APPPAH: A Love Letter

Oh, APPPAH!

In spite of your lengthy name-- the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, to be exact-- your mission is simple: to empower families and those who support them. We are endlessly proud to be part of your mission and your family! Each year that we attend your conference and follow your progress, we are astounded by your accomplishments and your ever-reaching goals.

Your conference in Seattle this year spoke to me (Anna, hello!) profoundly, although I could only attend one day. Walking into the conference hall at Bastyr University was like walking into my grandmother’s kitchen: a flurry of activity punctuated by the warmest hugs I’d received since I moved to this cloudy city three months ago. Everyone shared a sense of purpose and curiosity, yearning to share what they knew and learn what they didn’t. The familiar faces were as comforting as family, the the new faces all held the promise of expanding my mind and heart...

The gathering of like-minded individuals is always powerful in its own right, but this year’s conference seemed especially poignant: as Calm Birth grows as an international program, it seems that APPPAH is doing the same, and with profound benefits. What other regional conference gathers people, from all walks of life, fascinated by the confluence of psychology and  pre and perinatal healthcare? I spent time with individuals from Budapest to San Salvador-- including the mayor himself, and his extraordinary wife-- all united with a passion for bringing power and heart to the neglected, the traumatized, and, yes, the hopeful new and growing families.

Me, Zsuzsanna, Sandra Bardsley, and Gabriella 

Me, Zsuzsanna, Sandra Bardsley, and Gabriella 

Is anyone more important on this planet than those who are forming our very future? APPPAH says no, and we at Calm Birth agree. While there is no easy solution to the challenges faced for parenting and childbirth professionals, the confluence of the passionate experts represented in APPPAH goes to show that an easy solution isn’t what’s needed: it’s many people working together, like bees in a golden hive.

I remember how, during my first conference in 2013, I could not quite believe that the people I was meeting actually did what they claimed to outside of the gathering. Did sweet, humble Sandra really meet with the UN on a regular basis? Did Gabriella, a fiery woman not much older than me, really run a prenatal-to-childhood care center in El Salvador? Was Kate, with her gentle speech and big brown eyes, really going to design an online certification course for students around the globe? How could these calm, kind, compassionate, but evidently normal people that I was talking to have delivered thousands of babies, written books, and changed the lives of so many people?

This year, I was still hit with that astonishment, but also with the understanding that it was entirely possible that these people did what they said, and more. The world is changing, and the individuals who are effecting change aren’t cloistered in some lonely wooden tower: they are part of society. Their hands soothe the aching backs of laboring women and the fragile heads of new babies, and then they take those same nurturing fingers to their keyboards and disseminate their knowledge so that even more people may benefit.

An image from Kate's fabulous PowerPoint

An image from Kate's fabulous PowerPoint

 

Yes, Kate really has created an online pre and perinatal educator course, and in the meantime, she has helped families heal trauma through somatic therapy. Yes, Jennie Joseph really did create a prenatal care center that has drastically lowered the rate of pre-term delivery in at-risk people, simply because they have someone to talk to-- and yet she was here, at the conference, explaining how others could do this, too. Yes, Vincent Filetti developed the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scale that is implemented in therapies around the world, but he also took the time to speak us because he, too, sees the value of extending this to the prenatal period.

 

Why does it astound me so that people can, indeed, “do it all,” as well as “be it all”--  compassionate, intelligent, kind, charismatic, authentic? Perhaps because, as a relatively young person in the world of childbirth, taking this all on seems daunting. If I didn’t have any role models, I would certainly never believe that it was possible to be a global force for healing, even though I am already reaching people around the world through our Skype teacher trainings. At this distance, it can still feel intangible. Anyone with a mission to help effect positive change, whether it’s as a parent, a business owner, a student, a teacher, a midwife, or simply as a human being trying to follow the Golden Rule, has been hit with the thought: “I can’t do this alone.” And it’s organizations like APPPAH that reminds us that we don’t have to. We are all working together to build a better world. This isn’t just the best way to do this-- it is the only way.

After the conference: Gabi, Zsuzsanna, myself, and Nayib the Space Needle! Yes, we did make it to the top-- a nice surprise and a great metaphor! 

After the conference: Gabi, Zsuzsanna, myself, and Nayib the Space Needle! Yes, we did make it to the top-- a nice surprise and a great metaphor! 

 

Whether you are a birth professional, a parent, a psychologist, or just curious about how early life experience impacted you and how you might heal it, I highly recommend joining APPPAH’s mission. You will learn, you will grow, you will heal-- and, by doing so, you will be contributing to a better tomorrow.


Thank you, APPPAH, for your decades-long dedication to those who can’t speak for themselves. We look forward to a long and bright future together.