When I heard that Birth Without Fear was coming to Oakland for a meet-up, I immediately contacted the admins to see if there would be any vendor opportunities. When they replied, they asked if I would like to attend the meet-up and photograph the event. Of course, I said yes! I was very nervous, and not quite sure what to expect.
Ultimately, I was glad that I was not there as a vendor. In fact, aside from BWF/DoTerra essential oils, and the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep booths, there were no other booths set up. This was so different from other Birth events I had been to, where the goal was to sell products.
Let me start by saying, January, the founder of BWF, is instant BFF material. She is the type of person who hugs you the minute she meets you, and you feel like you have known her for years. If you know me, you know i’m not much on hugging my friends, but January I could hug forever. There is so much love and goodness in her hugs. She is the hug master.
To start the meet-up, January, talked to us about her birth stories. She has had 5 babies, and each birth was vastly different from the next. BWF was started shortly after the birth of her 3 child, her first VBAC. She wanted to explore what it was that made that birth different from her first two births. The keys that she found were that she had let go of fear, and that she felt supported. So Birth Without Fear was born from the idea that being knowledgeable about birth, making informed decisions, and feeling supported (by their partners, their doulas, their midwives, and their OB) has the biggest effect on how women feel about their births. No matter how they birthed. Something as simple as feeling safe and supported could be the difference between a beautiful birth memory, and a traumatic one. She also talked about loving ourselves, and body image. Two subjects that are both things that I struggle with and am actively trying to change. For myself, and for my children, who deserve a confident, strong role model as a mother.
I listened to January speak, photographing with tears in my eyes, as babies crawled around on the stage. After her talk, she opened up the floor for Q&A. I got to listen to women ask questions, that represented their fears. Newly pregnant women who wanted to hear about peaceful births. Women who have been trying to conceive wanting to know how long is “normal”. Women sharing stories of how after a traumatic first birth experience, they found BWF, and went on to have a healing second births.
After the Q&A we broke for lunch. When we returned January made each mama a cup of tea. This was a symbol of love and comfort. Women sipped their tea while January talked about what was to come next. The Harmony Circle. A circle of women, all expressing and releasing their deepest fears. Being heard, not just listened to, but HEARD. Without judgement. I am not at liberty to tell other women’s stories, but man, they were powerful. I saw tears. I saw laughter. I saw women who were strangers an hour ago, embracing, and connecting. I saw tribes forming. I saw women supporting women. I saw women being supported who had not felt supported before that day. I saw fears disappear. I could see the lightening as women released their heavy burdens. And it was amazing.
After the harmony circles, we formed one big circle, while Admin Ruthie corded us together. Bracelet making cord, wrapped around one wrist twice, then wrapped on the wrist of the person next to you. By the end, we were all connected. One entity of love and support. January talked to us about taking time for ourselves. About how we spend so much time taking care of our families, we forget to take a moment to nurture ourselves. Whether it be with a cup of tea, or a warm bath. We all deserve those moments of self care. To help with with this task we were gifted Earth Mama, Angel Baby bags containing Happy Mama Spray, some tea, nipple cream, and bottom balm. When Ruthie cut our cords, beads were provided, so that we could make a bracelet. I chose two beads, one to represent each of my children. If you were at the meet-up and would like to share what your beads represent, please do so in the comments.
After this the meet-up was concluded, but most of us stayed to connect further. I took photographs of January meeting readers, and heard time and time again how much BWF had changed their lives.
I love that this meet-up brought local women together in support. Most of these women may not have met each other otherwise. I truly hope to see some of these women again, and that those who needed support in their lives have found it.
If you have a chance to attend one of the Birth Without Fear meet-ups in your area, I highly recommend going. To see the full list of dates, go HERE.