Felicia’s Dream Hawaiian Water Birth
After An Ectopic Pregnancy
Season 2, Episode 7: Felicia’s Dream Hawaiian Water Birth After An Ectopic Pregnancy
Episode Description: Felicia didn’t know if she’d ever give birth to a baby after an ectopic pregnancy that left her with one fallopian tube — but after years of physical and spiritual healing, she got exactly what she always wanted on the island of Hawaii. Originally from Idaho, Felicia has reclaimed love and peace as a stay-at-home mom and massge therapist who enjoys exploring the outdoors, hiking, and being by the ocean. Join Kimberly for this week’s episode, as she chats with this mama about how she found joy and healing after heartache and uncertainty and birthed her miracle baby surrounded by Black women.
- Marco Antonio Perez Estrada is the partner of Felicia Banks. Born and raised in Mexico City, Marco moved to Hawaii when he was 15-years-old. Now the owner of a home remodling business and a father, he loves to spend time with his family and watch his daughter grow. One day, he wants to teach her fire dancing and soccer, which are his passions.
- Wahinehula Kaʻeo is a koʻokua, or birth and postpartum doula from Waiohuli, Maui. She is a co-founder and the development director of Kalauokekahuli, a nonprofit organization that supports Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander families by providing culturally-based prenatal, birth, and postpartum education and services. She is currently a student midwife and is passionate about reducing poor maternal health outcomes for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, as well as reclaiming and revitalizing traditional birth practices. Wahinehula looks forward to serving her community as a doula and midwife in the years to come. IG handle: @Kalauokekahuli
- Hale Kealaula LLC is owned by midwife Selena Green, CPM, LM, RP. The organization provides doula support and care for home births, water births, and hospital births. They’re dedicated to supporting women and babies. They believe that every client has a right to safe, satisfying health care with respect for human dignity and cultural beliefs.
- The P?polo Project redefines what it means to be Black in Hawai‘i by producing educational and cultural learning opportunities, hosting community gatherings, and creating original media that creates new narratives for and about Black people.
- Interested in having a doula and/or midwife for your pregnancy, birth or postpartum period? Here are resources for finding Black midwives, doulas, lactation consultants, and other perinatal specialists of color: Sista Midwife Directory, The Bridge, and National Black Doulas Association.
- Download Irth, the only app where you can find prenatal, birthing, postpartum and pediatric reviews of care from Black and brown birthing people. Leave a review today to help inform and protect others! Search reviews to empower yourself.
- Are you ready for 2022 Black Breastfeeding Week? We’re celebrating 10 years of supporting and uplifting lactation in the Black community! Join us as we celebrate this year’s theme, “A New Foundation” on August 25th through 31st, with virtual and local events. Visit www.BlackBreastfeedingWeek.org to find an event near you.
- Learn more about having a safe and empowered birth by downloading the free ebook: Birth with Irth: A Mini-Manual to Pregnancy and Childbirth for Black People
- For Black breastfeeding resources, visit Black Breastfeeding Week, Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA), and Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE).
- Catch up on episode extras from season 1 and 2 on BIRTHRIGHT’S YOUTUBE PAGE!
- Subscribe to be notified for new episode releases every Wednesday! Love Birthright? Leave a rating and review.
- Get full episode details and transcripts on www.BirthrightPodcast.com.
- Follow Kimberly Seals Allers on Twitter on Instagram: @iamKSealsAllers
- Birthright is funded by the California Health Care Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund.
Kimberly Seals Allers 00:01
Welcome to Birthright, a podcast about joy and healing in black birth, where we share positive birth stories of those who have lived out their birthright and help heal those who have been denied it. My name is Kimberly Seals Allers, and I’m the founder of the Irth app, and your host. This is where we celebrate the ways we find joy in our birthing experiences. And ultimately, reclaim our birthright.
