Doula Katy #1

Doula Katy, pt 1

Hi y’all! My name is Katy Gladwin. This post is just a start, but I’m going to try to tell you who I am, and why I think the way I do.

Katy Gladwin sisters
Me and my sisters!

I grew up in Michigan from the age of 5 and have lived here my whole life (minus a year in Nashville, but that’s an entirely different post). I have 3 little sisters, all of whom are amazing, smart beautiful women who I love dearly. We are all close, and feel very lucky to have them in my life.

I am married to a smart, driven, project and outdoors loving engineer. It’s because of him and his support that I’ve been able to be a doula, continue my education, while also being a mostly stay-at-home/work-from-home mom. We built an awesome house in rural Ypsilanti, which just over a mile from the city center. Building a house from scratch is quite an undertaking, that I don’t recommend taking up lightly. I did not quite realize how much work and thought goes into designing, then planning, then building a home. It took a couple years in the planning phase, but once we got to building, it took shape fast and now, we live in a house that we designed ourselves, for ourselves, in the woods. Looking back, it’s pretty fantastic what we were able to accomplish.

Gladwin house in the woods

My partner and I have an almost 5 year old son who is, 98% of the time, pretty much the coolest kid ever. He is empathetic, sweet, super goofy, smarter than us both, and an introvert like me. He makes even the hardest days joyful.

I’ve been Doula Katy for 7 years!

Katy, ZOG and Ross Gladwin
My little family

Never once have a thought maybe this isn’t the right job for me. I love love love this work! When I was in college, studying and preparing myself for the MCATs, I was so looking forward to being able to help people! I was looking forward to working with people to heal themselves, to listening and learning. I was also dreading the years of hazing and indoctrination that goes along with med school. For many this is just part of the plan to become a doctor, for me, I was worried it would hurt my ability to be critical, to question the systems set in place, not to mention the staggering debt. When I learned that being a doula was even a thing, I was sold! A profession where I get to listen and learn, empower and advocate… I am in!

It was one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life. While it can be frustrating to see births go sideways in an individual basis, overall, I love this job with all my heart. I love the families I have had the honor of working with. I love the care providers I have gotten to know over the years. I love the nurses I get to work along side. While 90% of the births I have attended are in the hospital, I extra love that I have the opportunity to attend home-births as an assistant as well.  This helps me remember that birth works.

I learn something at every birth I go to. A new amazing phrase to use with laboring families, a magic trick to help a swollen cervix disappear, a new medical procedure to talk to mothers about, or a new way to advocate.  I take all of this and can share it with the families I work with.  Help them prepare and create a vision for a good birth.  I’m so grateful!

to be continued…

Embracing Doulahood While Waiting for Motherhood

U of M hospital doula
Me and my doula bag. 3:00 am at Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital
Often times when people learn I am a doula they assume that I have children of my own. There comes a point in interviews with potential clients where the question of my personal labor/pregnancy/baby  experience comes up. Until recently I have felt sheepish about admitting that I am not a mother yet (as if it is something to be admitted to). Maybe it’s because I am afraid of not meeting people’s expectations.  At the same time, I am not embarrassed that I’m still waiting to become a mother, nor do I think that it diminishes my skills as a doula. I don’t feel that becoming a mother would automatically make you a great doula (though lots of doulas are fantastic mothers), just as experiencing loss doesn’t automatically make you an effective grief counselor.
Top of the Park, doulas, Ann Arbor
Doula non-mom, doula-mom and sleepy doula-toddler enjoying an evening on the town.
There are many doulas who are mothers and who find doula work through motherhood. It makes sense. Sitting in my doula training, many of the women in the room had come to the training as a result of a wonderful birth experience with a great doula who inspired them. Sadly, others had found their way there through traumatic birth experiences and were motivated to never let another family go through the same. I had neither. I didn’t even know anyone who was pregnant at the time. I was there because I have always felt pulled toward work that allows me to walk with and support others as they navigate major life transitions. I thought this doula thing might be my way to do just that. It has been.
I’m very intentionally not a mother yet, but I love being a part other people’s journey toward motherhood. I mean the whole journey: the dreaming/visioning, the multitude of choices,  the drama of labor and birth, and the finagling that comes with adding another demanding person to your family. Right now not being a mother is allowing me to fully be a doula. I can drop everything and go to a birth without worrying about childcare. I have all my mothering energy and time to devote to my clients. I have skills now that I can use today to help ease the transition to motherhood for other women; a cool head, an open heart, a calm presence, and an ever deepening well of knowledge about the childbearing year. I can “hold the space” for mother and partner as they make decisions about how they want to go through labor and birth. I can offer alternate sources of information, coping techniques, and a nonjudgmental ear.
I really look forward to being a mother some day, but in the mean time I have the privilege of working with families as they bring another tiny human into the world.
Doula, date night, ann arbor
Me and my honey at the Moth Mainstage. Enjoying being “just two” for now.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Doula as Luxury Commodity?!

