Supporting Queer Families with Knowledge: Meet Carly Ainlay
Posted on March 21st, 2019
For the Fall 2018 Doula Maternal Support Practitioner Program Scholarship at bebo mia inc we had some amazing applicants and are thrilled to present our winners’ submissions. With the help of some incredible sponsors like Olivia Scobie & community partners we were able to offer 7 Scholarships to our combined fertility, birth and postpartum doula training. Last year, we also welcomed four new people to the team, in the form of our very own Scholarship Committee!
Today we are pleased to introduce you to the recipient of the Fall 2018 Bebo Mia “Be Brave” award, which recognizes an applicant whose lived experience has afforded them a deeper understanding of their worth and potential. The recipient demonstrates this connection through their resilience of spirit, positive attitude, and willingness to meet challenges head-on. Their business plan and personal goals reflects the spirit of bebo mia’s mission: to connect women** to their intrinsic value and power through excellent, evidence based doula care, prenatal and/or childbirth education – Carly Ainlay.
Throughout my life, I’ve been a champion and ambassador for under-represented folks and community connection. In university, I performed in The Vagina Monologues and organized a companion educational conference. I worked as a peer sexual health educator and as a Residence Don, and ran a canoe-tripping program for young people experiencing social, behavioural and economic challenges. After university, I volunteered as a telephone counsellor for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre. For 10 years I worked as a professional fundraiser to raise funds and awareness for causes I care about.
I have also always wanted to have a baby of my own.
For YEARS I struggled with my own LGBTQ identity for a variety of reasons, and in hindsight, part of that struggle for me was because I thought that heteronormativity was the path to a family that looked like what I knew.
But when I started to realize I couldn’t run from my own truth anymore, it became so important for me to see representations of different kinds of families, and it filled my heart with hope that I might still be able to have the life and love that I have always wanted.
During my journey of self-discovery, I took my life in a new direction and relocated to Newfoundland for work. I moved there without really knowing anyone, and was relentless about building community and designing my life to fulfill my love of the outdoors, music, and connection. In Newfoundland, I saw the kinship of women who banded together to raise large families when men were away (either historically, out on fishing boats, or more recently, working in oil offshore or out west). After growing up in Toronto with multiple large hospitals, it was learning for me to see some Newfoundlanders in rural communities who didn’t always have ready access to healthcare, and to see the ways that community helps to care for one another in different ways.
Receiving the Be Brave scholarship means so much to me and acknowledges that even though I have been through a lot in my life, I have found the strength within myself and my chosen community to move forward and learn through the power of healing.
I have survived sexual assault and endured workplace sexual harassment, and, in the last year alone, I have sustained heartbreak and job restructure in quick succession. But one of my biggest challenges in the last few years was leaving my life in Newfoundland and returning to Toronto. There were so many things I loved about Newfoundland, but, for a variety of reasons, I reached a point where it was time to come back to my own family and to a larger queer community. I had to dig deep into myself to bring myself back before I was ready; two weeks before I was set to move, my car was rear-ended and I suffered from whiplash and post-concussion symptoms. As an active, athletic person, it was humbling, frustrating and scary not to have my health. Although I am still not pain-free, I am grateful for the kindness and patience of the practitioners that I worked with during my recovery.
As a queer woman, representation means a lot to me, especially because I have been in work environments where I could not be myself, and it did me a lot of damage. As a result, I’ve been making a deliberate decision to redirect my career priorities to environments where I can be authentic, and where inclusion is celebrated.
I like to spend my time and money with organizations that align with my values and that make active efforts to define and demonstrate their values through promotion AND practice. I am so grateful to receive the Be Brave scholarship, which will allow me to pursue this path. And I’m especially interested in working with bebo mia, which offers such an inclusive perspective on families and wellness. I feel represented by the bebo mia approach, and I know that I will take that authentic practice out into the world and join a larger community of like-minded folks.
As a queer person who struggled for years to accept myself, build community, and recognize the kind of representation I needed to see, I’m especially passionate about the possibility of supporting queer families.
Once certified, I’m interested in working with queer families in a variety of capacities. Fertility support is often an essential step for queer families, and I’d love to empower folks by lending knowledge and support throughout their journey. I also would like to offer some specific support in navigating the healthcare system, where folks might not feel represented or safe to liaise with other healthcare practitioners. I’ve spent a decade of my previous work life championing, educating, negotiating and leading courageous conversations and I’d like to bring these skills to empower birthers & families to ensure that they have the support that they need. I have a very kind and open approach, and I know that I can empower people to identify and speak up for their own needs, or act as a bridge when needed.
I believe in supporting people to make their own choices before, during and after birth, and I am excited to help people champion and process their own experience in ways that make them feel powerful, resilient and capable. I have so much love and respect for everyone on a pregnancy journey, and I see myself as a friendly advocate for a person’s own intuition — sometimes we just need someone to give us permission to trust ourselves.
bebo mia’s mission is to connect women* to their intrinsic value & power. One of the ways we aim to do this is by offering the most comprehensive combined fertility, birth & postpartum doula training! Our team of instructors are diverse, interesting, committed to social justice & super funny.
Collectively we are committed to changing the landscape of birth experiences across the globe.