Today we are launching Expecting More: Dialogues, a series of video conversations that feature deeply personal experiences with some of the most profound challenges Americans face when starting or growing a family. These stories are a catalyst for amplifying solutions.
In the United States the opportunity for birthing people to thrive varies tremendously by place and social circumstance. Birthing people have unique needs and unique vulnerabilities that are often left unaddressed by the people and the systems they depend on. And at the roots of this problem, we are seeing a fundamental lack of empathy.
We hope the Dialogues can serve as a model for what it looks like to listen, reflect, and learn from each other. By centering the voices and lived experiences of individuals and families and layering in key professional perspectives, the Dialogues aim to provide a new paradigm of solving entrenched problems, one that engages alternate perspectives with humility and dismantles long-held power dynamics.
Our first dialogue features three incredible human beings: Bruce McIntyre, founder of SaveARose Foundation, LaShyra “Lash” Nolen, a Harvard Medical School student and class of ‘23 Student Council President, and Chanel Porchia-Albert, Founder and COO of Ancient Song Doula Services.
Bruce’s partner Amber Isaac gave birth to their son Elias this Spring at the height of the surge in COVID-19 infections in the Bronx. Shortly after the delivery Amber died. It was the ultimate consequence in a long pattern of insidious racism that impacted the care she received during her pregnancy.
Bruce describes his hopes as a father, as well as the reality of what he and Amber experienced in unflinching detail. And then he talks about what he is doing about it, amplified by allies in his community and within the medical profession itself. As a doula, Chanel describes the extent of racism she has observed within birth settings, and as a medical student Lash reflects on the ways she is questioning what she is being taught (and what she is not being taught), and pushing medical education to reform.
Collectively, Bruce, Chanel, and Lash highlight a crisis of trust between those in need of care and those providing it, founded in long-standing racism and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They also offer hope by leading us on a better path, one in which the community comes together to support birthing people and the health care system is accountable to respond.
Editorial consultant: Kimberly Seals Allers
Research assistant: Yara Altaher
Research manager: Jocie Fifield
Video editor: Mark Hoelscher