The Doula Seed
Whenever I am asked why I am a doula, I need to stop and think for a moment. My response every time is that as a doula I am filling the gap (along with others) that is missing in today’s transient and autonomous society. When I respond, I am thinking of the days when girls and young women learned the ways of pregnancy to all things postpartum at the feet of their grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, and other women in their community. What a beautiful and age old scene that is.
Then that scene brings me to my own journey in becoming a doula. Here is my “why” story.
Living without my own mother since I was 10 years old, I yearned for the mentoring and teaching that I am called to act upon in my life’s work. Even without my mother, I was blessed to grow up around some other women who modeled breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and natural birth for me.
I also think of the journey that brought me to being a doula for real.
I had an epiphany one day almost 25 years ago when a close friend and I were waiting for the bus to get home from work. She described her birth – left by her partner during pregnancy, her mother refused to come since she was unwed, and she was at an overtaxed county hospital where the staff was barely in the room to support her. She was utterly alone and scared. My heart broke for her and her daughter. No woman should ever be alone to fend for herself under those circumstances. EVER. In looking back, I can say at that moment my doula heart seed was planted though it would be years before the seed came to full bloom.
Fast forward a couple of years and I had a knack for mamas and babies. I could help a baby latch and mom grow confidence in breastfeeding. I knew how to calm a mama when she was tired and at her wit’s end. I understood the pregnant mama and could easily encourage. I was invited to attend a birth of a family member I was very close to. She delivered in a freestanding birth center. It was an amazing natural birth with very little requirement of her except to labor and birth. An atmosphere of encouragement, freedom, and calm. I will say it was one of the most comfortable places I have ever been in my skin supporting her. I didn’t understand the job I had done with her, but it was good. I think I was on a birth high for weeks. The doula seed was beginning to ferment.
I attended birth along the way for friends and other family, assisted in breastfeeding and talking through general pregnancy issues. Mind you I hadn’t had my own children, was educated and worked in fields that had nothing to do with birth. I loved the mamas and families that I knew. When I started having my own family, it seems the mojo went into high gear. I was asked questions all the time about many things pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding related, no matter where the place or situation. Even my husband began fielding calls when I wasn’t home from friends who needed baby help. The doula seed was slowly sprouting.
When my dear youngest boy weaned himself, I began wondering OKAY now what am I going to do while maintaining being a SAHM? My sister-friend “J” found the CAPPA website and told me I needed to take the trainings and then I could really support the families in my community as an extension of what I was already doing. Get the education she said. I went to the site, spoke to my husband at length and took the leap. Three trainings in 5 months. Then I began to to seek out clients, put together curriculum, and found a local doula group to join. The doula seed exploded into a blossom of great fragrance about me.
I ill not say the work is easy. Anything worth any value is not. From the prenatal meeting, to the birth while looking into a mother’s eyes encouraging her down the path so many have walked before, to the early postpartum time in assisting with breastfeeding, attachment and family health, I am honored and blessed doubly. Participating in the most intimate time possible, witnessing the transformation that so often occurs in a woman (and her huband/partner/family), and hearing that first sound of life when her baby “speaks” is beyond description. A miracle takes place each and every time.
The doula blossom has deep roots now. On occasion it needs some pruning, soil treatment, and large doses of sunshine as all beautiful plants need to maintain health and well-being. Still it is very good.