Labor Repose

Labor Repose
LaborPayne during her 6th homebirth (9th baby) at age 44

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Walk of Miracles

On January 21st I will depart Kansas City, MO by bus and ride for two days to reach San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in the state of Guanujuato.  Once there I will join my 8 American companions who make of the "Sisters of the Morningstar".  Our peculiar little all female group of sojourners will travel to San Miguel to participate in San Miguel Walk, a total of nine days of walking across the Sierra Madres.  I will walk with the group for three to five of those nine days.  Our small group will meld into a group of about 10,000 Mexicans who make this walk annually.  I will arrive later and leave earlier than the others in my group because of my school/work schedule.  I have participated in this walk three times before, but this time will be different.  The other times I went for the walk, this time I go for the destination.  The final destination of this pilgrimage is a Catholic church in San Juan de los Lagos, in the neighboring state of Jalisco.  When I reach this church (I'll be driven the remainder of the way after walking for three to five days) I will do what thousands of other pilgrims do when they reach it- petition La Virgin for a miracle.  There are special rooms in the back of the cathedral- walls lined with requests for miracles.  Some of the requests are accompanied by letters of gratitude (brought at some later date) for the received miracles.  For example, you might see a photo of a bedridden child, and a second photo taken a couple of years later of the same child running and playing.

I plan to bring my request for a miracle, Uzazzi Village, to La Virgin.  She is well known for granting miracles and I figure she might just as well grant mine.  After leaving my petition, I will return to San Miguel and board a bus for the two day ride back home or if finances permit, I will walk two additional days and then board a plane home.  When I return from my walk of miracles, I want to begin the Community Conversations on Maternal Infant Health.  From these Community Conversations I hope to find volunteers and donors to fuel the work.

In order to raise funds to cover the costs of starting the 501c3 that will become Uzazzi Village I am offering to carry prayer requests in exchange for your donation.  Your prayer request will be transcribed on paper, made into a small scroll, which I will carry in an amulet around my neck for the duration of the walk.  All prayer scrolls will be left at the alter upon my arrival in San Juan de los Lagos.  No donation is too small or too large, and all donations can request a prayer scroll.  Unfortunately, they will not be tax-deductible until the 501c3 is established.  None of your donations will go toward my expenses to do the Walk of Miracles, as I plan to cover all those expenses myself.  Thank you to all those who are a part of this vision taking shape. 

For more information, or to make a donation go to the website:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Community Visioning Survey

It's Ready!

Here are links to the Community Vision for Maternal Infant Health document
a link to the survey so we can get your feedback on the vision
you can schedule a Community Conversation

Community Vision


Please read the vision, and then take the survey.  We look forward to getting your feedback.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Uzazi Village is Concieved

The Community Visioning was a great success.  Here is the document created after the meeting that summerizes the vision. 

Uzazi Village- A Community Vision of Maternal Infant Health

December 9, 2011 a community meeting was held at the Kansas City, MO Health Department. The purpose of this meeting was to gather a group of community stakeholders to come together to create a vision of what maternal infant health in our community SHOULD look like. Here is snapshot of the vision that was created specific to zip codes within the African-American community of KCMO:

Current Conditions
Action Plans
  • infant mortality rates above national average
  • FIMR mom profile highest
  • low breastfeeding rates
  • high rates of prematurity
  • high rates of cesareans and inductions
  • high rates of preterm delivery
  • low birth weight
  • delayed or insufficient prenatal care
  • smoking rates increasing
  • high rates of obesity/
  • social determinants of health put residents of certain zip codes at high risk of poor health indicators
  • Infant mortality and morbidity rates at or below national average
  • infant deaths not concentrated in the urban core
  • increased rates of initiation, duration, and exclusive lactation among Black urban mothers
  • infants born at term with adequate weights
  • decreased cesareans, and inductions
  • improved access to prenatal care
  • improved maternal health prior to pregnancy
  • work with others to improve life overall in the urban core
  • culturally appropriate care models
  • midwifery model of care
  • mother friendly care models
  • baby friendly care models
  • collaborative planning and working with all stakeholders
  • home visiting models of care
  • community-based solutions
  • health care delivery models sustainable without government funding
  • woman-centric care models
  • affordable accessible care that preserves dignity and respects those it serve
  • create a series of
“community conversations” to discuss the vision
  • invite others to share in the vision through donations of time, money, or goods
  • identify leadership and create a 501c3 to enact the vision
  • begin to work with existing organizations and community stakeholders to transition the vision to reality
  • make a positive difference in the lives of women and infants and their families in the urban core by improving health outcomes

Uzazi Village- A Culturally Relevant and Respectful Model of Maternal Infant Health for the Urban Core

What is Uzazi Village?

Uzazi is Swahili for birth. Uzazi Village will be a community-based perinatal care model created by community men and women for community women and infants (and their families) who are at higher risk for poor perinatal outcomes. We seek to create a model of care that is affordable, accessible, sustainable, high in quality, is culturally appropriate, and respectful of traditional/ancestral knowing, that promotes a high level of wellbeing and improves overall potential for the individual and the community to live in harmony in order to pursue its full purpose for being.

What does this model of care look like?

Maternal-infant health                   Family health                       Community health
-Peer to peer learning models    -family care/pediatric care       -high risk zip codes

-home visits with 'peridoulas'    -male leadership roles                - on bus lines

-midwifery care                  -assumed male involvement            -vibrant communities
  -lactation supportive          -same provider throughout             -providers live here

-bartering system for pay     -school nurse expanded role        -linked to other resources

-house calls by midwives   - parish nurse expanded role         -community supported

-same provider throughout   -group centered care              - decreased medicaid reliance

-personal ownership of health    -wellness focused care          - we did it ourselves

-partner with clients, listen       -clients define family            -community gardens

Does this sound like a conversation you would like to join?

