The Beginnings...

*Trigger Warning: Beware, my story may get a little intense.
Pregnancy Photoshoot

Aquay | Greetings

I am Ahna, a young woman and mother of Shinnecock. My roots and my homelands are located on the Stony Shores in Eastern Long Island, New York. Below you will read my story, It's important for me to share it with you all, so you can understand why I've embarked on this journey:

In 2014 I walked across the stage and received my High School Diploma. Earlier that year I was accepted to attend Cazenovia College in upstate New York, to study Inclusive Early Childhood Education. This would allow me to work with children from birth to 2nd grade. My dream was to become an educator and return home to teach my tribal territory. It felt like I completed my Freshman year in the snap of fingers.

In the beginning of my sophomore year, I was surprised to find out that I was creating and carrying life within me. I was encouraged to push through getting my education up until it was time to birth. However, it became too difficult for me to constantly travel back and forth from school to home, alone, between doctors appointments and breaks. i ended up taking a medical withdrawal. i came home and worked up until the week prior my due date, may 10th, 2016.

My pregnancy was a smooth one physically, but not so much emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. a lot had unraveled during the 1st and 2nd trimesters. luckily, my family was my greatest support system. i kept myself active and healthy. my baby was very active with a strong heartbeat, too. i chose not to find out what baby's gender was, until she or he arrived. i expressed to my doctor that i wanted to explore a home/water birth. i was told that because this was my 1st born, it would be safer to birth in the hospital - had there been any complications.

may 10th rolled around quickly. according to my last doctors appointment, i was a good 3.5 centimeters dilated. i wasn't feeling any symptoms that indicated it was time, though. may 11th, still no signs of labor. that day i decided to take a walk along the ocean. i walked barefoot in the cool sand for a mile and a half. may 12th. 4:30am. i had back labor with every contraction that only grew stronger as the clock ticked. we checked into the local hospital around 7:30am.

my mom, younger sister, and I got settled in and they immediately began monitoring baby. i asked that no epidural was given to me at any point, no matter what! my wishes were accepted. the hours went by and my contractions and back labor intensified. i spent the duration of my labor laying on my back. i wasn't allowed to move. the nurse stated that they needed to monitor baby because with each contraction, the heartbeat was decreasing more than it should have been. i was suffering in excruciating pain with nowhere to go or move for almost 5 hours.

then.....i felt my baby move into position in my birth canal. i told the doctors that i need to push now! they told me no, it wasn't time yet. my body was telling me it was ready to deliver. whenever i expressed how my body was feeling and what my symptoms were, i seem to be dismissed.

A sudden wave of doctors and nurses flooded the delivery room. i'm being told to push. i'm pushing. my baby was having difficulty making its way out. 'If baby doesn't come out within the next few pushes, we need to use the vacuum.' i pushed and pushed. he finally made his 1st appearance into the world. they put him on my chest so we could have skin to skin.

our first moments together in our new lives got cut short.

less then 2 minutes.

i began hemorrhaging on the delivery table. he was taken from my arms. doctors and nurses tried to control the bleeding and keep the energy in the room calm. they tried to prep and OR. they made a call to get an anesthesiologist into the hospital ASAP. the plan was to sedate me to repair my injuries. it was going to take 20 minutes - half an hour for them to arrive on site. in the distance i could hear the doctor telling the anesthesiologist over the phone: we don't have that kind of time.

Instead, they pumped pain meds into my Iv. i was so woozy that I couldn't even hold the life I had just gave birth to. my mom had to stand bedside with him. after a while they finally got the bleeding under control. upon delivery of my 6LB 11oz baby, i tore up to my cervix. whatever was in my Iv had me so out of it. i was exhausted. all was done. everyone filed out of the delivery room except fo my sister. i remember hearing them stroll my newborn son away as i was drifting in and out of sleep.

later we settled into our room.

i was in pain. i couldn't walk or stand in good posture. i popped just about every blood vessel in both of my eyes. they massaged my empty womb and checked my vaginal bleeding every few hours. the nurses asked me if i would like opioids for the pain, i declined and settled for motrin. i wanted to be able to fully enjoy my 1st born and every moment as we began our new journey together.

the months following Kusthâusha Wussin's birth were rough. i was in constant discomfort while my body was healing from my birth traumas. heart and spirit were full - i created and carried life in my body. i birthed my (1st born) son naturally, nourished him from my bosom and pushed through recovery.

