My name is Tijuana Ray, I am originally from Augusta, Georgia. Augusta is known for its big golf tournament held every year known as the Masters but to me, it’s just home. I am the oldest of my two sisters. I have four children, two sons, and two daughters. My sons are 22 and 26 and, my daughters are 7 and 8. Indeed I started over. When I moved to Atlanta Georgia 13 years ago, I met my husband and we fell in love. We got married a year after dating and had our first daughter 3 years later.
With all my children I had a C-section birth. While in labor with my first pregnancy I found out he was breech. There was not a lot of time to ask questions and honestly, I did not know the questions to ask. However, I was assured that if I had another child, I would be able to have a vaginal birth. Four years later I was having my second child and to my surprise, my doctor said, when would you like to schedule your c-section? C- section, I wanted to have this one vaginally, wasn’t that the plan. My doctor stated your second baby is usually bigger than the first and, he did not recommend a vaginal birth. What a letdown, I felt cheated, but what could I do. I scheduled my surgery and had a healthy baby boy. Fast forward to my oldest daughter’s birth same doctor another C-section. After that, I found myself pregnant for the fourth time. This time I had a different doctor, a female doctor. She looked at options with me and she discovered my pelvis is tilted. What does that mean? It means a vaginal birth would have been impossible. Really, I was hearing this for the first time at age 36. I had been going to the same doctor since I was 18 years old and he never told me anything about my pelvis being tilted. Meanwhile, my sister was seeing the same male doctor and he did not discover she was suffering from fibroids. She eventually changed doctors and all four of her fibroids were discovered immediately. I questioned were women OB doctors better? Did he have our best interest at heart? Can I trust him? Currently, I am still seeing the same female doctor and she has also discovered I have adenomyosis something I have been suffering from for years. As a patient, we all want to feel like we have options and our doctors genuinely care for us. Looking back, I am not so sure that was the case.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter back in 2011, that was the first time I had heard of a doula. I started doing the research on doula’s and I knew this was my calling. I would look for classes in my area and unfortunately, they were always out of state. Trying to raise my family while juggling a newborn and a toddler I could not find the time to attend a class out of state. As a mom, I put my dream on hold to be there for my family. Occasionally I would get an email regarding an upcoming class, but it never seemed like the right time.
Before I knew it, my oldest son had graduated high school and I was looking at colleges with my youngest son. Man, was I busy, but I told myself I had time. I looked up and 5 years had passed, and I was turning 40. My one definite thing was my family until my husband of 8 years asked for a divorce. I was floored my whole life was turned upside down within minutes. I had to start completely over, trying to find who I was, what I enjoyed, and how was I going to pull my life together. In searching for myself I got an email about a doula class. I said this time I am going to do it! I begin researching schools and what each school had to offer. I watched a YouTube review about Bebo Mia and I knew that was the school for me. Bebo Mia offers so many specialties, they even offer bundle classes. Which means you get to combine two specialties. I can be very indecisive at times and having those options took away the anxiety of making the correct choice for me.
As a single mom, the thought of winning a scholarship was my chance to make my dream a reality. I told myself, this is your time if you want this you must be willing to fight for it. I wanted to prove to myself that I can still accomplish my dreams, I thought back to my younger self being told I needed a C-section and not knowing my rights, or what questions to ask. I wanted to show my daughters some girl power. That even when life does not work as planned, we find a way to stand back up and move forward.
Now that I have won the BMC (Black Mom Connection) scholarship I want to be a voice for all women with an emphasis on the black and brown community.
My business plan is to partner with local hospitals and offer birthing classes, resources, and support that can help build a new parent’s confidence. I also want to let black and brown women know I stand with them in get them quality prenatal care, and ensuring their voice is heard. I want to stand beside them in the delivery room and ensure they have the safest birth experience possible. I want birth parents to know they have a voice; I want to show them how to use that voice to do what is best for them, even if at that moment doing nothing is best. Show them how to listen to their body, and most of all I want my clients to know that no matter where they are in life they can bloom right where they are.
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