Today we travel to Hawaii, with one mother’s journey from Oregon to Oahu, where years after an ectopic pregnancy caused doctors to say it would be impossible to have children, this mama found a spiritual home and cultural home that made the impossible possible. But as you will hear, there are complexities to birthing while Black within other indigenous cultures even when you are technically still in the U.S. and among other people of color.
Felicia Banks 00:27
Aloha everybody. My name is Felicia Banks, and I am the mother of one to Eco Yeti Perez Banks. And this is my birthright story. I was originally born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and I lived there my whole life. I moved to Portland, Oregon, when I was 19 years old. I moved back to Idaho when I was 20. And then I moved all around Idaho, until I found my home in Oahu, Hawaii, where I have been staying for about three and a half years now. So my twin sister, she lived here, she moved here. And then I decided to move afterwards. It was absolutely amazing, especially coming from Idaho where it was predominantly white people. And so when I moved here it was it was a cultural shock for me. But in the most beautiful way, I didn’t know there were so many different cultures, and so many different people and just everybody mixing and so it’s been so exciting and a blessing. Hawaii is completely different. There’s not too much race wars or anything, it feels very united here, because everybody comes from everywhere around the world, and resides here. So we have to make it work together as one. It’s a different kind of vibe here. It’s very open hearted and very loving. And it’s a very spiritual place as well. I’m going to reside here for the rest of my life. This is exactly how I want to live.
Kimberly Seals Allers 02:10
Wow, that’s an incredible statement. That is an incredible statement. So talk to us a little bit about your pregnancy journey, you know, how did that begin for you? And what, you know, what were you doing with your life at that point?
Felicia Banks 02:28
Well, back in 2016, I had an ectopic pregnancy. And I was bleeding and I didn’t feel well. And I had to go to the hospital. Well, I had a emergency. They cut into my body, and they took my fallopian tube out on my left side. Because the cells were just growing in there and it bursted open, they couldn’t close it up. And if I would have kept it in my body, I would have bled to death. And so I had to get that taken out. Well, they went to the other side of my body. And they told me that it was so plugged up with endometriosis and old and new that nothing could pass through. So then they told me that I was not able to have kids. I was twenty seven, I think at the time.
Kimberly Seals Allers 03:23
Wow, that is really devastating news to get at age 27.
Felicia Banks 03:28
It was extremely devastating.
Kimberly Seals Allers 03:30
How did you process that?
Felicia Banks 03:32
I processed it that I’m going to do the best that I can do. I always wanted to be a mother. And so it was, it was a very deep pain. But I was like I can be a nanny, I can take care of others. And eventually if I down the line I could actually adopt or whatever I want to do. But I always wanted to have my own kids. So it was very upsetting. But I just had to go through and just move with the waves and continue my purpose as a human being because I’m here so the universe wanted me here for a reason. So I just had to move forward, move on. And I know that hey, it’s gonna be okay. Regardless, it’s just a test and the universe wants you to go a different route. And that’s where I stayed with it. But it was always something that it was a kind of a shadow heartbreak. You know, that’s what got me to Hawaii. I moved to Hawaii after i i got a divorce or an annulment after six months of marriage and I moved to Hawaii with my twin sister to just heal, to start my life over again, to start my process and everything. And I moved here and I swim in the waters, I meditate, got lots of massages, met a lot of healers a lot of good people around me And then all of a sudden I met a my partner Marco. And we were hanging out we were dating. And then poof, I found out I was pregnant.
Kimberly Seals Allers 05:15
I love the way people say poof. I love it.
Felicia Banks 05:22
That’s called. That’s the universal language.
Kimberly Seals Allers 05:28
I love it. I love it. Tell us about that moment. Was it a home test? Were you at a doctor? Take us through that moment, because I can imagine you had been carrying that this was not possible for you.
