The Echo of the Beginning: Gathering Birth Stories

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Working together with the Zaagichigaazowin Home Visiting Program at the Red Cliff Community Health Center and Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin, we gathered local stories about birth and parenthood. Local public health leader and former Digital Storytelling participant, Isaiah Brokenleg joined Jen to co-facilitate. We held a three-day workshop in the health clinic, helped juggle the babies so their parents could focus on writing, and the participants created 10 different stories about birth, from the perspectives of moms, dads, new parents and elders. They told about experiences of birth while surrounded by family and friends or while completely alone. Times when they felt supported in their decisions and times when they felt judged.  And above all, showed us through their stories and images how our expectations of birth and parenthood so rarely match the reality.  These are important topics that affect many parent’s lives but, as the maternal health program noticed, we need new ways to start taking about them. Why not start with our stories?  After the digital stories were created, we held a public screening event at the local casino to celebrate everyone’s hard work and share with the community. We then created a discussion guide, customized for those particular stories and produced and packaged 100 DVDs to be distributed and used throughout the community as a way to engage and support new and expectant parents.