Monday, February 25, 2013

The Legacy of Ida Mae

As I frantically prepare for clinicals, working my way through an impossible semester, awaiting a second of two back to back blizzards, I'll steal a moment to daydream (or in this case 5am dream) about the future "Ida Mae Patterson Perinatal Health Disparities Symposium"  Now the only place this symposium exists, so far, is in my head.  But hopefully that will change come 2014 when I've secured funding to pull this off and invite my Sisters from around the country, in the front line work of battling health disparities in our community to join me (its free of charge in the daydream).  I'm hoping our midwest placement will make it a great annual draw.  Ida Mae was my grandmother, sometime midwife and mother of 24.  Only nine of her children survived to adulthood. Yes, thats 15 perinatal losses! Her life personifies the health disparities issue, which is why I am proud to name the symposium after her,  I think back to the story of how, as she was giving birth to her first baby, her friend who was there to help, shrank back in fear as the baby became tangled in her cord, but my grandmother, undeterred reached down, untangled the baby and brought her to her chest.  She did what had to be done. That is my inspiration.  We must reach to save ourselves.  No one else can or should do it for us.   I envision this as a venue where folks from across the nation can come and have a meaningful and productive and continuing dialog about perinatal health disparities in our country.  There are many conversations about this already going on, but we must lift high the voices of those who represent the communities most impacted by these disparities.  Our best solutions will come from within.  It is up to us to show others what appropriate care looks like.  That is my aim with this symposium; to showcase grassroots community-based strategies and solutions.