Felicia Banks 05:38
Girl, it was so crazy, like, oh my gosh, Kimberly. So that moment I was with my friend Anna at the time. And I was just like, I just don’t feel good Anna. And I was like, There’s no way I can be pregnant. But I can take a pregnancy test. And I took the pregnancy test. And I was pregnant. And I was scared because I didn’t know if it was gonna be another ectopic pregnancy. I didn’t know if the baby was safe or anything. And so I made a doctor’s appointment. And I went to the doctor’s appointment. And I was 11 weeks, two or 11 weeks and two days. And she was in the right spot. And it was just a miracle. I was in awe. And I was just like, this is definitely a gift from the universe. And I have got to do right by her and right by myself. And so I really tapped into listening to what my baby was trying to tell me, which is how I had a natural waterbirth. She told me that she wanted it. I would meditate. And she would tell me things. And this is what she told me. She told me, Mom, I would like to be birthed in water with a tribe of black women around me. And I hadn’t been in Hawaii for too long. So to me, that whole thing was, oh, I’m crazy. Felicia, this is in your mind, like, this is what it is. And I was just like, okay, but I heard her loud and clear. And I would continue to hang out with my friends, continue to take care of my body, do what I needed to do. And then one friend one day asked me How would you like your baby to be born? And I said, Well, it’s very, very, very specific. She told me that she wants to be born in the water with a tribe of black women around her. And I have no clue what to do with that. My friend then started laughing, and said that his wife just gave birth to their daughter two weeks ago in the water with a tribe of black women.
Kimberly Seals Allers 08:06
Felicia Banks 08:08
The same request that Echo had.
Kimberly Seals Allers 08:11
Wow, that is really powerful.
Felicia Banks 08:14
And so he gave me the information for Selena Green, and the girls. And obviously I’m being guided and divinely guided. So I go and I call Selena green. And we talk and then I go in, they give me a checkup, a natural checkup, see how she is. I was also working with a doctor at the time just to make sure she was in the right place, hear her heart rhythm, make sure everything was okay, get my bloodwork done. And so we just went through it. And with that I ate a all organic whole foods diet. I wanted to take the best care possible because this was my miracle baby. I guess it is a thing with Selena and her crew, Jasmine, and Ezinne. And they’re amazing. And then Ezinne is a doula, and so is Jasmine. And so I had a team of three women that helped me through this. And not a lot of people do have natural births. So I’m the only one out of all the people that I know that has had a natural birth with black women. But it is growing more and more into a thing where we are reclaiming our bodies and knowing that this is a natural process and we can do this. So they brought the pool in in my home when it was time and they filled it up with warm water. It got all comfortable and then when my water broke and the labor was really on then that’s when I hopped into the water and I started the process of natural birthing completely all natural.
Kimberly Seals Allers 10:08
What were some of the strategies that you used that helped you get through that, because I’m sure that one, it’s uncomfortable. And I’m sure you had some anxiety given your previous experience.
Felicia Banks 10:20
I did have some anxiety, but I knew that this is what me and my baby and my baby most importantly wanted. So I had a faith that it was all supposed to be and it was all going to be working out correctly. A couple of things is I had affirmations all over my room. One is my body knows how to give birth. Another one is I find joy in the process of giving birth. Also, my surges cannot be stronger than me, because they are me. So all these things I had all around the birthing room. I was looking at it when I was going through my surges and everything. And I was just looking. And then I have singing bowls. We have tuning forks and everything and my partner, when it would just get to be too much. He just really felt it out and he would chime and he would play at the singing bowl or he would do something musical or touch my stomach and create waves while I was in the water, where it kind of soothed me. I knew that he was there supporting me. So it was pretty. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Hello, Hi, my name is Marco. I live in Oahu, Hawaii, and I have one child. I met Felicia after a concert. I was just waiting for a friend and I felt someone tap my shoulder. And as soon as I turn, I get a hug from her. So it felt good. She hugs really good. And we started conversating for a little bit and we exchanged numbers. And then we didn’t start hanging out till later on. So I didn’t know she was the one until after I got to know her. My reaction when I found out that Felicia was pregnant, honestly, I was a bit scared. I felt like I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know how to react. But after we talked about it, we came to an agreement that we were going to form family. it was amazing. Especially knowing her past and the circumstances that she went through before and knowing that she couldn’t have a baby. It was just amazing to know that there’s always a possibility and the universe puts us in a way sometimes that we can’t, we don’t expect and I believe there’s always a reason for it. So yeah, I was excited for for my family to to build a family with her. It was a miracle. It’s something that can bring so much joy in your life. The day that Felcia went into labor was amazing. I wasn’t really fearful or concerned because I wanted to be present. I wanted to be in the moment with them. Wanted to stay as much present as I could so that I can help her get through or if something was in need I can be useful. Be there for them. It’s just it was just amazing. I was so excited that I couldn’t really think of all the things but being there you know, being present with them and helping her go through it the natural way. I think it’s amazing that we get to experience, she got to experience formost giving birth the natural way that our grandmas did it before our great grandmas you know. It’s just an amazing feeling. It’s such an excitement that is unexplainable.
