We caught up with mother, wife, birth worker and ceramics artist, Erika Davis and asked her what's inspiring her these days. Here's what she shared....
Your name: Erika Davis
Your pronouns: she/her
Where you live: The Puget Sound
Isobel: Can you tell us a little about your journey becoming a childbirth and postpartum educator?
Erika: Of course! While living in Brooklyn, NY I did a full spectrum doula training with an organization called Ancient Song Doula Collective and began working as a very part-time birth and postpartum doula. When my wife and I relocated to the Puget Sound, and with her support and encouragement I quit my job as a retail manager to work as a birth worker full-time. I worked in the Puget Sound area doing births and working with postpartum families while training to be a Childbirth Educator. The various trainings I took were fine, but tended to be very focused on straight, cis-gender folks with very little, to zero, representation for queer families, single families, Black and POC families. I developed my Childbirth Education Class about 5 years ago and began teaching the year of Covid Year One.
I transitioned away from doing births during the process of IVF. While I really miss witnessing families being born in the birth room, the long hours became too difficult for me. I'm also convinced that at 44, I'll leave the births to the younger folks coming up! All joking aside, working with families becoming parents as a childbirth educator and new families as a postpartum doula is extremely powerful and important work. I've focused my childbirth education work solely on work with queer families, as the vast majority of CBE classes are taught by and for straight folks.
Prior to birth work, I was in the non-profit world and before that, I worked as a retail store manager for a variety if companies.
Isobel: You recently started an account called Pine and Willow. How long have you been doing ceramics and what do you love about it?
Erika: When my wife and I relocated to the Pacific Northwest from NYC 8 years ago we took a pottery class together. She stopped after two sessions and I kept on.
A potter in my community studio hooked me up with a free potter's wheel and another local queer BIPOC potter hooked me up with a deeply discounted kiln. Since having our child, I've shifted from mostly throwing to almost exclusively hand building which is something I'm teaching myself. Having a knowledge of how clay bodies work has been helpful, but there's definitely a learning curve. Working with hand-building allows me to stop and come back more easily than throwing on the wheel. I work from home, which means absolutely nothing with a toddler!
I love the connection with clay through hand building. I learned from a very type A person who had a way of teaching, but hand building allows me to let go of the idea that something has to be perfect. Instead, I can create things more organically and appreciate the subtle and not-so-subtle differences from piece to piece.
Isobel: How do you think being an educator, an artist and a mum informs your sense of style? Has the pandemic changed the way you dress?
Erika: Oy Vey - YES! I LIVED IN comfy clothes from Oddbird and Arq and Bryr Clogs for the entirety of my pregnancy - and much of my early postpartum. But around a year postpartum I started to feel like I'd lost myself a bit and decided to make an effort into getting dressed each day. I'm sure many parents, especially parents who are primary care givers, will relate to the balance of doing what's easy and quick over a bit more effort - putting together an outfit, washing my face (or taking a shower), doing my hair is all an effort while trying to also be an attentive parent, work on my businesses, and be a good wife to my partner. And it felt incredibly important, especially with Postpartum Anxiety and Depression, to make the effort. Dressing now feels like something that gives me power to do the stuff I do every day. When I'm wearing cute jeans or dressing up a t-shirt with a vintage silk scarf I feel better. I'm still exhausted, I may have wiped my pits with a baby wipe vs actually showering, but it helps.
Handbuilding also allows me to sort of wear what I want, vs throwing which can be very messy. And my business as a postpartum doula is usually focused on caring for the people who give birth. So, when I'm in someone's house making them a cup of tea, or guiding them through reconnecting with their cesarean scar, or helping them on a pelvic steam, or making them soup - I can wear what I want. It's usually a bit casual; jeans or pants and a t-shirt. But there's always clogs. Always, always clogs.
Isobel: Do you have any new projects coming in the next month that you'd like to share with us?
Erika: I'm excited about teaching queer Childbirth Education in December. It's a live class, and the space is always super cozy and connected. There's something really special about teaching queer parents to be. When you're in a queer childbirth space you can sort of be yourself. There's no need to discuss "how" you got pregnant or no accidental "Okay, Dads!" from the instructor. I'm also excited about some free workshops for folks who want to get into the doula world in October as well. Folks can find this information on Instagram or my website.
Isobel: What books (music) are you reading (listening to) right now?
Erika: I've been reading a LOT of kid's books lately. We have been into Pheobe Wahl's books, especially Sonya and Her Chickens and Little Witch Hazel. I WISH I could say I'm reading, but I'm not! We've also been doing a lot of listening to classic music. My 2 year old LOVES Bad Bunny, but we're trying to expand her tastes a bit, so we've been doing a lot of listening to Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Etta James, Ella Fitzgereald and Edit Piaf and Josephine Baker.
Isobel: What are your favorite Bryr clogs and why?
Erika: I have 4 pairs of Worker Clogs. I love how they're comfortable right out of the box, they're easy to chase a toddler around in. They're comfortable to wear all day, and the colors help brighten dark and dreary PNW days.
You can follow Erika on her instagram account, @wholebodypregnancy here.
Shop Erika’s closet here: