Our "Birth" Story
As is the case in any birth, serendipity played key role in beginning Sistering CU. In the fall of 2015 almost simultaneously, but still independently, co-founders Dorie Geissler and Erin Murphy contacted a mutual friend and doula with their concerns about the lack of postpartum care for new moms and ideas as to how to address the issues. Once the mutual friend put them in touch with one another bonds of friendship and collaboration formed quickly. Over the course of 2015, Geissler and Murphy researched postpartum care as well as similarly established organizations across the United States, most of which generously offered resources and advice. They networked with and learned from local nonprofits, doulas, researchers, and boosters as well. Finally, after almost a year of planning and organizing, they registered Sistering CU as a nonprofit and have begun fundraising and recruiting volunteers to serve the local Champaign County community.
Our name, Sistering CU is inspired by Glennon Doyle Melton's (momestary.com) metaphorical use of the term. There is a term in carpentry called Sistering. Sometimes an existing joist, which was designed to handle a certain load, becomes too weak. When a builder needs to strengthen that joist, she puts a new member on either side of the the original one and fastens them together. The new - stronger joist - is called a Sister Joist. Like sister joists in carpentry strengthen weakened structures, we want to be there to provide extra structural support for families in the first few months after birth.
Sistering - by Glennon Doyle Melton
Erin L. Murphy, Co-Founder
Erin’s interest in the care of new moms initially began after learning about postpartum care in European countries. Given the emphasis on family values in the United States, the absence of any such programs here made her wonder: why was there no culture of postpartum care in the United States? And, a seed was planted. Years later, Erin had two boys of her own. She experienced the importance of postpartum support firsthand as she recovered from pregnancies riddled with complications, cesarean births, and difficulties with breastfeeding. As Erin’s body healed and she bonded with her babies in the midst of intense sleep deprivation, she imagined how hard it would be to care for her babies and herself without the help she received. Knowing many new families have no choice but to care for their infants without any support and understanding what that meant as a new mom, she developed a more focused personal and professional interest in new moms and families, from the physical and emotional recovery from birth to the stresses involved in transitioning to employment.
Erin received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Illinois. She has focused her academic career on the historical inequalities of race, class, and gender in the United States and social change. Her personal interests include cuddling with her boys, sleeping, reading, yoga, whale-watching, star-gazing, and live music. Originally from Central Illinois, Erin has always found peace in a blazing sunset over the prairie while listening to the hypnotic call of a Redwing blackbird.
Dorie Geissler, Co-Founder
Dorie’s passion to help new families developed through her own birth experience. After delivering her first child, she suffered a severe postpartum hemorrhage, fell and hit her head in the hospital and got a concussion. Just a day later she was sent home to care for her newborn. Without a support network in place, Dorie began trying to do it all immediately upon coming home – caring for her son, running a household, entertaining family and friends – neglecting her need to recuperate. Physically and emotionally depleted, at a few weeks postpartum, she found herself sitting on the porch sobbing and entertaining suicidal thoughts. Fearful of being stigmatized as an "unhappy mother” it was only after months of suffering in silence that Dorie realized this was not “normal”, she had undiagnosed postpartum depression. As she began to heal and hear from women with similar experiences, she came to learn that her scenario was not uncommon. Unrealistic cultural pressures for women to “bounce back” after pregnancy combined with the lack of a postpartum culture of care means all families are vulnerable.
Dorie Geissler holds a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois and currently teaches at Parkland College. She spends most of her free time with her two boys, Alex (13) and Jake (9), husband Karl, and their very outgoing (read: needy) dog and cat. As a family they are avid fitness/sport freaks and can be found regularly comparing step totals, sweating profusely and lifting heavy things. Dorie’s addictions include, coffee, clean kitchen counters, NPR podcasts, DIY, and power naps.