Felicia Banks 15:17
Oh my goodness, it was the most magical moment, Kimberly. I just remember being in there and I could feel so they let me like, touch and stuff. And I was like, okay, she is coming out. And I was like, and they said, Okay, Felicia push. And I just did the biggest push ever. And girl like the movies don’t give the birthing face justice, because I was all just wigged out just in birth, you just get to this certain level, and you’re just there and you accept the pain, you accept what you’re going through, and you’re gonna get it out. And I just remember in the moment, I could just feel her and she’s still in there, but she’s almost ready to pop out. And I said, Echo come out. And then I just pushed. And then all of a sudden her head was out. And I said, her heads out. And they’re like, is her head out? And I said, What do I do? And as soon as I said, What do I do? She flew out. She darted into the water, propelled into it. And she passed her papa’s hands, and went into Ezinne, which is our doulas hands, and Ezinne caught her, and then they brought her up to my chest. And she was right there on me. She didn’t cry. She looked at me. And she smiled at me. And I had my baby. Just looking at me and just healthy. And it was almost a look of mom, I know, I knew you could do this. And I was like, my thing was like, I didn’t even know that you were coming. But I’m so honored to be your mom and thank you for choosing me.
That moment she was born. It was just beautiful moment. It was amazing how I was able to be there, though to welcome her to this world for the first time to hold her. She was super fast. And when I tried to catch her, she slipped out of my hand actually and one of the doulas had to help me grab her and as soon as she did, she put her in my arms and I can just feel the love. You know, my heart was just full of love. It was such an amazing moment to welcome my daughter and see her eyes. Her cry. Actually, she didn’t really cry. She kind of like, made some noises. And definitely, definitely I felt included all the way in the process. Because I was with them. I was holding her holding Felicia’s hands all the way through. And I see I was present. So I was very in the moment when it was happening. I’ll never forget that. Even sometimes when I look back into the pictures, I feel so much joy, so much love. It really did make an impact on me and how natural birth is the way to go.
Felicia Banks 18:46
Marco is my partner and Echo’s father. And he was born in Mexico. So we’ve got a bunch of different kinds of tribal things because I have Native American and African American and then he is Mexican. And so we have a whole bunch of different cultures as well that are in tuned in and play in all of this too. But he’s been here. I think he moved to Hawaii when he was about 14 or 15. And so he knows way more on the whole Hawaiian way than I do. I’m still learning and I’m still practicing, and I’m ready to practice for the rest of my life by the way.
Aloha mai kakou. My name is Wahinehula Kaʻeo. l was born and raised on Maui and I work here as a birth and postpartum doula or koʻokua, as we say in Hawaiian. I am one of the founders of Kalauokekahuli, which is a nonprofit organization that supports Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander birthing people prenatally, during their birth journey and also postpartum. Kalauokekahuli was founded and is run by Native Hawaiian women. And we’re very proud of that. And also just making sure that I am serving my community in the best way that I know how, and making sure that my services are accessible, which then led to me having many really passionate conversations with Mālia Kaupe and ‘Iolani Brosio who also founded Kalauokekahuli with me, and we all just sort of felt the need for a space specifically for Hawaiian and Pacific Islander birth workers for Hawaiian and Pacific Islander birthing people.
