Aquay | Greetings
I’m Ahna, an Indigenous-Shinnecock woman and mother of two. My roots and homelands are located here on the Stony Shores of Eastern Long Island, New York. It’s important to me that I share the basic reasonings behind embarking on my journey as a Full Spectrum Indigenous Birth Worker in 2019:
I graduated Southampton High School in 2014, later attending Cazenovia College in 2014. I majored in Inclusive Early Childhood Education for a year and a half, before I leaving college and returning home to birth my first born.
My pregnancy was a smooth one physically, but not so much emotionally, mentally and spiritually. A lot unraveled during the first and second trimesters. LUCKILY, I had a great support system through family and my close ones. I kept myself active and healthy. I chose not to find out baby’s gender until she or he arrived. I expressed that I wanted to explore my options for a home/water birth. That was the moment my birthing experience went completely downhill - I was encouraged to have a hospital birth because it was deemed ‘safer’ for myself and baby, had there been any complications.
Long story short, I had a traumatic labor and delivery when I birthed in the hospital. I didn’t have a common exterior vagina tear, I tore up to my cervix and hemorrhaged on the delivery table. In later years of researching and becoming intrigued by birth workers, midwives and their works, I found out that this is actually common in Black and Indigenous women’s birth stories.
The causes of maternal death globally…is hemorrhaging.
Thankfully my doctor was able to problem solve the situation, but there was a lot of trauma that lingered in my body and mind for years. Even though I created and carried life in my body. Even though I birthed my son naturally and nourished him from my bosom and pushed myself through my body’s recovery.
Five to be exact. Thoughts boiled inside the back of my mind until I decided to turn my trauma into beauty. I wanted to help guide new life earth side, while healing my personal traumas. It’s too often that we experience traumatic births in hospitals. How could I contribute to stopping that? My path shifted and I was well on my way.
I discovered a Full Spectrum Indigenous Doula training in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) hosted by Zaagi’idiwin : non-profit organization led by an Indigenous Midwife and Doula. A true powerhouse! It was probably one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve had the opportunity to attend. I was accepted amongst a handful of other women. I crowd-fundraised to make my newfound dream a reality, then returned to Shinnecock in January of 2019 as a trained Full Spectrum Indigenous Birth Worker. I started serving my community in May of 2019 and haven’t stopped since! To date I’ve attended four births of Indigenous mothers and families.
Although still disturbs me to relive and share my story, it’s been an inspiration for me to speak my truth, educate and bring awareness to the importance of knowing your birth options and rights, give tools and resources to be strong minded in decisions, most importantly : the consideration in the fact that we’ve been birthing our own bodies for thousands of years before modern medicine made its mark on us.