Birth Doula Blog
My Doula Journey
How I Turned My Fascination Into a Paying Passion
Fourteen years ago, I was in my second trimester with my first child. I had the usual mix of excitement and worry that most new moms felt, but I decided to silence those fears by educating myself...and I wasn't going to do it alone. With my husband by my side, we decided to take a Bradley Method of Childbirth course which consisted of weekly 3-hour classes with other pregnant couples. What unexpectedly happened was that I developed a fascination for childbirth. Labor was not what I expected. My birth plan was just silly wishing and I was left feeling a bit regretful about how things played out. But in the newness of being a mom and having a perfectly healthy baby girl I had no time to dwell or revel in what had happened. My sister had made the five hour drive to be at the hospital with us. She brought peace and love with her and I vividly remember her picking up my hair as if she could read my mind.
One year later, I was living with that same sister and her husband who were expecting their first child. They had also taken the Bradley Method and understood the importance of having support. I was happy to fill that role. She began to labor late in the evening and, after packing last minute items into the hospital bag, we transitioned to the hospital. I was in disbelief that I was about to witness a child be born. I did what I could to keep her comfortable. I had no training, no experience, but I loved her so much and knew that love would show. During the hours I was there, I felt no hunger, thirst, or exhaustion. I stayed the whole night. I came home the following morning after the birth, in somewhat of a shock, and went back to being the mom of a toddler. I looked at my sweet girl's face and realized that I had also gone through such a life changing experience. I remembered that I had once roared with power like my sister.
Three years after my daughter's birth, I was at the gym, heavily pregnant with my son, doing my best to work out with a giant belly in the way when a kind-faced woman approached me and told me how beautiful I was. We got to talking and she told me she would love to be a doula but had no experience. And as crazy as it sounds, I came straight home and told my husband we'd now have a doula! It was unexpected and I didn't know much about doulas but I was happy to give her some experience. We met a few times before birth and soon enough the big day arrived. She came to our home in the middle of the night and then met us at the hospital. It was so reassuring to have someone else looking out for me during a time that I felt so helpless. I was very grateful to have crossed paths with her.
A few years later, that same sister was pregnant with her third child but sadly, there was no heartbeat detected during her last trimester. We knew baby Callie had trisomy 18 and would likely never live. It was devastating and to this day I don't know how my sister and her husband found the strength to overcome such a blow. She called to tell me she was being induced. By some crazy luck, the stars had aligned perfectly and we were already on our way to see her while we made our way on a cross-country move. I met her at the hospital and did my best to keep her calm during contractions. I reminded her of her strength and how she would get to see her sweet angel. I kept her hydrated, played music for her, and reminded her to use the bathroom often. It was during one of these reminders that she began to feel a burning sensation as she made her way out of bed. I took a look and her baby was being born! I placed my hands between her legs so she wouldn't fall out and then her husband took over while I called for a nurse. The emotions that followed are too intense to discuss in this blog post, but nearly 8 years later it's all still seared into my heart.
That's when I knew it...a woman needs so much love and care during labor. I was a mother of two young children living in a new place with a husband who had an unpredictable work schedule. I slowly collected a few birth books and flipped through the pages. "Yeah, this is pretty cool stuff," I'd think, but there was no way I could do anything about it given my current situation. For years, I would listen to other women's birth stories and eagerly waited for my turn to speak about MY experiences. If I'm being honest, I was barely listening, but I began to notice a shift. No longer were these conversations a chance to talk about myself. I began to get angry at the abuses that were happening. I began to think about how negative outcomes could have been avoided. I began to feel sadness that they were alone or misinformed. I knew I could make a difference in the birth world...I just had to be patient and wait for my time to come.
I waited until my kids were 12 and 9 years old to take that first step and I was nervous as heck. I researched certifying bodies and ultimately chose Birth Arts International. I loved how approachable the program felt and the affordable price tag didn't hurt. I announced it to my family and friends and received an outpour of support and encouragement. They could all see what I had kept buried for years. Even when I was at the end of my course, I had doubts. Would I be any good? Would I still love this? Could I really make a difference? I had no answers for those questions but I knew that the only way I'd find out was by trying. I had decided that this would no longer be a curious fascination. This would now be a reality and it was worth pursuing.
While, it's only been a year since I made that announcement, I have attended a few births and I'm still in awe. Every birth is proof of how strong women are and how perfect mother nature made us. I still have days where I compare myself to other doulas and question my newbie skills. I still struggle to make myself seen in a city that's full of doulas. I still wonder when I'll get my next client. The in-between is hard but when I'm holding a scared mama's hand and helping her see her strength, I know I'm where I belong.
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