Over the last years of the pandemic, many (most? all?) of us have gone through times of isolation, when our webs of support felt sparse, and other moments where community emerged in new and unexpected ways. As many of us are now connecting more in person and growing our circles wider, I’ve been reflecting on community. I feel grateful for and inspired by the relationships we intentionally cultivate, and the unplanned connections that will sprout unexpectedly and grow over time.
Here are some stories from birth center staff about some of the beloved people in their villages – a reminder of all the creative and diverse ways in which we find and build community:
Almost a decade ago, I had the great joy and honor to be invited into someone else’s village. One of my first doula clients asked me to be the godparent for their second child. As a queer solo parent, their goal was to intentionally build a network of other adults who could provide practical support for them as a parent, was well as companionship and role models for their kids. This chosen family network has grown into one of the great gifts of my life, far beyond what I imagined when I agreed to attend this former client’s birth. I delight in an ever deepening relationship with my godkid (which lately involves learning a lot about pokemon!), and I’m grateful to learn from my walking alongside my now dear friend on their parenting journey. -Meagan Morse
This is a photo of donated breastmilk that I collected for my triplets. I am profoundly grateful for the selfless generosity of over 25 “milk moms” that kept these 3 supplied with breastmilk for over the first year of their lives. – Alisa Henning
For me, expanding my village to include my childrens’ teachers has been rewarding for me. By joining the PTA, going to meetings, and just asking teachers what help they need, I’ve been able to develop deeper relationships sharing the load and having the extra couple of minutes to communicate about my children. I feel I have been more connected to their school life, and been able to be quicker to respond when a need develops. So many times we let our children go to school and just ask how their day was. I am filled up when my kids see me in the library, or helping in their classrooms and they get a huge smile on their face. So few parents volunteer at our kids’ schools, and I encourage you to find any time you can to help. It helps the parents, the teachers, the staff and especially our children. – Erica Deerinwater
My daughter Quincy was hospitalized April-August of this year for a life-threatening illness. We truly almost lost her. She’s recovering now, learning to walk again and working to return to regular life. It has been a dark and terrible and scary time, and also, a time filled with desperate need of my village. During this time, our family, friends and co-workers (whom I consider my chosen family), acquaintances, and people we’d never met before all came together and fed us, gave gifts and survival items, sent words of love and sympathy, and were generally just there for us. Her medical team was astonishingly amazing and actively saved her life a dozen or more times. Those who have chosen to give their lives and talents to medicine are heroes.
The generosity and kindness we received were and are still overwhelming. I’ve never felt so weak and needy, and when I stumbled and collapsed, someone kind was always there to hold me, cry with me, and help me back up. I can’t properly express my gratitude, but I know I’d be a different person right now without that support. I’d be broken.
As a therapist and teacher, I’ve always told people that there is something to be proud of and something to be grateful for in every situation. How little I’ve truly understood this before now… My daughter just had her 15th birthday, and I’m so proud of her and so grateful for her that it makes me cry every time I think of it. I’m proud of myself, too. But the gratitude I feel for my village is a balancing force, and feels powerful and massive. Truly, our village saved us in many ways. If you’re someone who was kind to us during that time, please know every kindness mattered. After everything, I feel so lucky. The good people in this world are many, and the heroes walk among us. Life is a miracle, and it’s made beautiful by our connections. I’m so grateful for mine. – Laura Wood
In July of 2008, our developing birth center had its first fundraiser, years before we were able to open. Alisa and I were already business partners and worked at Lovelace at the time. Our midwife colleague Linda Johnson was a singer/songwriter and played our first fundraiser at Winnings Coffee. All of this support helped shape us into who we are today. And I’ve had amazing support from Alisa for all of these years. I’m indebted to her for her hard work and dedication and for coming back, full circle. – Abigail Lanin Eaves
We have all heard the saying, “it takes a village…” In my time here at Dar A Luz I have witnessed time and time again how it ‘takes a village’ to guide our sweet little babies earthside. The amount of support and love I see each and every day with the families we work with, and amongst my most amazing coworkers, really shows how true that statement is. It would be so much harder to bring your baby into this world and raise them to adulthood without the support of your friends, family, and chosen family. It also ‘takes a village’ to support your birth workers! We could not provide the amazing space for you to birth your babies without the support and love from our amazing team at Dar A Luz. And yes, I am biased, but we have the best team of coworkers ever! I definitely find this statement to be true when it comes to raising my own kids as well. They have a vast network of family, ‘aunties’ and close family friends that are chosen family, and I 100% know that I could not have raised such special and magical little humans without my community!
I am so incredibly thankful for the presence of each and every one of you in my life! -Love, Claire Merritt
My first decade of motherhood was profoundly influenced by the close proximity of my sister, Shelley Moore Thomas, who is also a beloved children’s book author, elementary educator, and the famous “Story Queen.” She had her first baby and then 10 months later I had my first baby, and that kept alternating between us for 10 years to where we had 5 stair-stepped kiddos in ages (all daughters) who grew up together. Our husbands were very involved in all the children’s things and became the best of friends, so that was a bonus. But, my sister and I shared managing the back-and-forth of all the daily things we all have to face as parents who want to be fully present for their children and who also want to simultaneously continue on with meaningful work in careers that make a difference. We shared together in childcare, family meals, transportation to-and-from all the kid’s activities, so much more, all done with an ease that seemed to require no planning sometimes, just the shared commitment to SHARE in it all. -Susan Moore Daniels
Meagan Morse, CNM, WHNP
I grew up outside Washington, DC and studied the history of medicine in college, focusing on gender and racial justice. After graduation, a homebirth midwifery practice generously took me under their wing, and I realized I had found my path! I was struck by the partnerships these midwives built with clients, and by the autonomy-centered, personally connected, and deeply respectful care they provided — this is how I wanted to be in the world as a human and as a healer.
In the years that followed, I grew my love for midwifery and built my toolkit while working as a sexual health educator and full-spectrum doula. In 2017, I began my training as a student midwife at the birth center Maternidad La Luz in El Paso, TX, providing care mostly in Spanish. I continued my studies at the University of California San Francisco, and graduated in 2020 with a Master’s degree in Midwifery and Women’s Health. During the program, I had the great joy of completing a majority of my clinical hours at the local birth center in Berkeley, CA.
I am over-the-moon excited to be a part of the Dar a Luz team. I believe that pregnancy and birth are a time of transformation with potential for healing and empowerment. It is an honor and joy to accompany people on these journeys, whatever path they take. I am committed to building a healthcare system that addresses health disparities faced by marginalized communities and is inclusive of all people and families. I am a member of the American College of Nurse Midwives Transgender Care Working Group, and facilitate a virtual support group for LGBTQIA+ families from preconception through parenting.
My partner and I live in Albuquerque, where we enjoy hiking, gardening, and spending time with our pet cockatiels, Sweetcheeks and Moe.