I don’t know when I first felt the inkling to become a doula.
It could have been when I discovered my parents’ copy of A Child Is Born. Amazed, slightly embarrassed, and intrigued at the full-spread image of a baby’s head emerging from between his mother’s legs.
It could have been when I watched my childhood idol, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, give birth beneath a tree in the middle of the Colorado frontier.
Or it could have been when my midwife set my 9 pound, 21 inch daughter on my chest, heaving the weight of motherhood onto me.
Maybe I was wired to become a doula all along.
During my first pregnancy, I became obsessed with learning all I could about birth. Not only was I genuinely interested in the process, I felt a distinct responsibility to be ready. It seemed right to me that I should prepare for this (what I heard would be) life-altering experience. And it was. In the best of ways.
Once I joined the ‘mommy club’ and started swapping battle stories, I discovered that not all women had the same, empowering, positive impressions of birth that I did. Stories of fellow mamas being treated more like children than women by their care providers. Scary, unexplained complications. Interventions that seemed to do more harm than good. Snap-decisions made in the midst of fear or confusion. Little-to-no breastfeeding support or information. Births that ended up more traumatic than pleasant.
Even as I was just getting my bearings as a new mom, friends started to come out of the woodwork asking me all kinds of pregnancy and childbirth questions. “I know you had a good, natural birth experience,” their messages would start, “I just found out I’m pregnant and have no idea what to do. Can you help me?” I answered the questions that I could, and researched the others. Gaining knowledge even as I was spreading knowledge. Frequently I would fall asleep telling Ben about a new mom I had just been chatting with and the hurdles she was overcoming. I felt strongly that I needed to do more, but still felt a bit lost. After all, I was new to this motherhood rodeo, too.
Well into my daughter’s first year, that same story-swapping, question-asking, information-seeking pattern continued. I fell in love with this beautiful cycle of new moms encouraging newer moms.
A week or so after Ben graduated seminary, he and I had one of those lovely, dreamy, goal-setting conversations. We were thrilled that Ben had reached this milestone, and to have some of our family’s time and financial resources freed up. It was in was in this conversation we thought Ben should pursue a podcast idea he’d been tossing around.
“What about you?” he asked, “Why don’t you become a doula?”
I had mentioned the idea to him before, but it was always in the future. Maybe when we were done having babies. When the kids were in school. When…
“Why not now?” he prodded. “We can make it happen. You’re so passionate about this. I think you’re going to be a very busy doula one day.” Then he gave me one of his killer I-believe-in-you smiles. And I melted.
I decided to pursue training and certification with DONA International, a well-respected certifying organization. Back in June I went to Louisville for the weekend to attend training and had a wonderful time soaking up knowledge from a renown doula, birth educator, and expert. I met 13 other beautifully diverse women who share the same understanding and strong conviction that birth matters.
And now? I’m pursuing this profession, this calling, that I never knew existed three years ago. I’m planning to start taking clients next Spring, after my own baby is safely born and welcomed into the world. I also have plans to become certified as a childbirth educator. I feel there’s a massive gap in people’s understanding of how birth works. And, especially, I think there aren’t enough Christians talking about birth as God’s beautiful design.
It may seem like a hectic time in life to pursue a demanding, on-call job, but the beauty of doula work is women will always be having babies. Our plan is to start gradually, taking clients and teaching classes as our family is able. Letting the work grow as we do. As I do.
My deep gratitude is owed to my loving husband, Ben, for supporting me in doula work, even though the word ‘cervix’ makes him squeamish. And a great thanks is owed to my little girls, for letting their mommy help other mommies.
I’ll post occasional updates on the blog about my doula journey and childbirth, always with an intention to spread information, decrease fear, and increase wonder.