Background/Experience that you think is beneficial to Doula work: I am a native Nuyorker and an Afro-Boricua. During my undergraduate studies I traveled to Cuba where I studied Afro-Cuban spirituality and music. I also traveled to Senegal West Africa where I studied the evolution of West African Oral Traditions. What does this have to do with birth work? Conquering uncharted territory - in ourselves. Birthing a new story about "who am I?" In giving birth to my baby girl the way I wanted to (on all fours on the hospital bed with a birth ball under me and my Doula advocating for what I needed) I moaned, grunted, pushed and spoke out my new "who am I?" story. Oral tradition is very important for a birthing Wombyn. When a Wombyn labors and births she is rendering a story about her power. Affirming and bearing witness to her transformation from feeling powerless or unsure to feeling steady, excited and ready to enjoy her journey is the greatest benefit my journey brings to this work.
What led you to become a Doula?: Becoming interested in birth work has been an evolving journey that began with an awareness of doing what is right for me; my physical, emotional and spiritual health. In '99, my sophomore year in college, I had a nervous breakdown. The next day I was walking through the student campus center and I saw East Indian students at a table with a sign that read: "Are you in the Present moment?" With more suspicion than curiosity, I paid for a week long course and began studying yoga and meditation. On the 1st day of class I walked right up to the yogi, handed him my $75 check and said "If I am not satisfied with this I want a full refund." LOL! I was a hot mess, I know. The yogi humbly nodded. in agreement. At the week's end I'd learned so much about the world - inside me. I walked up to the yogi and said "I am so sorry. This is the best $75 I ever spent." I spent my last year of undergraduate studies in West Africa. I evolved enough to outgrow my graduation ceremony. The birth of my daughter, birthed a new me. One that wasn't content with other people's way of doing things. I learned I not only could birth life but, I could sustain it. Nothing in college, travel, sex or really good Cannabis could ever reveal so much about my power. Residual neck and back discomfort led me to seeing a chiropractor and, she was amazing. She even adjusted my lil' girl right on my belly! I remember thinking "Wow, I wish I could be that empowered; that autonomous; that knowledgeable about my body." Unbeknownst to them, my female chiropractors were mentors and educated me in the power of narrating my own story. In 2015 I reached a cliff in my life, a place where I needed to make a drastic move. I didn't know what would happen. Would I descend or would I soar? I jumped off and aimed for DC where 17 years before while interning on The Hill for Dennis Kucinich I discovered and accepted my politics could not be cut in the shape of a cookie. Other powerful badass Wombyn who brokered moments of curiosity, contrast and clarity are what led me to birth work.
What are some positive comments made about you by other people?:
“Viviana is a fearless mama!” “Thank you for making my wife so comfortable.” “You have taught me so much in so little time.”
What are your favorite pregnancy/parenting resources?: I do like Evidence Based Birth, Plumtree baby, Spinning Babies, Penny Simpkin, other bad-ass Doulas, experienced mamas and breastfeeding mamas.
What thoughts come to mind when you see a pregnant woman or brand new mom?: I wonder if they know how much wisdom is in their womb. I wonder if they have a birth plan. If they know about their pelvis type, if they know about all the wonderful amazing things their body is doing in each trimester. If they know the 3Rs, if they are receiving good perinatal care. If they know what the cascade of interventions is and how it leads to high rates of C-secs. I wonder if they know how important delayed cord clamping is. I wonder if they know what informed consent is. I wonder if they know how powerful they are. I wonder if she knows she has the right to choose whatever she wants and is medically safe for her birth. I wonder if they have someone in their birth team, like me, to ensure she knows how to advocate for the best possible birth for herself and her baby(ies).
What is the best gift you can give a new mom (as a Doula)?: The gifts of self-discovery and self-empowerment.
What is your favorite TV show or movie?: TV Show: Being Mary Jane and Queen Sugar
What is your favorite place to vacation?: Sunny, hot by the ocean or river with beautiful big trees nearby.
What is your favorite food?: SPICY Asian-fried Quinoa, Ginger-soy Salmon or, Swordfish and fried cabbage.
What is your favorite way to spend a day off?: In summer - outside in the sun with family and/or friends at the beach or hiking, trailing. Cold/Inclement: indoors with some fluffy PJs, a good book, movie, writing or by a warm fireplace doing something soothing.
Who lives in your house?: My beautiful 13 year old daughter and I, our beautiful corn tree, plants and stalks of Bamboo.