Motherhood during the pandemic focus of Women in Conversation event

Among the speakers were two midwives and a therapist who is also the vice mayor of Santa Rosa.|

A group of Sonoma County women, whose careers range from midwifery to a dual family and marriage therapist and politician, dove into the topic of motherhood during the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, the first event in a three-part series exploring new beginnings.

The talk, convened virtually by The Press Democrat and hosted by Sonoma Magazine’s executive director, Abigail Peterson, debuted this year’s Women in Conversation series, held virtually for the second year in a row because of the pandemic.

Speakers included Natalie Rogers, a licensed family and marriage therapist who runs her own practice and who last year became the first Black woman to sit on the Santa Rosa City Council. She was later selected to serve as vice mayor.

The pandemic forced Rogers to juggle her patients and her new role on the city council from the confines of her home, where she simultaneously cares for three children doing distanced learning.

Her family has leaned on each other to tackle the challenges brought on by the change, Rogers said.

“Everyone has really banded together in my household and we all work as a team,” Rogers said. “Everyone knows they have a position on the team to play and we just try to play our position the best we can and roll with it.”

KathRyn Barry and Lisa Todd, licensed midwives who work as a team, have seen an uptick in women who are choosing at-home births in recent years, especially during the pandemic, when more mothers say they prefer to stay out of hospital settings.

With the increased interest in midwifery this past year came a number of hurdles the pair had to confront along the way, ranging from securing personal protective equipment, managing in-person appointments with expecting mothers, to helping foster a strong sense of support at a time when family and friends aren’t able to be physically close.

Other aspects of the job, such as the immense sense of privilege she feels in helping mothers bring life into the world, stayed the same, Barry said.

“Seeing new life come in and seeing families continue to decide to have another baby, it’s uplifting,” Barry said. “The emotional experience, the spiritual experience, it’s the highest high you’re ever going to have, whether you’re the one having the baby or you’re the one attending the birth.”

Anita Maldonado, the CEO of Social Advocates for Youth, the Santa Rosa-based nonprofit that serves vulnerable youth and their families, said she’s learned to build her relationship with her grandson through video conversations that bookend her day.

When she moved to Sonoma County from Ohio four years ago, she had expected to fly back several times to revisit family, though the pandemic squashed her plans, Maldonado said.

Her new pandemic ritual, the talks with her grandson, brings her joy that lasts throughout her day, Maldonado said.

“It’s our special time together,” Maldonado said. “I want him to know who I am. I want to be there for him as he grows up, as he learns all the new things that babies do.”

The second Women in Conversation event is scheduled for April 22 and will focus on the joy pets have brought into our lives during the pandemic.

The final talk in the series will premiere May 20. Speakers will dive into the hobbies and activities that have created calm in their lives over the past year.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or On Twitter @nashellytweets.

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