Your WOW Woman Trixie: Mother, Labor and Delivery Nurse, Future Midwife, New York City

Nominated and Submitted by Esfir Shamilova, Anistla Rugama, Sufina Ali and Jeremy Kamps.

1. Name of the WOW Woman you are nominating.

Trixie Kioko-Kamps.

2. What has she dared to tackle, or done to innovate, achieve, soar, lift-up others, overcome challenges, defy expectations/norms, etc?

Trixie is a Mother, Future Midwife, Labor and Delivery nurse, lover of this one wild and precious life. She arrived to the United States when she was ten years old with her parents and two sisters. They alternated between living in Albany, NY and Baltimore, MD and eventually the family moved back to Kenya where Trixie finished high school. When Trixie was 15, her mother died in a tragic car accident. When we met in university three years later, I remember this having a big impact on her and the theme that emerged for her was making the most with the time that you are given in this world. Seeking a different and more fulfilling vision for her life, Trixie returned to NY as an undergraduate student at SUNY Albany. For the next six years, Trixie vacillated between being a full-time student and a full-time Patient Care Associate at a local hospital. Her academic journey was punctuated with gaps and financial hardships, she had to take semesters off to save up for tuition. Trixie didn’t have financial assistance to cover her school costs nor the knowledge of how to navigate the system for additional funding. But these challenges weren’t enough to deter Trixie’s from earning a Bachelor’s degree and finally entering the medical world.

It wasn’t until she had a home birth that Trixie decided to begin her journey to becoming a midwife. She wanted to do it as a way to add something that is good and whole and beautiful to this world. Having a home birth crystallized the sacredness of this everyday aspect of humanity and she could see herself sharing her experience with other mothers, helping them give birth in a way that is both emotional and physical. That, she believed, was her calling. Trixie is inspired by the stories of Mary Breckinridge, galloping into the hills of Appalachia to reach the women who were physically far away and did not have access to birth support. Her personal vision is the same as Breckinridge’s but in today’s world the distance is not so much in miles as it is the disparities to equitable care that are born from the social, economic, and racial factors of our time.

Trixie is currently a labor and delivery nurse. When she walks into the birthing room, she immediately builds relationships with every single person there. She connects to future mothers through humor, drawing out life stories, affirmations, challenging when necessary and acting as their guardian angel. Mothers feel safe with her. They name their babies after her (two so far)! She is able to look them in the eye and meet their emotional as well as physical needs in this singular moment of birth. Sometimes she changes the lighting in the room or scents it with lavender to make the moment feel special and monumental. Sometimes she shares a line of poetry. When she walks out, people feel like they’ve known her forever, even if they may never see her again. But if they do, they excitedly shout her name across the street, with open arms. “Do you remember me?'“ She does! Trixie doesn’t see women giving birth as “patients”. She recognizes and celebrates the humanity of the moment. Medical care means nothing without creating meaningful relationship. Afterall, what is more sacred to life and humanity than act of birth? Trixie recognizes and celebrates the heightened and illuminated power of birth and allows the mother and the family to do the same. Whether it’s skin-to-skin or other requests that are important to the mother and parents, Trixie does whatever she can to make sure those wishes are respected. 

3. What are some of the outcomes/results of her accomplishments, actions, causes, etc.?

Trixie just completed her midwifery program and is now working on her clinicals. This has been 10 years in the making! Once she is done, she will be able to take care of women from the moment they conceive to postpartum, she can provide gynecological care and prescribe birth control, among other things. She has helped to deliver almost all of her friends babies - mine, my friend Anistla’s, and others. Those who know her passion, rely on her for counsel in anything baby-related. She is a source of knowledge for those around her.

Furthermore, Trixie cares about access and quality care for all future mothers. In her midwifery studies she noticed a paucity of images of women of color in her textbooks, almost giving the appearance that only white women have babies. In the context of appalling disparity in maternal mortality rates among black women, Trixie found this unacceptable. One of her responses was to put out a call for images of women of color (and their families) in the birthing process to create a base for textbooks and programs to use in the future. She also helped start a program that matches surplus supplies from her hospital with hospitals that lack those same supplies.

4. What can other women learn from her?

Trixie is a powerhouse. She is bold, creative, thoughtful, joyful and one of the most resilient people we know. Her positive attitude is grounded in an unwavering sense of gratitude and realism that is inspiring to me and those lucky enough to have her in their lives. It is no surprise that she has dedicated herself to a career that is equally as dynamic. Trixie’s inner wisdom and grace are beautifully reflected in the ways she handles adversity. Her work demands strong intuition, a solid clinical foundation and most of all, a social consciousness that drives her to reclaim one of the most beautiful experiences in a person's life.

5. Why does she inspire you in particular?

Trixie inspires me because she knows exactly what she wants and does whatever it takes to achieve her goal. It is something quite special to see a woman so completely in her element. It inspires me and those immersed in Trixie’s light to find what we love and go after it. Although Trixie is incredibly humble, we all know just how hard she loves and appreciate how much she gives to all of us. She gives all of her to her family, friends and I’m sure that’s what mothers and newborns feel as well. We are lucky to be loved by her.

To watch her progress as a midwife, see her chronicle stories of all women and births, but in particular women of color, please follow her on Instagram @black.unicorn.midwife