I’m unpacking my office and came across my box of client files. It took me back to my why. The reason and I am a doula. I have been in so many different births, so many different styles, so many different parents; that I stood with and held space for, to support their journey.
The beginning of a journey
started my journey as a doula at a very young age, before my births and before my babies. I was just home from college trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had just visited my 3rd sister in Georgia with my 2 week old niece, and was a bit shocked at the amount of care this little, tiny, sweet baby girl was. How my sister was totally a mom - without a shadow of a doubt, 100% mom. She nursed that baby and swaddled her, had a lactation consultant come to the house and tell her all the tricks to do for a great latch, and then she shared with me her birth story. I listened, but didn’t really understand the whole process. What stuck with me is how much she remembered the nurse that helped her so much, and how that person made her feel great and strong during her birth. I came home and went about my life… and then, my oldest sister found out she was pregnant. Pregnant with her first baby - I was enamored with her pregnancy. I watched her take care of herself - read, study and learn about all the things she wanted to do to have a great pregnancy and birth. I went about my life and was going to school and doing the things I loved like singing and running a PT office. I knew that I wanted to do something with moms and babies, and was thinking pediatrician or perhaps a children’s physical therapist. I was volunteering with special needs children and really searching. Summer rolled around and I was home working at an eye clinic as the admin/receptionist. I LOVE people, and visiting and learning about them and their lives was the fun part of that job. One patient came in and we were talking about my schooling and such, and I was telling her about my pregnant sister and she told me she was a retired Labor and Delivery nurse that worked for St. Anthony’s, and “did I know about Doulas?" I listened and was intrigued, but not really sure. My understanding of the process was not all there. What is a Doula? Weird I thought, and put it in my "big toe" as my mom would say to go and check it out later.
My sister went into labor. I went to her house after work, and she was cooking dinner in these cute overalls and would stop and sway and I was in awe. What was this?! She labored and labored, and handled it - then was ready to go to the hospital, and I tagged along. One of her friends showed up as her support person, and she talked her through her contractions and positions, and put her in the bath and told her how strong and beautiful and amazing she was. Her friend stayed for a while and then left and there was me. I was the only one with her, with no clue what to do in this super amazing and sensitive moment. Her husband decided at that time to go get something to eat…OMG! I was on!!!! SO... I did a repeat of what her friend had done and it went by in a whirl. The nurse was helpful, but through the whole labor assumed that we were not educated or that my sister had a clue, and treated us like we were uneducated. She asked if our parents spoke English, and if we had gone to high school. She was not professional or respectful of the space that my sister had created. The nurse was SHOCKED to find out that we were college educated Latina women, and that our parents had college degrees. Her respect for our family was upped a notch. I was annoyed and a bit shocked that we were treated differently, until she found out differently about us. It made me wonder if she was doing her best for my sister.
We continued to labor, and it was transition time - my sister was such a lioness and was rocking out this part of labor - then she started to push, and WE pushed (HA!). The nurse quickly encouraged her to lie down on the bed so she could assess the pushing situation. It was great, so she encouraged the pushing and was all of a sudden shocked that the baby was crowning and the doctor wasn’t there. She told my sister to stop pushing. Baby was crowning for what felt like forever and forever and forever some more, then in came the doctor. She was in a hurry, and gowned up to assess that we had a baby crowning with significant decelerations, and made the decision to give my sister an unnecessary episiotomy. My sister yelled "NO" and almost kicked her in the face and out came my nephew. I was in shock, not sure what to think, and completely awed by the sight of my sister drinking in her baby boy on her chest, and her husband and his huge smile. The tears rolling down my cheeks and her cheeks, and this unbelievable amount of joy and awe overwhelmed me. I knew at that moment that I wanted to do this again. I wanted to support women and I wanted to see babies and do more baby stuff. I just knew. I knew for days and weeks and months, a knowing so deep in my gut that this was something I HAD to do.
I began my search for doula training and found one through the Rocky Mountain Doula Educators. Carrol and Farrol were the Rockstar teachers I found to begin my Doula journey with. I was the clueless 20 year old that knew absolutely nothing - just the experience that I had with my sister, and the stories that my mother shared with us about her C-Sections.. all 4 of them (that is a whole other story to share.) I was ready. I took the class and tried every single thing on my sisters (that weren’t pregnant) and read every single book. I went on the hunt for clients. I remember those first 3 birth so vividly, and with each one I learned something more, and something new. With each birth I attend and share with a family, I am again standing in awe of the strength of women, the power they hold, the work their body does, and the adventure their mind takes them on. I feel humbled with every new baby that takes its first breath- that I get to see - and with every person that becomes a parent. The moment that baby comes out and the couple see’s their baby in person. The lights turn on as parents and it is priceless. I feel blessed. What a gift and an honor it is, to be able to have this amazing career, to hold such sacred space and to be trusted with such precious moments.