Kutshâusha Wussin T.

Unfortunately to this day, almost three years later, it still disturbs me to relive and share my story. It was the most traumatic experience I've encountered in my 23 years of life. Not only did it scar's been an inspiration for me to speak my truth. to educate and bring awareness to the importance of knowing your birth options. to motivate others to speak up for themselves and their rights. to give them tools and resources to be stronger minded than those that push them into thinking 'this is what is best for your body and baby.' to have them take into consideration the fact that we've been birthing our own babies for thousands of years before modern medicine made its mark on us.

my traumas have aspired me to take a huge interest and steps towards becoming and indigenous birth worker (doula). I know the feeling of being lonely and without a partner, heartbroken, young and scared, anxiety filled, and impatient. i also know how it feels to grow and shape into a seasoned person from once being shattered.

my son helped me regain the strength that I lost sight of.

In turn, it feels right for me to offer my strength and support for other mothers in any and all ways that i can. my dream has shifted from wanting to teach children, to wanting to help in nurturing their growth in the womb and guiding them as they make their way into this world.

Zaagi'idiwin's Logo
I originally planned to go to a Mainstream Doula Training in new York City, which is only a short car ride from me. Then I came across Zaagi'idiwin (love). It's an Indigenous Midwife and Doula operated organization. After following their work closely this past year, i decided that this was going to be my training of choice because it fits the demographic of my own indigenous community and Algonquian culture/traditions.
Zaagi'idiwin means 'love' in the Anishinaabe language. Their Indigenous led organization strives to center Indigenous people as the experts of Maternal Newborn Health in their communities. They believe in building capacity through providing culturally based education and teachings about our bodies, healthy sexuality, and reproductive health.
they specialize in training Full Spectrum Indigenous Doulas, as well as offering a variety of other trainings and workshops, facilitated by Indigenous Midwife Melissa brown and Indigenous Doula Candace Neumann.
Their services include: full spectrum indigenous doula training, prenatal, birth and postpartum support, harm reduction and trauma informed care, breastfeeding support and education, supporting indigenous fathers, consultant services.
Heart Berry pins filled with medicines.
Zaagi'idiwin (love) provided a Full spectrum Indigenous Doula Training in Winnipeg, Manitoba from January 17th to 20th, 2019.
It was facilitated by Indigenous Midwife, Melissa Brown, and Indigenous Doula, Candace Neumann. I created a gofundme campaign, sharing my story and motivation to bring this birth work back to my community on the Stony Shores of Shinnecock, Long Island, New York. 
I submitted my application and got chosen for 1 of the seats to attend. I raised over $2,000 to cover my travel costs to winnipeg....Then I embarked on my Birth Work Journey:
I flew into Minnesota then took a road trip up to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
I was hosted by a dear friend that I've followed someone on social media for (literally) years - her and her partner welcomed me into their home as hosts.
I'm beyond grateful to have shared 4 days with such beautiful women from all walks of life. my heart is full and bursting with love and light from all of the teachings and stories that have been shared.
Thank you Zaagi'idiwin, for bringing space for our people to hold as they reclaim their rights of passage - you all are doing much needed work! I'm glad to say that I had the opportunity to be involved.
I am now settled back in my homelands on the Stony Shores of Shinnecock.
I will be doing all that I'm able to spread Zaagi'idiwin (LOVE) inside and outside of my community with
Wuttahminneoh Birth Work.