doula support
Women Supporting Women
There is a fallacy going around right now in the Doula community.  It is being said that Doulas are not needed, or deserved.  That Doulas are WANTED, and therefore are a luxury service.  I would beg to differ!  Women have been supporting women through childbirth for all time.  Sure, there wasn’t always a trained, non-medical, non-judgmental support person hired by families to provide, “physical, emotional and logistical support through the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum time”. There have been the wise-women, other mothers (who had also gone through natural, and well supported birth), sisters, sister-wives, midwives, the shaman, and so on and so on.  The wisdom of childbirth and mothering has been passed down through generations, and only relatively recently has birth become the often frightening, and disempowering, medical process it is today.  Women do DESERVE to be supported by their community of mothers and sisters and wise-women.  They do DESERVE to be informed, supported, confident, cared for, trusted, and empowered.  They may not want a Doula, they may want a Doula who is unavailable, they may want a Doula, who for some reason or another is too expensive for their budget.  We don’t always get what we want, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the support a Doula would provide.
doula, labor, support
Katy at Work
As Doulas we are trying to make sense of this contemporary version of women in community. How do we provide this essential service, this service that we feel is so missing from modern maternity care, and not lose ourselves in the process?  How do we support our families, as they support us, as we do this work?
I think there can be a better answer than only providing the service as a luxury (and charging as such).  I have to admit that I’m not sure what it is exactly.  The fact that the field is growing so rapidly at this point in time means that there are more and more women who know that this is important, who believe they can make a difference in their communities.  I know we can be more creative though.  I know that the problem doesn’t lie in women not deserving to be supported, and asking for support anyway.
Doulas, support, everyone deserves a doula
source unknown
So what can we do to create an environment where every woman gets the support and care she deserves, as well as allowing Doulas to make a living wage and support their families?  I really think there is a better solution to this than just saying “We provide a luxury service”.  Perhaps it lies in the fact that ALL women deserve to feel non-judgmentally supported.  Whether they believe that or not is a different story.  How do we teach women that they do deserve to be unconditionally supported?  How do we teach women to lift each other up, and give that unconditional support?  I think once we have an environment that is healthier and more supportive to pregnant and birthing women, the business side of this work will become a little clearer.  I hope so, and I guess I’m going to have to remain optimistic as I continue to do this work I love, and provide an essential service to the deserving women of my community.  In a way that feeds my heart, and soul, and family.

When the (doula) fruit is ripe…

Ann Arbor  flowers doula wedding
Beautiful farmer’s market flowers arranged by Katy!
It’s finally happening. My transition to being a doula has been a vacillating one, but it is time for me to make it a bigger part of my life. Starting in September I will be cutting hours at my nonprofit desk job in Detroit so I am able to spend more time doing this doula work that I love.
The backstory – When I first completed my training in 2012, I knew that I wanted to support women and their partners through labor and birth, but was having trouble figuring out the particulars. I already had a full time job, was living in an intentional community, and was freshly out of school. How would I balance my commitments to job, housemates, boyfriend, and sanity while also committing to 4 weeks of on-call time and prenatal meetings with birth clients? Longish story short, I decided to press the pause button on my doula dream; until a friend’s pregnancy pressed play again.
I had the honor of going to my first birth as a doula in June 2014, and it rocked my world more than I could have imagined. It was another cosmic nudge to make this doula thing work… but first I had to buy a house…plan my wedding to the love of my life…
New  Ypsilanti doula wedding photo
Bridesladies + Katy before the wedding.
Fast forward a year – we have a home, we got married, I’ve got an official doula mentor, I will have attended 7 more births by the end of August, and the nudging from the universe has gotten stronger and more persistent.
Katy and I started working together in January as mentor/mentee and already I feel like a smarter, savvier, more confident doula. However, I haven’t been able to give the time or energy to Sacred Roots that it deserves. Through conversations with Katy, Dave, and other trusted folk it became clear something had to give. I realized working full time and trying to doula full time would cause my work and relationships to suffer.  Around this time a part time position with my current employer became available, and I took the leap. I am over-the-moon thrilled to have more time to support families through their transition from pregnancy to postpartum.
A friend recently shared a bit of wisdom with me about fruit dropping when it is ripe, and I feel like the time for my doula dream is ripe and it’s about to drop!

Getting back in the game!

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any sort of updating here, and a lot has changed in my life.IMG_2268
I was living my dream of doula-ing full-time taking 3-4 clients per month, and loving life.  When I thought things couldn’t get much better, my husband and I found out we were going to be welcoming a new little soul into the world in August 2013.  Winter, Spring, and Summer were full of birth energy, both from my clients ( I attended 21 births during the first 2 trimesters!) and my own.
All the families I got to work with were wonderful, and the babies are, of course, amazing.  What a fun time.  I stopped attending births as I entered into my third trimester.  This was due to my growing belly making physical support harder, but also to start to move my birthing energy and knowledge inward.  To have some time to reflect on my own pregnancy and focus on my own little one.
After Zachary was born, I tried to jump right in again into doula work.  Leaving my baby proved too anxiety producing, so after a few difficult months of back and forth, I decided to step back and take some real time off with my new family.  While I did support a few repeat families, (which is so amazing!!) my summer was relaxing and spent doing a lot of self reflecting and working on myself.

doula, SAHM, mother
he’s amazing!
SAHM, doula, family, play
my family
What did I learn?  I learned that I absolutely love being a mother!  I learned that being a stay at home mom is very challenging, lonely at times, and the most rewarding thing I have ever done.  I also learned that I LOVE doula work and birth work way too much to stay away for long.  Supporting families as they welcome a new member into their arms is something that will continue to be my calling for the rest of my life.  Having the honor of being present for these transformative moments is something I am eternally grateful for.  I hope I continue to learn and grow as families trust me to hold their space.
Thank you to all of the families who have allowed me to support them over these past 3+ years.  I will forever hold each of your families in my heart!  Love, Katy