Hey Fam,

Today is my BIRTHDAAAY!! I thought what better way than to start off my day celebrating with you all. My amazing community! So please accept this month’s newsletter as a love letter of gratitude to all of you for your support, trust, and encouragement. I wanted to share how you all have impacted the work that I have done with Luna Doula this year, and some lessons learned that I will be taking with me into the new year.

This year, I was able to support 25 families, spanning birth, postpartum, end of life/grief support, and abortion support. Many of my families came by word of mouth from current Luna Doula families, friends, and colleagues, but some found me through internet searches for Black Doulas in the DMV area. How amazing! Through some generous donations over the last two years, I established the Mbusa Fund which enables me to provide discounted and pro bono support to families in need that cannot financially meet my sliding scale prices. Although I raised my prices this last quarter, I’ve worked hard to maintain accessibility with my sliding scale pricing. This year with the help of the Mbusa Fund, I provided two weeks of discounted overnight postpartum care for a family, pro bono abortion support for two families, and pro bono end-of-life consulting for another grieving family. We faced the overturn of Roe v. Wade which significantly impacted abortion support in addition to the quality of care during pregnancy loss and life-threatening situations for pregnant folks. With the help of thousands of educators, activists, and policymakers, I found myself engaging in resource coordination and educating folks on ways to navigate the changing laws and how to find the life saving support despite restrictive policies. Let’s keep our foot on their necks to ensure equal and just reproductive rights for all.

This year, I ventured into some fun and exciting projects, attended trainings to enhance my work, and was featured on some pretty dope media outlets. I was cast and performed in two plays this year. Both plays, Fences and King Hedley II, were written by acclaimed Black playwright the late August Wilson. What a fun and empowering experience. Thank you to my Doula families, friends, and family who came to see me perform and support the local community theatres in Bowie, MD and Alexandria, VA.

I expanded my birthing knowledge and attended the Spinning Babies training with my doula sistahs Brittany Martin and Leah Hairston. I also attended a two day grief symposium and learned more about how to offer grief support in creative, culturally affirming, and expansive ways. I also learned more about Haitian Postpartum traditions and care from midwife Barbara Verneus, which I was able to put to use with one of my postpartum families who requested a traditional Haitian Bain (postpartum herbal bath). As some of you know, I launched this Newsletter series in March, with the help of my Virtual Assistant Lisa Trinidad. This has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding ventures for me. Each and every one of you who have emailed, texted, and commented to share stories and continue conversations started in my newsletters, have been the fuel to keep me going. I hope you know how impactful you have been.

I had the distinct honor of being interviewed and featured in the Black Doula Project’s documentary about the importance of Black Doulas and how families have benefitted from the work of Black doulas. My work was also discussed in the Angry African Podcast featuring guest doula Leah Hairston. This episode also mentioned some dope local doulas Vanessa Hanible and Zaynab Aden, so I was in really great company.

The major lesson I learned this year is how to actually incorporate the rest that is so needed for this work to be sustainable and consistent. I took an intentional break from births these last three months, and focused on rest, postpartum support, and planning for next year. I’ve learned my limits and I’m enjoying establishing healthy boundaries to maintain them! For me, rest looked like more quality time with my parents, my siblings, and my niece. I’ve been able to make plans with friends, hike more, attend Black ass events, sleep, graduate to a new level of psychotherapy, learn some cool things about myself, incorporate more moving meditation into my weekly routine, and sleep. Did I mention sleep? Haha. Next year I am booked until May for births, with some flexibility to take on an extra birth each month. I am hoping to acquire some more educational materials for my prenatal education work, like Black and Brown infant dolls and a flexible life-sized pelvis with accompanying reproductive organs and surrounding organs/muscles. I’m also hoping to expand the reach of my End-of-Life consulting and grief support.

Mostly though I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with my Luna Doula families, helping new families, continued growth, and community partnerships. I learn so much from all of you. I thank you for your trust in my work, your sweet family updates, grateful for sharing in your joys and challenges, and bearing witness to the love you have ever so present in your lives. Wishing you all a lovely Holiday season, and a gentle, restful, and joyous New Year!

With love and gratitude,

Doula Jo