building a community in an isolated location
Christy Vasquez-Googe, Chapter Leader MCAGCC 29 Palms
I am the wife of an active duty Marine and I am also an IBCLC. I volunteer my services through MBRN at our support groups. Additionally, I work for the base library. (Pretty much just helping military and their families find what they need in all ways possible!) We are currently stationed in MCAGCC 29 Palms.
What inspired you to take on the task of running a MBRN Chapter?
This is our second time being stationed here in 29 Palms. The first time I really struggled finding the evidenced based breastfeeding information I needed with nursing my son. I almost quit because I was experiencing so much pain and no one could help me. I found that a good support network of other mothers and birth workers could really encourage a desperate mom like myself. I learned more about research and resources in our area, and when we came back 6 years later, I really wanted to help show others that this beautiful desert isn’t actually desolate! There are so many resources here and so many ways to get the things you need for your family.
What support do you find many military families lack?
Being one of the more “isolated” bases, we lack a little of everything. Currently, we lack enough breastfeeding support, doulas, support groups, and single parent support. While we do have these resources, the need outweighs the availability.
Military families in general are very resilient and resourceful! I learn new things from my neighbors and my community members all the time! Most new parents or young families are surprised at all of the things being offered just for their military family! From scholarships, to base wide baby showers, ball gown giveaways etc. It’s just a matter of connecting and showing people where the resources are. Moving every 3 years really means starting over finding the things your family loves or needs.
What are some challenges military families have during pregnancy and childbirth?
Pregnancy and childbirth are such special times! Many military families don’t always get to participate in these huge life events as a full unit. Often the active duty member is away training or deployed. Additionally, the luxury of your extended family being close by to help out in those early days and years is never guaranteed! Not to mention the unexpected (and expected) duty station changes. Often times these PCS's can happen when you’ve just welcomed home a new baby, or when you are due any minute!
What kind of impact have you seen with families since being in the community?
I have definitely seen my presence as a positive one. I have worked hard to tell people what MBRN is, and I can see that the name is getting around. I really love seeing our 4th trimester group meet the first and third Fridays of the month! Watching how it has grown and seeing these moms become friends has really been my favorite part of MBRN so far. They share so much and have really built a community; this type of bond will be something they search for at their next duty stations, too! Military life is so unique, sharing the trials and tribulations with others who know what it’s like is a must to make the most out of it!
What is something inspiring about you? Share with us some of your volunteer accomplishments.
We were stationed in Okinawa, Japan, when I became pregnant with my daughter. During my pregnancy we learned that my husband had cancer. To make it even more crazy, we learned this while he was training out of the country in Korea. This was one of the most trying times of our entire lives. We were faced with so many obstacles. The birth of my daughter reignited my confidence and empowered me in a way that only a beautiful birth can. She gave me the strength to push through! I truly want all families to feel this empowerment! To know that they are taken care of and that there are people near that really want to help. Actually, since I’ve become a breastfeeding specialist and later an IBCLC most of my “work” has been volunteer work. I volunteered in labor and delivery and pediatrics full time for years! I now volunteer through support groups and MBRN.
Do you have a final word of advice for our community?
DO NOT GIVE UP!! There is always a way to get what you need. Its OK to feel unsure or intimidated, but never let that stop you from meeting your goals! And there is always someone around who wants to help.