Kimberly Seals Allers
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the connection between black people and the island of Hawaii and its people?
I’ll go back to a little bit of history without going all the way into it. Back in the Hawaiian Kingdom period, slavery was actually illegal in the kingdom of Hawaii. And so there are many enslaved people who would move from the mainland and come to Hawaii, we actually have, you know, stories of certain people who were enslaved and came to Hawaii and actually ended up you know, running really successful businesses in Hawaii. And so there is a certain level of connection already there from that time. And then I also think it’s important to really credit black people with some of the revitalization movements that were happening here. Also in Hawaii during you know, the 60s and the 70s, a lot of that was modeled after the Black Panthers. I mean, a lot of our academic, I guess, revolutions, you know, a lot of our ideologies come also from black people and from their struggles. And so I really do think it’s important to to credit black people with that. And I also think it’s also important to acknowledge that being black and being Hawaiian is also not mutually exclusive. You know, we have and also Pacific Islander, we have lots of black Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander ohana. And so just really want to acknowledge that.
Kimberly Seals Allers
OK, but let’s talk about some of the complexities and challenges here.
And I guess some of the complexities, I think, not just about black people moving to Hawaii, but I think just in general, is the struggle that Hawaiian people have to stay in Hawaii, and what it means when people move here, you know, just in general. So 50% of the native Hawaiian population does not live in Hawaii, they live in America, for multiple reasons, one of the main reasons that I know people are moving to America is just cost of living, you know, the cost of living in Vegas, when you have, you know, a huge family to support is way, way, way lower than the cost of raising your family here in Hawaii. And so, being pushed out of your own homeland is a, you know, it’s a complex issue. And so it’s really been a struggle trying to, I mean, ultimately just ensure the survival of Hawaiian people in Hawaii. You know, like, personally, I know, I will probably never be able to afford to buy a home here. And so I guess some of the complexities and the frustration when other people move here, you know, just just in general, is exactly that. You know, that we live on islands, there’s not a whole lot of real estate here. And we don’t want to necessarily develop more and have more homes here. And so there are a set number of homes here. And it’s kind of like if you can’t get in, then you can’t get in. So you know, when there’s this overwhelming number of people trying to move here. And we’re all trying to get into this little group of housing and jobs and not just jobs, but hopefully, you know, sustainable jobs that don’t contribute to the displacement of Hawaiians. It’s really, really difficult. I’m not exactly sure why people are drawn to Hawaii. I mean, I get it. You know, Hawaii is beautiful. And there’s lots of things to love about Hawaii, but I also think that romanticizing Hawaii has also contributed to so many issues here. And so you know, most people when they come here for vacation, they’re not expecting to see hundreds and hundreds of homeless Hawaiian people living on our beaches, and that’s a reality that we have, I believe, around 50% of the homeless population here in Hawaii is Hawaiian and we are a very small just just as a reminder, we are not a very small but we are a small percentage of the overall population in Hawaii, and so for us to be 50% of the homeless population is insane. And we are also 50% of the foster care population in Hawaii, which is also insane if we’re talking about, you know, just the bigger picture of how much of us are there in Hawaii. And so there’s this romanticized idea about living in Hawaii and finding your spiritual peace or, you know, stuff like that. Meanwhile, Hawaiians are being ravaged with health issues, drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling issues, land rate issues, desecration issues. And so I don’t want to say well, no, I do want to say that until Hawaiians have some sort of self determination here in Hawaii, I think it’s unfair for people to expect us to just, I guess, stay in Hawaii with open arms and say, Hey, Aloha, you know, like, come live here. Come find your spiritual peace here. And I think it’s something I like to call aloha spirit syndrome, where even just the the identity of Hawaiians are romanticized and kind of perverted into this idea that we are these, you know, yeah, so we do have a lot of love. But we are expected to act in this, in this way that all we care about is aloha spirit, and, you know, welcoming everybody to our islands. And so, you know, that’s really not our reality. We’re struggling here every day.
