Actually doing the work

Today I spent three hours at the Prematernal Home giving back and foot massages. I used Charisma, Lemon Zest Shea Butter, and mango butter for massages. Then I used strawberry-lemon, orange, grapefruit, or lavender oil in the foot soak.

It was truly a gratifying experience. They were all so happy I was there! One even told me when she heard the director announce I’d be coming, she ran out in the hallway and signed up first! I kept the list of their names as a memento.

They told me about their kids and showed me pictures and videos of birthdays and all that. So many chubby faced love bugs! 🥰Some were having their first and others already had 4 or 5 other children. They had me cracking up when they told me about the way people look at them when they’re in Hawaii. The Yu’pik walk around in t-shirts and shorts in 70 degree weather; but Hawaiians are freezing cold! 🤧🥶🤣

Several of them mentioned they’d hoped their husbands could make it in time. They were wondering who else was a doula in town and apparently I’m the only one here. So I’m glad they said they’ll ask their doctors at their upcoming appointments about having one.

The issue, as I’ve begun to understand it, is that Medicare only pays for the mother’s flight. So these women are flown in around week 37 and stay in the Prematernal Home until delivery. In some cases, they’re flown to Anchorage if there are complications. But either way, if they’re here from a village, chances are they’re by themselves.

If Medicare won’t pay for a companion flight, I wonder if they’ll pay for doulas to be there instead? I’ll have to look into the laws and bills and such. Mama Shafia did it in Oregon. I wonder if I’ll do the same here?

🤯🤯🤯

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Maintaining momentum

Last night, I spent four hours at the Prematernal Home. 😂😂🤰🏻🤷🏽‍♀️

First I had dinner with them, which was apparently the joke of the day to all of us because the pot roast tasted like it was made with barbecue sauce. Class went well, they enjoyed the meditation (as all my classes do) and had me cracking up when we discussed self-induction methods of nipple play and other paths of “self-love”. 🤭😏

When I asked about meditation, some said they do it when they need a break from their kids, which I absolutely believe is a thing! When it was massage time, I kinda realized how much help I could use up here. There were 8-9 women waiting and I tried to time each session to 7 minutes, and some wanted both their feet AND back rubbed; which they should, I just know a team would make this go by quicker.

One mom in particular asked me a few times “aren’t you tired?” and I just smiled and said “nope! I come alive doing this. Doing stuff like this gets me going. I forgot I was even at work today.”

And I meant every word of that. Just being able to pamper women who are about to go through a life-changing event, particularly for those whose partner won’t be there, is an honor to me. I’m happy to help someone sleep better cuz her shoulders got worked on or that knot is finally out of her back.

I needed to run to the market anyway for my kale salad ingredients (my appetite is BYKE!🗣) so I picked up some bags of Epsom salt for the moms. I’d also left my headphones at the home 🤦🏽‍♀️ so a few drop offs and pick ups later, I finally got home to rub the tiger balm they enjoyed so much on my OWN shoulders.

Today was pretty dope. I had a few epiphanies as I made dinner. I also realized how much I miss my family, my loved ones. I know my sisters and I are gonna have a crying festival when we see each other, same as my parents. I’ve only seen my partner since I’ve been over here and that was Valentine’s Weekend. 🤧😭 So my countdown continues, with six weeks left, and I know anything & everything could happen.

My first Bethel Baby!

(written 3/22/2019)
I got off work near midnight last night, but decided to check if anyone was in active labor before I left. There was! So I went to introduce myself and see if she needed some support.
Things were off to a slow start but progressed rapidly in the wee hours of the morning. I was just about to go home and nap when her moans intensified.
“Nah, I can’t leave her now.”
After changing positions, massages, the jacuzzi, and a bunch of pep talks, she delivered a fat faced angel in less than ten minutes of pushing. Throughout the night she kept saying “I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you stayed.”
I cut the cord, yall.
I can literally climb Mt. Everest right now. I could dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. I could spend a weekend on Mars.
That’s how elated I am. That’s how birth work makes me feel.
And now I’ll take a nap, not just because I’m exhausted, but because this is overwhelming in the most amazing way!
#AliciatakesAlaska #TundraDoula #Manifestthelifeyouwant #doula #Birthworker #BirthPartner

Officially in countdown mode

It’s almost 1:30 in the morning and here I am, typing this up. My work schedule has changed to evening shift, including Saturday. Now anyone who’s worked with me knows how much I loathe those hours. It ain’t that bad up here only because it’s a small town with few places to hang out. Almost all our kickbacks are at someone’s house. Occasionally we’ll do the pool/rec room but for the most part, we alternate hosting. I go to work tomorrow AFTER accompanying a young lady from the pre-maternal home as she gives birth!

