I (Ash) first met Annie back in college when I cast her in a production of Vagina Monologues. Fun footage here. Given our shared appreciation of all things vagina, it came as no surprise, but with much admiration and joy, when I received an email about her new endeavor Conscious Period with co-birther Margo Lang. Natalia and I had been musing over launching our #thisishowiwasborn campaign for some time now, and their courage to launch was just the kick we needed to birth this baby.
So we're off!
Welcome to our first #thisishowiwasborn, where we invite those who are birthing projects of their own to reconnect to their own birth story and learn from where they come from.
Let’s started by talking about BIRTH. HOW WERE YOU BORN?
Annie- My mom would have liked a home birth, but in the late 80s it was just so far out there that my parents opted for a hospital delivery. She wanted to go as natural as possible--she even asked her doctor for a vaginal massage instead of an episiotomy. But once I was over a week late, she ended up being induced because there wasn't enough amniotic fluid anymore. After a lengthy delivery and pushing for two hours, they realized that my head was too big and her OB/GYN, whom she loved and trusted, performed a c-section. My dad says that the second that they opened her up I was just there, looking right up. I went straight to my dad. The nurse told my mom right away “This is a very sensitive baby.” My mom was just so happy I was healthy.
Margo- My parents met in medical school and my mom delivered at the same hospital she did her residency. She knew she was moving along very quickly in her labor but no one believed her because I was her first baby. Everyone was shocked when I was born 45 min later! Because it was so quick, the OBGYN was nowhere to be found so my dad put gloves on and was ready to catch me until a nurse “hip checked” him out of the way. However, there was a medication in my system that stopped my breathing when I was born. My dad insisted on helping and says he was the one to revive me by tapping the bottoms of my feet. In the meantime, my mom was trying to get off the bed to help too even though she hadn’t even delivered her placenta yet. Apparently, it quite a scene. Eventually I started crying… and here I am. I was named after my grandmother.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE STORY?
Annie- Right after I was born, my mom was totally out of it but the first thing she said to my dad was “Well what are we going to do the next time around?” 2 years later I had a sister.
Margo- I think it is really cool that both my parents felt so empowered to help revive me- to own that process and change the situation. Most people don’t have that opportunity.
DID YOU LEARN SOMETHING THAT SURPRISED YOU?
Annie- My mom's biggest take-away from the entire process of having a baby, from first finding out she was pregnant all the way through my birth and infant hood, was to let go of control. I think it's interesting to be able to experience that level of surrender in such transformative situations.
Margo- A funny take away is how different my parents remember the story of what happened- my mom remembers a lot more people around helping with the “reviving” process.
HAS LEARNING ABOUT YOUR OWN BIRTH TAUGHT YOU ANYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF TODAY?
Annie- I’ve always known I’m very sensitive but didn’t know I was perceived like that by other people. It also made me admire my mom a lot more and realize that sometimes you just have to surrender and realize that people and the system aren’t prepared for what you want, but if you persevere and if you hold on to the ultimate purpose of the situation it will all be okay.
Margo- When you find out that you were born not breathing there is this weird sense of ‘I could not be here’. In my mind, my dad saved me when I was born and I’ve always felt very protected by my parents. Knowing that I could be, literally, dying and that they would know how to fix it has been very much a theme for me. That sense of security and knowing they have the tools to fix even what seems to me a very scary situation, makes me feel very safe and protected. And it allows me to take risks because I know at the end of the day they are there for me if something doesn’t go right.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FEARS ABOUT GIVING BIRTH?
Annie- I really want to give birth today and I want everyone to watch!
Margo- I have heard horror stories from a friend that is a medical resident. Crazy things happen to people’s bodies!
TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY BIRTHING
Conscious period is an organic tampon company with a dual giving model. There are two parts to our model- the first is one-for-one- for every box of organic tampons that we sell, we give a box of pads to women that are homeless. But we felt we wanted to take the one-for-one model a step further and address the issue at the root- unemployment- which is why they can’t afford the pads in the first place. Which brings us to the second piece of our business model and what we are currently working on now- crowdfunding to raise enough money to purchase machinery so that we can manufacture the pads locally and employ the same women that we seek to serve in everything from production to packaging to sales, to inventory management.
In addition to our period products, we aim to break the stigma around periods. As it stands now, period products are not covered by food stamps AND they are subject to taxes. We want to help make policy changes by creating a dialogue around menstrual issues and educate women on these issues so they can stand up for themselves.
We all have Brilliant ideas but actually trusting ourselves enough to make something out of them is where a lot of us get stuck. WHAT GAVE YOU THE FINAL PUSH?
Margo- For both of us having a partner- someone with different yet complementary skill sets with whom we felt safe and confident with was super important and made it possible.
Annie- I also think there’s a deep understanding that this is my special way of being of service in this world, and it has snowballed into something way bigger than me. What propels me is deeply knowing that I am using my talents, interests and gifts to bring something forth that can serve other women in line with my ideals.
What’s the labor been like?
Annie- It’s hard and ALOT of work. Our INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN made us feel so vulnerable to everything: from praise to criticism, from people supporting us to people not supporting us. And I think that speaks to what happens when you really follow your dreams. When you follow this idea and believe that you have the unique capacity to make it happen. And that is a really powerful force propelling us forward and collectively. There is a hell of a lot of leg work to go about making it happen but it is really exciting too.
Any favorite #BrilliantBits to share?
Annie- The average woman spends over 100,000 hours menstruating.
Margo- And will use 16,800 tampons in her lifetime (assuming you’re a tampon user)
To learn more about Conscious Period and the work that Annie and Margo are doing go to http://www.consciousperiod.com.
To pre-order or pledge go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/conscious-healthy-period-products-for-all#/
Follow them on instagram and join the #menstrualrevolution: https://instagram.com/consciousperiod/