Again I had to get it wombyn warrior spirit and motivate myself to keep going.To not give up. I thought about the kichwa women, how resilient they are, I looked at my mom, I saw my friends, brother, niece, dad, and thought ok, si se puede! I knew that I couldn't give up then, being so close and I knew I was about to meet my magical baby moon.

As the head crowned I remember the sensation of what is called the ring of fire. My vagina felt on fire! I thought, " Jessica if you want this burning to stop you better PUSH!" and then the stars aligned, the world stopped for a second, and out came Luna Pakari Aristizabal-Ortega eight pounds and eleven ounces after seventeen hours of natural, unmedicated labor welcomed into the world by her abuelitos, tio, prima, tias, papi y mami. Seven people saw her enter earthside. I'll never, ever forget those little eyes that met mine as she was being put on my chest. I fell in love instantly!!! she became my number one the second I learned about her existence during that one full moon night in November. My love for her continues to grow and evolve and the more I get to know her each day, the harder in love I fall for her!! I love her spirit,her being, all that she is and every day I thank the great spirit, all that is, our sacred ancestors, and life for giving me the blessing of birthing naturally, without fear, and for allowing me to be her mami.

Muchas gracias por dejarme compartir mi historia. Fue una terapia para mi poder desahogar estos sentimientos y compartirlos.

Infinitas bendiciones,
Jessica Ortega


Monday, March 16, 2015

MUJERES DE MAIZ - Calendar of Events

This season's Mujeres De Maiz (MDM) event series has kicked off with some very empowering and informative events that inspire us all to see the strength we share collectively and to keep moving forward together. Thinking together. Planning together for a better future for us all.
We invite you to check out MDM's website to view their mission, mercado, event calendar and additional sources. You may also make a donation to help them continue to develop workshops and art programming for the community.
Gracias, Mujeres De Maiz. Por crear este bello espacio collectivo!
Mujeres de Maiz 2015: Mother/Madre
A Season of Intercultural, Interdisciplinary, Tranformational &
Holistic Artivist Happenings to honor Womyn in Mind, Body & Spirit.
Programming is collaboration with various collectives & organizations across the Eastside to commemorate International Womyn’s Day, Womyn’s Herstory Month, Spring Equinox and Mexica New Year.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mujeres De Maiz **Spring 2015**

March is here!! And the MUJERES DE MAIZ Spring 2015 events are here too!
It all starts today with Full Moon Coyolxauhqui Circle in Hollenbeck Park at 8pm. 
May we all set the best intentions forth this full moon and with the guidance of Coyolxauqui, accomplish collective goals. ❤
For more information and updates please check out