It has taken me from mid January until today to finally get to operate as a doula, but in actuality, a companion. There isn’t a volunteer program where I work, so even though there aren’t any doulas as paid staff, I couldn’t volunteer through the hospital either. Insurance and liability reasons are what I thought a hindrance…until I made an executive decision to do it on my own time. I had done my Holistic Prenatal Care class just a few days before, and was in bed like “how on earth am I gonna make this happen if there’s no job for it?!” Then it hit me: Do it yourself. Sacrifice your own time and do it. You cannot wait for a job to be created when there’s already a need for it.”

So now I have a flyer posted at work offering my services to women who are going into labor. I am really amazed at myself. I know I can be hard on myself often and worry about what I could’ve done differently, but I feel like I did it right this time. I also am in contact with a few providers at the hospital who recognize my skills as a great addition to patient care.

I have exactly 9 weeks left here. I almost doesn’t feel like it’s been four months but it has! There are a bunch of other goals I have set for the rest of the year, the first being to pass my ASCP. This will be my 5th time taking this cotdamb exam and I just want to knock it out the park at this point! Next, I want to enjoy some beach and pool time. My sister Hope graduates the same week my contract ends, so I’ll be able to make it. I wouldn’t have missed it even if I was working. I’ll be in Anchorage next month visiting my cousin and her husband, and one of my Bethel Babes is going too. Houston will be my next trip after getting back home since the Bethel squad is spending Memorial Day Weekend together. I’m sooo pumped about that trip cuz I really love those folks! Meeting them was one of the best parts of this whole Alaska experience.

Another thing I enjoyed since being here is skipping town. LOL! I went to Seattle during Valentine’s weekend and had a wonderful time with the Mister. It had snowed earlier that week so it was trippy to see the heavy fog, the water, then snow along the sidewalks. We really found the Pike Market to be our favorite part, especially the guys tossing fish. We bought fruit from the produce stand and looked at all the booths. I got to visit Jade in Everett and we all had dinner. As he and I went to our separate gates, I was slightly relieved that I didn’t cry. It hasn’t been easy having to go longer than before without seeing him, but What’s app and messenger are keeping things solid.

That’s all for now. I have some huge things in progress right now that I’ll speak on when they happen. Just know that ya girl is manifesting greatness up here in the tundra.

Four weeks in..

I’ve been in Alaska almost a month now. Some days it feels like much longer than that. It has been both refreshing and stifling being up here. I’m starting to memorize faces, names, and people’s quirks. I now have two roommates, and thank you Muva Gawd we all get along. They work opposite shifts and I’m the only one on a M-F day time schedule. Some days, our schedules overlap each other’s and we all chat in the kitchen/dining area. I am back into the swing of cooking, even though groceries are MAD expensive up here. Wait til yall see the receipts from some of my market trips! All I do is cuss from the time I go inside until I leave the register! Lmao

Since it’s such a small town, I run into people from work all the time. Glad I get along with most people, cuz I can’t imagine always possibly running into someone I got beef with. Something I mentioned on Facebook earlier is the silence I am growing accustomed to. I’ve always loved living in the city, even as a child. My apartment in Mt. Vernon back home gave me all the city noise I could handle: sad whistles of CSX and Amtrak trains, belching jake brakes, the shrill sounds of the buses lurching to a halt, the whoosh and ding of the light rail, the thunderous subway that rolled right underneath my building. My home in Bethel is not far from the airport, so that’s some pretty regular noise; but I haven’t heard a siren since I left Chicago on Cyber Monday! The plus side to all this silence is that my meditations up here have been nothing short of magical!! I sweatergawd I been on the astral plane! Imagine hearing nothing but the occasional hum of a plane engine, Tibetan singing bowls (my preferred music for meditation), and your own breath?! Yeah, it’s pretty dope. 