Kimberly Seals Allers
I appreciate your candor. That is real talk. I think as Black people we have a longing for a culture that was taken from us, that we are ripped away from and we are seeking connections. And as you mentioned, there is relatability in the struggle–and the ongoing struggle—-there is similarity in the indigenous practices among people in Africa, and the Pacific Islands, that this may be the geographically closest we can get to it and it feels very healing.
I know personally for myself, like, I’m always open to supporting all kinds of people of color, no matter what I’m here, and if that can contribute to their joy of birthing in Hawaii, I would be glad to just because again, there’s some sort of relation there. And it’s not just, you know, I don’t know, I don’t know how to word it without sounding like, but I mean, primarily the birth work community here in Hawaii is white there are very, very, very little people of color who are actively birth workers and who are also serving people of color. And so I think that that is something that you know, if we can build up this community, it’ll benefit us all mutually in the end, if that makes sense.
Kimberly Seals Allers
That totally makes sense. Can you tell me what are some of the indigenous practices that you all are striving to revitalize and change and what are the modern day challenges of this effort?
First of all, I think it’s important to recognize that indigenous practices, I mean, specifically here in Hawaii are very geographical. And so practices vary not just by island, but from District. Even Valley people did things different I, I do know that, like, the essence of indigenous birth, like I said, is just, I guess, really normalizing the natural process of birth. And also just having your whole family be involved in the process. And so prenatally, you know, there was such a high regard for pregnant women and the way that we act around pregnant women, and so one of the main things is that like, you know, we weren’t allowed to eat anything bitter or sour or things like that. And then we also are not allowed to engage in any sort of like conversation or anything that can be viewed as problematic. So, if there’s ever an issue that arises, it needs to be squashed immediately. Because, you know, we think that that definitely affects not just the the laboring process, but also, you know, the baby’s life to come. And so those are kind of really huge themes that, I think, that have been lost throughout, you know, the process of illegal occupation. And so, we’ve gone from really having a huge network of support, you know, for each birthing person, to now you know, living in Hawaii, where the cost of living is extremely high, and, you know, different types of issues that we face, within the medical system and socio economics to now we’re at a point where everybody’s working three jobs and not able to support you the way that you know, we might have 100 years ago. And so, especially during the postpartum time, we were really, really, really big on caring for the postpartum birthing person in a way that is like, not what we what would be considered extreme back then was normal, you know, they rested for six weeks straight, no leaving the bed, everybody made sure that baby was okay that you were okay that you were rested, that you were fed, that all your responsibilities were taken care of that the rest of your children were taken care of. And now we’re in a place where that’s next to impossible for anybody here living in Hawaii. And then I guess on the other side of the spectrum, I guess the big thing is, I mean, homebirth. Homebirth is really, really rare now, for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in Hawaii. I mean, now there’s kind of this resurgence. But we still are lacking in a lot of areas. And so number one right cost of homebirth. Homebirth is still not covered by insurance in Hawaii yet and even if it was we have little to none native Hawaiian licensed midwives, so they wouldn’t even count under that. And then also just accessibility to homebirth. Most native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, you know, we live in multigenerational households, with multiple family members and generations and cousins and uncles living in the same household and most midwives, when they will do like a home visit, they’ll say that that home is not viable, I guess for a home birth, which you know, that in itself is a privilege, especially in Hawaii is just having the space to be able to have a home birth, being able to afford a home birth. And then number three, most of all is having someone who is culturally compatible with you is pretty much next to impossible right now. Like I said, It is exciting to see the growth that is happening, but we’re still not there yet. And so, I think that a big missing piece, in order to revitalize traditional practices is to revitalize homebirth and it’s to revitalize midwifery care and just making sure that it’s accessible.
