Circles of Support in Viral-War Time

Olneyville Sunset

Team BIF has been working from home all week, and it looks like it will be this way for awhile. We are working out the kinks, but so far, not too bad. Of course complicating matters, we, like many full time working women, including the women in LunaYou, also have caregiving responsibilities, Three of us have school age children (and younger) at home, and all five women have gotten that call from a parent in the last three months that something is wrong and our assistance is needed. But we are strong, tough, and dedicated to both work and family. Statistics tell us, in this nation, we are not alone.

All of the components in the LunaYou program, Personal Empowerment, Circles of Support, Trusted Spaces, and Measuring Wellbeing encourage women to tell their stories and ask for help when needed. I can tell you personally that this is not easy. In support and solidarity with the women in LunaYou, I have made a pledge to myself that I would share more, work out loud, and develop a Circle of Support. I do truly believe the path to Wellbeing has to include sharing your story, otherwise science tells us the stress of caregiving will take a serious physical and emotional toll on our bodies.

Sharing My Story

On February 25th my mother called me to tell me she was just diagnosed with breast cancer. For me, there is nothing like a crisis to spur me to action. I immediately called someone in my circle (I did something right!) and asked for the name of a surgeon. One week later we were in the doctor’s office and she was describing the partial mastectomy she would perform on my mother at Women and Infants Hospital. Women and Infants also happens to deliver over 75% of the babies born in RI, including those whose families are part of the LunaYou program.

My mother had an additional test and two more procedures in prep for the surgery, All the while COVID-19 is getting closer. Late last week she told me that she had gone to the hospital to have one of the procedures and they would not let my step-father in the door, I knew it was coming, just not this soon.

Notice Posted on Hospital Website

I asked my mother to check with the nurses, about someone coming in with her to be there while she had the surgery. I got the answer I feared, no one is allowed into the hospital with her at the time of her surgery. How can you be a caregiver, in someone’s Circle of Support, and not go with that person to the hospital? My mother on the other hand was completely at peace, she just wanted the whole thing over. At BIF, we design experiences, it was time to get creative. It was all relatively easy, the surgeon would call me immediately after surgery was complete, I would call my step-father, and brother. My mother once she was awake would put me on a conference call with the nurse to review discharge papers. The one thing I was struggling with was that moment of walking in the door alone. So while trying to respect physical distancing, this is what I did.

I am grateful to Women & Infants Hospital for their visitor policy and keeping my mother safe. Her surgery went well and she is home recovering. But, as I drove away from the hospital yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of the women in LunaYou, who at this time are allowed only one support person with them into the hospital when they give birth, and I am convinced of LunaYou, and convinced we need to re-think how we support each other. #iAmLunaYou