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.
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.
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…
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!
I am a Doula! I have been working very hard to learn about birth, labor support,
postpartum and prenatal support. I have been educating myself about marketing locally. I have been working really hard to get my name out there and make this dream of mine work. AND IT IS WORKING! I just love this job! It is amazingly rewarding and inspirational.
Watching new moms hold their babies for the first time, looking into their eyes, discovering what sex their child is, is the most amazing thing to be a part of. This is my job. I am a doula!