Kimberly Seals Allers 34:38
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I’m very careful about sharing traditional birth practices, I guess publicly. Because like I said, the birth work climate is very interesting here in Hawaii, where I can’t even keep count of the amount of birth workers that will move to Hawaii because they feel like they have some sort of spiritual connection with this place without even being here, ever or having no ancestral ties here. And so, there have been many occasions where, you know, cultural practices are taken and misconstrued or, you know, used for profit without actually benefiting our own community. And so I am very careful about sharing that kind of information. So with the introduction of Christianity and missionaries, and then, you know, the illegal occupation of Hawaii really has a huge, huge, huge effect on, you know, racism in Hawaii towards Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. And during the territory days of Hawaii, or so called territory days, really came the introduction of nurse midwifery in Hawaii. And without going into it too much. Basically, during that time period, Hawaiians were kind of pushed out of being able to have the same opportunities in nurse Midwifery, as opposed to say, Japanese, or white people in Hawaii. And so with that came the disappearance of a lot of different types of Hawaiian practices surrounding birth. And then also, I think it’s important to also note that language revitalization has a lot to do with the revitalization of all of these practices as well. So there was a time in Hawaii when speaking Hawaiian was illegal. And within the school systems in Hawaii that was used to forcefully assimilate our Hawaiian people, and, you know, really contributed to the erasure of Hawaiian language alone, disappeared, our understanding of different chants and prayers, different stories, because if we can’t translate it and understand that, then, you know, how can we really know?
Kimberly Seals Allers
Yes! When you suppress language, when you suppress stories and erase stories, you suppress and potentially kill a culture. That is systematic and intentional—and I mean for me personally, why I’m so passionate about lifting up our birth stories here on the podcast and using our experiences to push for systemic change via the Irth app.. Felicia I’m wondering what elements from your own culture and cultural history you were pulling from on this pregnancy journey?
Felicia Banks 38:42
Amen, amen. But I come from my grandmother, she had 14 kids, and she had 12 of her kids at home. And so my mama is from Mississippi, and grandma had 14 kids, they were on the farm, they owned lots of land, they were on the farm. And she had 14 kids, but 12 or 12 of them were born at home. And then two of them were born in the hospital. And so it’s something that I come from women that have done this before, but we kind of lost that knowledge that we’ve been doing this for such a long period of time. And we’ve given our power to these doctors, which told me I could not have a kid, you know, and that’s my power that was taken. And guess what? The Universe replenished my power. And so I knew I could do anything. And so with my spiritual practice, it’s a very, it’s universal. It’s not a religion or anything like that. It’s very universal. And in order for us to be one with ourselves, we’ve got to be one with the universe as well. And so I always know that I am taken care of, I always know that I am safe and protected. And I know that I have the universe on my side. So I just, it’s just an innate knowledge that we all have. And once you tap into it, you can do anything that the universe wants you to do. We have the right, and we have the divinity to do all of this.
Kimberly Seals Allers 40:23
Yeah, that’s all I wanted to say. I mean, I think there’s power in knowing the birth stories in our matrilineal line. Last season, I interviewed my own mother and I got to hear my birth story, which I really hadn’t heard in its entirety. And so I just wanted you to share if anything comes up for you around the fact that you knew what the birthing experiences were in your, you know, amongst your mother or your mother’s mother, and what value if any, you see that they may have for black women?
Felicia Banks 40:53
Well, definitely the value of my grandmother having her kids at home, and with a midwife definitely was the thing that gave me the most strength.
