Sunday Morning ~ New Adventures

Sunday Morning ~ New Adventures

Galu wamkota sakandira pa cabe.~ An old dog does not dig where there is nothing to be found.

~Chewa proverb

April 30, 2023

Hi Everyone,

I recently learned I got the Fulbright I applied for and will be going back to Malawi for a year. I’ll start teaching there again in January; I am happy, relieved, and very excited! It was months of nail biting waiting to hear, and I’d convinced myself (for self-preservation) that I’d be rejected. I made a list of other things to do for a satisfying final act to my career. When the email came saying there was a message for me on the portal I was shaking so badly I could barely type in my password. A bit of a thrill-seeker, there’s an edge that feels both terrible and wonderful. It could go either way. I’ve had both extremes of exhilaration and crushing disappointment and was preparing for either…sort of. I kept telling myself it would be okay if I didn’t get it, but that was a lie. It would not have been okay and I knew it. When I saw the word “Congratulations” I jumped up from the chair yelling “I got it!, I got it!!” and had a hard time sitting to read the actual message. I really wanted this. I’m so happy.  

I’ve been in a bizarre professional limbo the past few years as the pandemic shifted so many aspects of life. With gratitude for all the opportunities I’ve had, I’ve been struggling to mold it into a neat package for a graceful transition to retirement. I didn’t feel done. The midwifery ward project I’ll be part of is something I believe in with all my soul. I’ve been desperate to get back there to work on it and felt like this was my last chance. The model is something we need here and if there is any way the seed can be sown, if we can somehow replicate what is started in Malawi, a million good things can come of it.

I listened this morning to a woman tell her story of having to approach death in order to receive the care she needed. This insanity, along with stories of daily mass shootings, makes me crumble inside. Watching what is happening to women in our country I feel an odd combination of outrage and exhilaration. This will turn the tide. It will take work, but the tide will turn with this flagrant abuse of human rights. I thought it couldn’t get worse ten years ago and we’re in territory I had never even considered before. I’m sorry for those sacrificed in the process, the needless deaths of innocent people. I ask myself what my role I should play to make a difference.  

We had legislation swiftly moving through congress in 2021 that would improve access to care for women and allocate money for midwifery education. But now with republicans in control of the house, the bill sits there. I get that legislation is messy and takes time, but my God. The next election must sweep the republicans out completely. Let this be their downfall. We need to repeat this as often as we can on whatever platform we have. Republicans are killing women.

Last month I was part of a birthing justice webinar with two other women, one of whom had a terrible experience in our system, her race being a major factor. Black women have triple the risk of dying in childbirth in our country and her story was a powerful example of how education, empowerment, and midwifery care can make a difference. She advocated for herself, sought out doula and midwifery care, and ended up emotionally traumatized but physically healthy and ready to become part of the solution. The three of us presented again last week to Mano en Mano, an organization advocating for farmworkers and immigrants in Maine, and again, she told her story. She is an educated woman, a strong advocate for others, and has access to resources. Yet, doctors tried to coerce her into agreeing to a procedure she did not need and used her race as rationale. As I listened to her tell her story a particular line took my breath away. She described her feelings of confusion and vulnerability and asked herself, “What was it about my non-white body that was going to fail me?” Yes, I thought, this universal human right, freedom from coercion, is violated regularly all over our country and women are dying from it. The standard “informed consent” is false and misleading. It doesn’t describe the harm our system has done to women. It does not describe the compromised care marginalized communities are forced to accept. It does not describe the inherent racism of their caregivers. Instead, it describes increased risk as if their race is the problem. The problem is us. It is our system. It is what we’ve done to her. 

 I get overwhelmed with what we are facing. I get discouraged by what is happening to my profession. I’ve struggled with how to write about it; my words seem trivial. But, like the house projects I also get overwhelmed with, I’m trying to take the first steps and at least get those done. Then the next step becomes obvious.  And I do believe the tide is turning. 

Love to all,


One thought on “Sunday Morning ~ New Adventures

  1. Penelope Evans Reply

    Congratulations! Hope you’ll write another book on you return!
    I, too, am dismayed about the direction this country is experiencing.

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