This document will be dispersed far and wide throughout our community with a survey attached to invite feedback.  In addition, we will begin next month attending assembled groups to share the vision for the purpose of finding 'our people'.  Those individuals looking for just such a project to work with will hear about us through our "Community Conversations" series.  They will help to write this story.

Another interesting development this week: I invited a national insurance company to join me in crafting an application for a federal grant seeking innovation in healthcare service delivery to Medicaid populations.  They said yes!  We will be submitting a proposal for pregnancy doulas (or what I call 'Peridoulas' ) to follow pregnant medicaid clients from the start of pregnancy to up to a year following pregnancy.  I fully expected this insurance company would read my email and hit the delete button.  Imagine my surprise to get a call the very next day from the Vice President of Research and Innovation out of Long Beach California!  So add to my to do list, crafting a winning grant proposal that is due at the end of January.  Even though I accepted two adjunct teaching positions for the spring semester, I am considering turning down one of them so I can concentrate on grant writing (and book writing, and workshop writing, and article writing...not to mention starting CNM school).  This should teach me to be careful what I ask the universe for...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Meeting of Minds

Next Friday, December 9th, a very important meeting will take place: 'A Community Visioning'.  This meeting, hosted by yours truly, is an invitation to all 'Community Stakeholders' to come and discuss a plan for creating community-based maternity care; what it would look like, and what it would take to make it happen.  I have been planning this meeting all year long.  I don't want 2012 to come without a plan of action in hand.  All year long now, I have been looking at the vision board in my bedroom next to my bed.  It is the first thing I see when I wake up every morning.  A large poster board covered in sticky notes and timelines foretelling a seemingly impossible dream; an urban prenatal clinic, birth center, and midwifery school.  All quite heady stuff for a former teen welfare mom. How do I galvanize the considerable resources of this community to make it happen?  Well, it will start with this meeting.  I have sent out my clever and attractive EVITE invitations.   I have enlisted a top notch talented facilitator.  I have a state-of-the-art, large meeting room.  I have my mother's cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit for feeding the participants. And I have an agenda.

In many ways I have been waiting 20 years to host this meeting.  I have agonized over the invitation list for months.  I understand that whomever is meant to be there, will be there.  I also understand that this is the first step in taking my dream PUBLIC.  Oh sure, lots of people have heard me talk about my plans to do this or that, but this is the first time in 20 years that I have invited anyone else into that conversation. Its like leaving your five year old at kindergarten for the first time- it finally hits you that someone else will have influence on the way your little one thinks and behaves.  In taking my dream public, there are risks.  On the other hand, alone I can only accomplish so much.  Already, I have been flooded with offers for space for housing the project.  I will be out next week, looking around Troost Ave. for the perfect store front.

I'm picturing it already:
"UZAZI VILLAGE" the sign will read. (Swahili for birth) In small letters beneath it, it will read: "An Afro-centric community dedicated to maternal infant and community health". To start, there will be free pregnancy tests and resource referrals.  Childbirth classes (the good empowering kind), and breastfeeding support groups will be a staple.  Other classes will be added: parenting classes, finance management, employment preparation, etc.  I intend to invite others who are already doing these things to do them at Uzazi Village, not duplicate them. I hope other support groups will spring up; fathering support groups, infant loss support groups, perinatal mood disorder support groups.  Again, there are already folks out there doing these things, I will invite them to do an Afro-centric version at Uzazi Village.  In this way I expand the capacity of organizations who have already perfected this work (whatever it is).  Uzazi Village will be divided into Houses: Umoja (unity) House will be our think tank, leadership, and administrative council (Council of Elders), Kujichacalia (self-determination) House will house job readiness, GED completion programs and such. Ujaama (cooperative economics) House will house a business incubator for nonprofits supporting maternal infant health, and courses on entrepreneurship and nonprofit leadership.  Imani (faith) House will house faith-based initiatives and church volunteer groups and hopefully a parish nurse ministry.  Kuumba (creativity) House will maintain art programs and community gardens.  I will add clinical services as soon as I graduate from midwifery school, unless a practicing midwife or physician wants to offer clinic hours sooner.  The Ida Mae Patterson Perinatal Wellness Clinic will thus, be born. Named for my grandmother, Ida Mae, who had 24 babies, but only saw nine live to adulthood, this clinic is the crux of the vision. Clients of the Ida Mae clinic can expect home visitors known as pregnancy doulas to visit them at home and do assessments and education. Hierarchies will be flattened as care providers retrieve their clients from the vibrant and active community room (no waiting rooms) and walk them back to their serene and tastefully appointed,  mutual exchange suite (no exam rooms)  I hope the place is filled with students wanting to learn: nursing students, midwifery students, medical residents (DO, OB, family practice)  etc.  As it evolves from an education center to clinical services, I will also add birthing rooms: The Nia (purpose) House. I chose this name because of Morningstar's quote in her book of the Cherokee birth blessing, "May you live long enough to know why you were born."  I want every child born at Nia House to know their purpose, to know why they were born, to be an integral part of the community that has welcomed them.   I hope there will be tutoring, a community garden, a daycare...  I hope it expands to take up the entire block... the entire city... the entire world...  I want Uzazi Village to be a sustainable, replicable model of community-based wellness care that supports maternal infant health that radiates forth to positively impact family health, that glows outward to support community health.

Now join me in my vision.  What do you see...?