Kindra reached out to me after seeing the post that Libby (from a few weeks ago) shared through social media. I've only had a few people volunteer to participate in this, so those interactions feel like brand new territory. I consider it an honor to meet people for the first time through this project and this interaction with Kindra only confirms that truth. I met her at her office at Mandala Midwifery and immediately felt comfortable and calm with her. Kindra is an only parent and I was raised by a single mom and that tends to bring out some very unique emotions in me. So... I have my mom in mind for this whole story.
Who are you?
My name is Kindra Kennedy and I am a lot of different things. Being the only parent of my 5-year old son probably, I hope, takes priority over everything else. And then I am a midwife, which comes with a lot of different hats. I'm a healthcare provider, a counselor in some sort of sense, a janitor sometimes, a babysitter sometimes, a friend a lot of times. It comes with a lot of different roles. I was born at home and then my siblings were all born at home and then I ended up training with the midwife who delivered me. So that was a really special relationship and learning experience and her and I are still in contact. So I have a lot of hope for the babies I deliver. What else? Daughter, sister, cousin, niece, a lot of things.
My mom studied to be a nurse in school before she had kids and so she was exposed to the hospital system and hospital births. It was in the late '70s when midwifery was really becoming kind of like a revolution in the hippie community or whatever. I don't remember if she was studying to be a midwife before she got pregnant or afterwards, but she chose a home birth for her first child who was born in Roseburg, Oregon. And then they moved down to Flagstaff, Arizona, where I was born. When I was born, I refused to breathe for about 13 minutes and the midwife that delivered me had to use her skills and knowledge and save my life, basically. And I'm pretty convinced if I'd have been born in the hospital and my cord was cut right away, I would have probably died. So home birth is pretty close to my personal story. And my mom had three more kids at home and somewhere along the way decided she was too busy to be a midwife. So she was obviously thrilled when I came to her and said, "I think I want to be a midwife." She said, "Of course you do." (Laughs) She's known that about me forever. It's kind of been in my blood.
What brought you to Bend?
My aunt and uncle lived in Bellingham, Washington, and they moved here when their sons were in high school. My grandmother hosted a family reunion in Sunriver. I was pregnant at the time so it must have been about six years ago. Of course, it's like August in Bend, and we all fell in love with Bend - the whole family. We all kind of scattered back to our homes and started researching. I looked up all the midwifery practices and was thinking about where I could get a job. My younger sister got pregnant and decided she wanted to be closer to family but not necessarily back where she was born, so she decided to move here. I remember that night, my mom and I got that phone call, she said, "I'm moving to Bend." So her and I decided we would start making that move towards coming here. Then everybody else, my grandma moved here, my brothers both moved here (laughs), so we ended up with a lot of people here. A couple of my cousins from Illinois have also moved here. So we are kind of increasing the population (laughs) of Bend with our family.
How do you contribute to the community?
I feel like, as a midwife especially, I get deep, deep rooted in communities really fast. I know our community gets accused often of being kind of monocultural where we don't have a lot of diversity as far as race goes. But as a health care provider here, I see a huge range of diversity within our population. And I really appreciate the different cultures that live here - where you have the kind of thriving west side culture and then this whole other culture on the east side of town and another culture down in Deschutes River Woods. We serve people from all over that are rich and diverse in their monocultural-we're-all-white-people (laughs) kind of way. There's a lot of diversity within that. But then that similarity of loving this space and the energy here and the outdoors and that commitment to health is fun to be a part of, fun to watch.
I was born into this heart of service. We talk about that a lot in our practice - being of service to others. And birth work just calls so loudly, I guess, to me - to be of service to families here. To help them grow their own families and really to help them be empowered for their own decision making and their own control as parents. And then, you know, my son lives here. My son is growing here. And so I want this community to be healthy and thriving for him as he grows. For him to have a place where he can be of service to other people, where he can be in a community that respects him and sees him. That's been a fun new adventure this year - trying to find a school for him to go to because he just turned five. So we've been interviewing all the magnets and charters and finding where his community is, which is not always mine (laughs). Coming to Bend and kind of having that community right away of moms, you know, is kind of where I started. Because I had a kid, so I could go to all the moms groups and do all that stuff and start making connections there. And now, of course, I feel like I know a lot of people doing community building and community resourcing and serving this community in all kinds of different ways. It's fun to watch all of their projects grow.
In Flagstaff, I had been a midwife there for a number of years already, and I had a really rich, thriving, female community. But I knew almost no men that I hung out with regularly for my son to emulate. You know? My stepdad was close, but that was pretty much it. And he's a fantastic role model and a really huge presence in my son's life, but here, you know, we were looking at having my uncle, my stepdad, my two brothers, two male cousins, my sister's husband - so I really wanted him to have that rich male community here. I really feel for the single moms who don't have support and really are doing it alone, because I never really felt like I was doing it alone in that way. My mom was there right away. She was the safety net that caught us. And then coming here, living with my aunt and uncle, we have so much support from them.
Do you have a favorite memory from here?
Any time we are on the river are good memories. We go there a lot in the summer with family and friends and getting to see my son get to have that in his life every single day... where I got it a lot when I was growing up in the Southwest, but we certainly didn't have a river in town. We have summer barbecues a lot when the whole family is here. We have a lot family brunches out on the porch in our backyard and that kind of thing. There's also so much richness of the outdoors around here that the solitude is not hard to find if you need it. So we do that, too.
What do you wish for the future?
For myself and my son, within our community, I think more cultural diversity would be welcome. If we could somehow attract, as a community, a more diverse population. Or more integration within the diversity that's here. You know there are plenty of hispanic people here that are sort of isolated, I think, and I wish we did a better job of integrating them. My son is going to go to, I think, the Bend International School, just trying to create more of that global community within our community. Professionally, that is always something we're thinking about as midwives is how to integrate the community between the hospital and home birth communities - how to make that system work better. And how to make it more fluid so that there's not such a separation of not just within the professional community, but within the moms themselves. If you choose hospital but I choose home and that somehow makes us really different. I just hope that there's more understanding and integration in that system professionally. I guess the big answer is integration.
I feel like this community is fantastic. I'm really deeply involved in the parenting community, in the mother community, where there's the Moms Co-op and then there's Moms Meet Up of Central Oregon and there's so many things for moms to do and ways to connect in our community. And, especially as a midwife, I feel like I'm just like resourcing people to all of these place. It's great that there's so much support here for parents and growing families, which is part of why I moved here.