The other thing that makes my heart feel full up here is the community I’ve quickly grown to be involved with. A woman saw me during lunch break of orientation and invited me to Sunday dinner. I showed up ecstatic to see 3 Black women listening to soca! I was like “whaaaaatt?!” That was such a healing night for me, more than they may ever understand. My feelings were still hurting from the previous day’s bullshit over that blog story (double eye roll axel and dismount). Being surrounded by women who look like me and have so many shared experiences between us was like hot tea, a warm croissant with honey, and a blanket for my soul in this cold, remote land. I’m grateful for them, and for those who have yet to meet us. Sunday dinner and Sunday Fun Day (with another crew of people) are the highlight of my week! That and sleeping in on weekends, since the cotdamb sun don’t rise like nearly 11 am, then sets by 5 pm. 

I am hoping to secure other opportunities up here related to my other passions but I’ll speak on those when they happen. Just know that I am always thinking of ways to fully immerse myself up here. I had to laugh earlier cuz in the cab on the way home from the market, I looked up and realized there was snow and ice everywhere around us, and the grass I barely saw was like 500 feet away. The cabbie saw me looking around nervously and we locked eyes in the rear-view. I said “Is that the lake or a tundra road we’re on?!” He laughed and said in an Albanian accent “That’s the lake. It’s frozen.” My eyebrows were in my scalp! I laughed and said “Oh my goodness, I’ve been over this way a bunch of times and had no idea!” So um, yeah, that’s what life is like. Oh, and Saturday night, some friends and I decided to experiment with boiling water and the bone chilling weather outside. It was -16 degrees when my homeboy tossed the water into the air, toward the tundra. IT INSTANTLY TURNED TO SNOW! Glad we recorded that moment; because I’ve seen reporters do it back home but never experienced it in person. 

Christmas is next week and I thought I was going to Anchorage to visit my family but them tickets are last minute and it wouldn’t be smart to buy them. Some of the crew here will behaving kickbacks all weekend so I’m sure I’ll have to fun to get into. Oh I forgot to mention that the only store that sold retail beer and wine closed last Saturday, the day after I went! It’ll be reopening in January under new management. Apparently the alcoholism up here is so severe, the community voted to only let the store operate Wednesday through Sunday from 5-8 pm. Needless to say, I was appalled but amused. The day I went, I stood outside for 20 minutes as 20 people were ahead of me and the store only let 5 people inside at max, one person at a time in and out. That was one of the many instances I whispered “Wtf” to myself and shook my head laughing. Several people took selfies of the quickly growing crowd, yelling “Everyone say ‘WHISKEEYY!’ “. Absolutely hilarious. What tickled me most was seeing people ride away on snowmobiles with boxed wine tucked in the crook of their arm. I was in SHAMBLES. I definitely cussed as I bought a 5 liter box of Franzia for $47!!! Everything up here is 2-3x the cost back home because it’s so far away from most manufacturers. 

I guess my thoughts on living up here so far are mixed. None of the pros and cons outweigh the other cuz I’m not leaving until my contract is over anyway. Hahaha. I can definitely see how people stay longer than planned but I also see why people want to leave. For now I’m just observing and getting acclimated. This is nearly a thousand words but I had to update yall on my first month in the tundra. 

Good night ❤

One of the worst days of my life!

Saturday morning I woke up to the horror of my face on an HIV story by the popular blog XO Necole. The survivor is a 50 yr old woman named Camille.

Two people I know personally messaged me letting me know a picture from a photo shoot I did in 2015 was plastered on that page. The photographer never sold my picture and I never signed a model release form.

I was distraught!

After I tweeted them, they gave me a sloppy apology, took my picture down, then replaced it with another woman’s picture. Twitter railed on them, and by Sunday morning, the article featured a picture of HIV test tubes. As of today, the photo is back to the second woman.

I’ve been asking people to share the picture of the second woman repeatedly, cuz I can’t do it on my own. I want her to know this so she can decide what to do with this information moving forward.

I’m asking yall to keep me and her in your thoughts and well wishes, and to share the picture with her face (long, wavy hair, wearing a shoulder bag) in hopes that she or someone she knows will see it.

The whole thing is sloppy, reckless, and negligent; and I’m hurt, confused, angry…but DETERMINED to get to the bottom of this!

Thank you for reading/sharing. 💖💪🏾✨

Polar Bae

Soooo..

I put in my two weeks’ notice October 26th.

Didn’t have a solid backup plan but I knew I wanted to do something else. Got a travel job (for a lab) that following Tuesday. Moved in yesterday.

Today was orientation.

I am living in Bethel, Alaska for the next six months!

More details coming soon.