My name is Karima Pettigrew. I’m a 32-year-old fraternal twin from Newark, Delaware. I love to sing and play guitar, as well as spending most of my spare time writing books. I was raised by a deaf single parent and I’m fluent in ASL. I identify as a black lesbian cis-gendered woman. As a kid, and into my teens I was bullied for not being “black enough” and for being a lesbian before I understood my own sexuality and years ahead of finally coming out during my Senior year of high school. Since then, I’ve made a strong point to be a support system for young LGBTQ youth.
I’ve always been a nurturer. From being my sister’s “protector”, to mentoring the young kids and teens in my personal life or professionally when I worked in retail stores. We’re living in a time where we want to be loved and feel like someone is looking out for us and has our back. I grew up wanting that for myself and as an adult, I never want to let anyone have that experience if I can help it.
Why did you apply for this scholarship?
I applied for a scholarship because I’ve wanted to study and learn about birth work for the last few years. Unfortunately, my income doesn’t afford me the extra funds to afford a certification course. I don’t need to have one in order to work as a doula in my state, but I believe that helping people bring life in the world and provide support for them postpartum requires the knowledge, tools, and community that come with a full certification in maternal support.
Why Bebo Mia?
I attended a Webinar with Bebo Mia last fall, and I loved the chemistry between Bianca and Natasha and their enthusiasm about birth work made the night a positive and inspiring one to be part of. I love their inclusiveness, especially where it concerns the BIPOC community. I’ve heard from doulas of color in a Facebook group that I joined a few months ago that they enjoyed their training with Bebo Mia and with such a small group of certification programs that are both BIPOC AND LGBTQ friendly, I knew that this would be a good fit for me. I’ve felt like family since the first Webinar and now I feel even closer since I’ve started this course!
Why do you want to be a birth worker?
I was inspired to become a birth worker about three years ago after I saw a video on Facebook about doula and her client who had an unplanned home birth. I love how calm and encouraging this doula was with her client and how she invited all of the women in her client’s “village” to come and celebrate the new life she was going to bring into the world. That intimate moment has stayed with me for all these years and I can’t wait to be able to impart a moment like that with future clients.
Another video that I watched involved a deaf woman who hired two deaf doulas and shared her past experiences with childbirth in a hospital and how the doctors did the bare minimum when it came to providing interpreters for her during her birth. She and the doulas talked about how there is no alternative to having an in-person interpreter and having experienced that with my own mom while growing up, I agree so much with them. Deaf and Hard of Hearing people are still (even in 2020!) disregarded when it comes to providing sufficient communication. They’re still expected to somehow “meet in the middle” with hearing people. They’re always asked, “Can you read lips?” instead of just taking the initiative and writing down the message if they don’t know ASL, or even just learning basic ASL to get by in situations where it may be needed.
Bringing life into the world is something that no person should have to do alone. There is no greater feeling than being in a position of vulnerability like giving birth and not understanding what’s happening around you. It can be scary and frustrating and all I want is to help a birth giver to be calm and understood and empowered.
What are your plans after the program?
I honestly get giddy thinking about my future in birth work! I’ve thought about doing this for so long and now that I’m finally taking the steps toward this passion, I feel so ready to this. I’d like to take in as much information as possible in the areas of antepartum, labor, and postpartum birth support. After the program, I plan to start off as a postpartum doula while I’m working full time. Within three years I’d like to also work as an antepartum/labor doula. My hope is to be a doula full time!
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