And, you know, I’ll be honest, like, my mom, she wanted one more kid and when she found out that she was having twins, she didn’t know how to do it. She was just like, oh, and she just freaked out. And she was at the river one day and this woman came up to her and she says, are you okay? Like what’s going on? And my mom says, I’m having twins, and I don’t know what to do. And the woman just picked my mom up and gave her a hug. And she says it’s okay. Lovebird it’s okay, I have twins. And she had twins 10 years before my mom. And so that person came right at that moment, and saved my mom and told her that it was okay. But I feel like I held a little bit of the trauma of it. I don’t have not been wanted. But I know she wanted us. She just didn’t know how to do it. But inside the womb. I think I didn’t know how to process that. And I carry that in my life with me. And so with me being stable with Echo, that was my major thing. Because I know that when you’re in the womb, it does affect you. Still, I know. I’m living proof of it. Right? So I’m ready to have my next one. And I want to do it the same way God willing, you know, honestly, it’s the best thing ever.
Kimberly Seals Allers
OK, she is ready. Felicia, what advice would you give to other moms and birthing people?
Well, if I can say anything to anybody, it would be trust your body, get into your body and listen to your baby because your baby will communicate with you. Whether it’s a movement, the reason why she got her name is because I was meditating. And I was told her name was Echo. And then I held my stomach and I said okay, your name is gonna be Echo and then she moved, and it was Echo at first, but that uh, my partner Marco, he wanted to put an apostrophe “o” with it and turn it into Echo and her name, her name is Echo Yatse. And that name means reflections of always and forever be loved. Listen, though, listen to your baby, listen to your body, and don’t fear it, embrace it, it’s a joyful thing. And you can do it, you have the strength. Well, the best thing I can say is one of my affirmations. And it goes, I feel the strength of all women who have come before me, we have done this, since the beginning of time, we have done natural births. And we have done this. And so there there should be no fear, because you haven’t done it before. It’s something new, or you’ve done it before, but you’ve done it a completely different way, like had medications or whatever, but give it a try. And trust that your body knows what to do. It takes care of us, we can wake up in the morning, and we start thinking that’s our body taking care of us, we start moving, that’s our body taking care of us. So we should have a trust in it.
Kimberly Seals Allers
Yes, that is so powerful. I close every episode by asking, what is our Birthright?
I think that our birthright is, you know, above just bodily autonomy is just self determination, not just individually, but as a people and so being able to sustainably and self sustainably serve birthing people. And so, you know, for me specifically, it’s being able, as a Hawaiian, as a Pacific Islander to provide support to other Pacific Islanders and native Hawaiians in a way that’s accessible. To me that is our birthright and, you know, something that hopefully we can achieve soon.
Kimberly Seals Allers
Felicia, what is our Birthright?
Felicia Banks 47:07
Our birthright is to embrace the wisdom and the innate knowledge of our bodies and do what we were intended to do, which is have babies and to raise them right. So we got it, we really have to heal ourselves and also break those cycles, a lot of releasing of the anger and the tribal hurt that we’ve experienced or ancestors have experienced and we have to clear that out so we don’t keep on producing what we’re producing.
Kimberly Seals Allers
Thank you all for joining me for this powerful episode.
Season Two of Birthright is funded by the California Health Care Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund. Birthright is produced by Motor City Woman Studios in Detroit with Kimberly Seals Allers as executive producer, and Alexa Imani Spencer as researcher and assistant producer. Our music is by Dantrel Robinson and we dedicate this season in his memory. And don’t forget to subscribe to Birthright wherever you get your podcasts. Give us a rating and review if you like what you hear. Find episode notes and learn more at www.BirthrightPodcast.com. And don’t forget to like and follow the Birthright podcast YouTube page for exclusive videos and extras. Follow at @iAmKSealsAllers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and please support our Patreon account. Together, we are reclaiming our birthright, one story at a time.
Felicia Banks is originally from Idaho Falls, Idaho and has long had an interest in holistic healing and a natural way-of-life. She graduated as a licensed massage therapist from the College of Massage Therapy at Bingham Memorial Hospital in 2010. While running her own business, she sang in a traveling band, and worked as a nanny and caregiver to an elderly woman before eventually moving to Hawaii in 2019; where she currently lives as a stay-at-home mom.