When I worked in the hospital, resuscitating patients was a normal, often daily, part of the work. While, no doubt, you've seen CPR done in movies or Gray's Anatomy (I'm a fan!), it's not as 'simple' as all that. Squeezing an unbeating heart back into sinus rhythm by compressing it between the chest wall and the back requires a significant amount of force - and the bigger the patient, the more force required. It's not something one can sustain indefinitely. I can do about 3 straight minutes before being unable to move my arms any longer. It's strenuous. And emotional. And intense. So when we're resuscitating a patient, the doctors in the room form a line. When the doctor doing the CPR can't keep going any longer, they call it out, give a 3-2-1 countdown, step away, and the next in line seamlessly steps in to take over.
We move to the back of the line. We rest. We step up again. Rinse and repeat as needed.
This is really how it works. I've done it more times than I can count.
And it's also a metaphor. For now.
There's hard work happening right now - some of you have been doing this hard work your whole life because the color of your skin has demanded it. Deep respect to you. I'm listening. Learning.
Some of you are showing up at protests, being medics, doing the painful inner work of uncovering your biases. It's hard. Less hard than living with racism as your whole-life-experience, but hard. Brava if you're doing it.
Some of you are new to resistance or to understanding why we can't just say ALL lives matter - that we have to stand behind BLACK LIVES MATTER. In every aspect that life is unsafe for any woman, it's exponentially more unsafe for black women, from pregnancy and childbirth to going into the hospital with chest pain - or any pain.
If, however, this isn't something you understand, this article can help you. And check out my recent IGTV episode with my first midwifery mentor, the "Queen Mother of Midwifery," Shafia Monroe to learn more about the impact of racism on black mothers and babies.
2020 has been nothing short of just about every human emotion possible: shock, awe, fear, anger, frustration, overwhelm, despair, grief, rage, confusion, just to name a few. For some of my readers - perhaps you - based on your life circumstances - or the color of your skin - these emotions - and others - may be as familiar as your name. For some of you, COVID-19 has brought loss - loss of expectations, safety, connection, joy, support, perhaps you've even lost someone close to you. I have colleagues and friends who have. It's been a nightmare. And again, still worse of a nightmare for those who are black and brown.
My commitment is to be here with you and respond to what's going on in the world around us, and in your life, to the extent I can by trying to understand how the world is impacting you and your loved ones, and to the extent that you let me know - especially over on my social media pages where I check read and respond to comments daily. It''s a commitment to provide you with a space that is always safe, that nourishes you as a woman, because as the world turns - and churns - and yearns - for something new and better (at least I hope everyone here does), women's bodies, minds, hearts, souls, still need care. Fibroids don't just up and walk away. Endometriosis doesn't just say hey, not a good time? I'll come back later! And you still deserve to enjoy the joys of pregnancy and motherhood honored, your losses fully acknowledged, and your wounds tended and healed, rather than your emotions being lost or drowned in the current collective emotions. And you still have questions that need answering.
So while my little team and I will continue to do the inner and outer work we do to make sure that our business is an ongoing living example of equity and racial and reproductive justice (you can read some of the specifics of what we do here in this Instagram post), we will also be resuming our women's health focus - the day to day needs of being in women's bodies - and I will be doing this with a widened lens to be more fully inclusive of the needs of all of the various beautiful shades and colors of women in this community - your unique and also universal concerns.
Nourishing Radical Resilience
Back to CPR. The resistance work needs to keep happening until the system changes and everyone is safe and respected. But for any one person, without replenishment, it's not sustainable. Resistance is hard hard work. And COVID has been draining.
We all need rest, and permission to rest, and we need to know that there are many in line to do the work, so we can rotate and replenish. We need to be able to still listen to our bodies and continue to care for ourselves. If we burn out and can no longer resist, and then the system has won in yet another way. I believe this is the self-care Audre Lorde referred to when she said it was an essential act of civil disobedience.
To stay resistant, we have to intentionally nourish resilience to avoid burnout - and also keep our immune system strong and resistant in its own way. While herbs can't change the society we're living in, they are part of the original medicine we can turn to for support in these times - especially the adaptogens like ashwagandha and holy basil that literally support stress resilience, and medicinal mushrooms like reishi and maitake for immunity.
You can use lemon balm, chamomile, and lavender for anxiety and stress, passionflower or skullcap for sleep, or kava kava for in--the-moment anxiety or panic. And remember to take magnesium and B-complex for adrenal, mind, and mood support, and Vitamin D for immunity.
You can learn all about these herbs on my website: search for adaptogens, medicinal mushrooms, anxiety, and sleep. Those articles will give you doses and instructions, and tell you what's safe/not safe in pregnancy and while BF'ing.
How to Protest and Still Protect Yourself
Did you know that tear gas is actually a powder, and that wearing sunscreen can make tear gas particles stick to your skin, making it harder to wash off and increasing the risk of burns? That coughing from tear gas increases the risk of COVID-19 spread? Or that at protests there are legal aid people there prepared to defend you and help you post bail should you get arrested? Did you know that street medics are being targeted by police, physically assaulted and tear gassed in PEACEFUL PROTESTS? And did you know that during times of war, soldiers aren't allowed to attack medics. It's in the Geneva Convention!
Right now, I'm hearing from a lot of people, especially those in their 20s and 30s (including some in my family!) that being at protests feels like an incredibly important part of contributing to the social change that so desperately needs to happen to change a society build on a foundation of racism and oppression to one that is just and equitable. Indeed, protest has been an important and effective vehicle for social change. If you are unfamiliar with how, watch the movie Selma.
But protesting isn't for the faint of heart - and it does carry risks to your personal safety. For those of you who are taking on this struggle as your own - and showing up on the front lines to protest or provide medical care, it's important to know how - and remember - to protect yourself. So, I wanted to share a few of the resources out there to help you protect yourself individually if you are a protestor, or as a medic.
See this quick and informative downloadable infographic from Amnesty International
See this free street medic guide
Read this article about street medics
It's an honor to be here with you in this time - and always. Thank you for continuing to read my words, for writing to me and sharing your lives. I wish you and yours peace, power, strength, support and safety, and I look forward to enjoying the better world we are creating - together.