Every Doula has a story behind why she has chosen to be a labor companion. Our collective nature is fueled by helping women; women’s health and vitality are at the center of our hearts. We have a reverence for birth, pregnancy, and babies. We are DOULAS. Women who have given our lives to support other women.
My passion, like most passions, stemmed from my own birth experience. My birth experience ignited a fire deep inside to help others live something different. Here is my birth story, that started it all:)
It was 2005, the year I was pregnant with my first-born son Ty. I was an exuberant nineteen-year-old, who had not yet figured out who she was, yet had conceived a child. Like most teens, I was unaware of my body and was unattuned to how powerful, perfect, and intelligent my body was.
I chose to have my firstborn son in the hospital ( my second child was born at home, but that is another blog:). For my son, a hospital birth was a blessing; he arrived at 30 weeks premature. The Dr. diagnosed my son’s prematurity condition in connection to my stress levels. Being a full-time working mama without any reliable partner support, the diagnosis the Dr. had given matched the season perfectly.
On the day of my birth, a sunny day in November, I worked retail at a boutique store when my contractions started in at about four minutes apart. I had three days of prior Braxton hicks but did not think anything of them (hello, unaware, and not attuned to my own body). I remember not wanting to call the Dr. I had made up my mind that I was sure whatever I was experiencing was not labor and did not want to burden him on a Sunday where he was not taking non-emergency calls.
However…..within the hour, I found myself loading up in a car to be checked in at the hospital.
VULNERABLE, NAKED, FRIGID, LAID BARE, EXPOSED, PANIC, TENSION, CHOAS…. Labor from that point on was an emergency. I had to change hospitals and was taken by ambulance to a hospital with a NICU unit. I remember the feeling of being muted in the background of bodies in medical scrubs. The feeling of helplessness swept over me as the impulses in my body took over. Every decision in the hospital presented was overwhelming. My hospital room, with a shower curtain panel for a door, left little to no room for privacy. The sheet curtain rotated with strangers faces watching the most intimate parts of myself laid bare. I struggled to navigate the reality of which I was living. I was surrounded but felt utterly alone.
As I progressed to 10 cm at 10 pm, the nursing staff promptly ushered me into the emergency room. Gappy eyed students waited for my arrival to watch me as Dr. RANDOM delivered my baby. I don’t remember any verbal allowance to let people observe my birth experience; like many decisions that day, I was unaware and uninformed.
MY SWEET BABY WAS BORN. I remember getting to look at my son as he was wheeled away in a plastic heating device to be taken straight to the recovery unit for preemies. His full head of black hair, his tiny 3-pound body, his precious little face all tubed for oxygen for his underdeveloped lungs. I grappled with my first mothering moments, my son nowhere present.
In the three months of hospitalization to follow, I had many missed opportunities to bond with my newborn. Breastfeeding and a joyful postpartum slipped through the cracks of trying to hold down a full-time job and back to back hospital runs. The blur of motherhood around those first months and even years was insane. I, like so many women, needed support.
I believe with all do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time. I hope my story lays a nonjudgemental, compassionate foundation for those who have similar stories. I want ALL mothers to be strong, mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. Anna Verwaal said it well: “A woman, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth.” It matters, and we (doulas) want to help make it an experience that is the best it can possibly be. “
My own birth story has motivated me to come beside you in yours. I believe together we can create something beautiful and memorable,