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    The Birth of a Midwife : : A Journey through Philadelphia, Senegal, & Texas

    I’d like to introduce you to a special woman this Mother’s Day. Barbara Verneus is a mother, entrepreneur, and student. She resides in Philadelphia, PA with her daughter Glorious-Zoelle. Barbara is passionate about attending to women throughout their pregnancy and birth journey through her practice, Tiny & Brave Holistic Services. Women like Barbara are making monumental steps in changing our world for the better. The impact she has on the life of each woman she touches is creating an enormous ripple effect that will touch their children’s children.  Below is her story of motherhood, service, and her aspiration of becoming a Midwife to women who are least likely to receive the gentle care of doulas and midwives. Here is her story.

    My name is Barbara Vernéus and I reside in Philadelphia, PA as a single mother to my daughter Glorious-Zoelle S. Verneus.

    I began doula work in 2003 helping women bring precious life into the world. My journey began with a movie called “Losing Isaiah” starring Halle Berry. Yup! You read correctly, it started with a movie that inspired me to become a midwife. I have volunteered overseas in Senegal, West Africa for the African Birth Collective and in Brooklyn, NY at Dyekora Sumda Midwifery Services as a midwife’s assistant.

    Joy Leading to Purpose : I worked in counseling and human services for years. I enjoyed working with the detained teenagers, teen moms, and homeless women and children. But even though I truly enjoyed the work, I would always hit a wall. It was frustrating to realize that I could only help people to a certain degree. And, more importantly, I had always wanted to work for myself—I detested working for someone else. Working in human services brought me closer to my purpose, but it wasn’t until I had my daughter Glorious-Zoelle that a path started to present itself.

    Barbara’s Experience in Senegal, Africa : Senegal appeared to be a different world from the world we are taught Africa to be. I toured the Pink Lake, went to Tabou where the holy Black Stone is held, and The Door of No Return, where African American ancestors were taken. I even went to a club where they still danced their tribal dances. If I could, I would reside somewhere in the land of Africa with my daughter. I loved learning from the midwives and how intuitive they were with the limited supplies they had. Senegal was where I saw my first infant death, from a mother with polio. Even in that tragedy I was still compelled to become a midwife. I knew any death of an infant was wrong and shouldn’t have to happen.

    Purpose Rooted in Passion : When I entered back into doula work in 2015 I knew I wanted to help young women become knowledgeable about their pregnancy and know that they have choices in how to deliver their baby. Sometimes I may just approach a mother in my neighborhood and ask her if she knows what a doula is and start a convo from there. I currently offer affordable doula care within my Philadelphia community to those who are facing financial hardship but still desire my [doula] services. In addition, I offer doula services for free to teenage mothers. In Philadelphia, PA I’ve encountered a huge increase in teenage mothers, and this grieves me.

    Birthing of a Midwife : It was hard for me to make that leap. I struggled with the idea of becoming a midwife for a few reasons: I was intimidated by the science classes, the amount of time it would take, and accumulating more loans and debt. But I kept coming back to becoming a counseling midwife. In moving towards making my dreams a reality the only place that looked promising was Texas; it appears that Texas is the mecca of the birth world. Being a single mother, living with roommates, and barely making ends meet, I knew it was worth it to take that leap to do something I love and be so handsomely rewarded for it. I do have fears of how being Black will affect my career, but I’ll deal with that as it comes.

    The Future is Bright : I will be part of the first established doula practice, proudly providing my services to families at North Dallas Associates, while apprenticing towards becoming a Certified Professional Midwife. If you are in the Dallas, Texas area and in need of a doula, I will be accepting clients starting the month of August.

    Barbara is currently raising money for her midwifery schooling here. In exchange for your support you will receive a personal copy of the documentary Catching Babies which was filmed along the US-Mexico border and follows the unique journey of four student midwives studying at Maternidad La Luz. 


    anjelica malone