Katy was my doula, but she wasn’t at my birth (thanks to a certain very behind-schedule baby of mine). This isn’t the typical opener for a doula testimonial, but it feels particularly relevant in the new normal to which we are adjusting.
Katy began working with me early in pregnancy, and immediately became our ally. From her, my husband and I gained critical knowledge about what we might encounter in labor (much of it missing from birthing books), the conviction that it is our right to advocate for ourselves, and empathy as I navigated an emotionally difficult pregnancy.
I experienced a number of complications during labor but, thanks to all that Katy taught us, we never felt like we were swimming in jargon that was beyond comprehension. There’s less space for fear when we understand the language.
Katy’s guidance amplified our willingness to advocate for my health and my baby’s health during labor and postpartum. Each time we sought out additional information or asked for space to process, it was Katy’s voice in our heads reminding us to do so. Even now, I continue to advocate for myself when the response offered doesn’t lend credence to what I’m experiencing in my body. This is to Katy’s credit.
Katy viewed herself not as a labor and birth doula, but a confidant throughout pregnancy. Her empathy was unparalleled. She welcomed texts when prenatal appointments brought updates—mundane or otherwise—and she slogged through the final weeks of pregnancy alongside me. More than once, my husband reached out independently to ask for her support. Shortly after birth, I lamented not taking more photos during pregnancy; Katy quickly reminded me that this decision was for my mental health, and shouldn’t be doubted. Even now, nearly a year later, I return to this moment when I doubt myself and my past decisions.
Katy’s presence in my pregnancy was invaluable and, though she wasn’t at birth, everything she taught us was put to use. Working with a doula will likely look different for quite some time. But I know with conviction that there’s value in hiring Katy even if, from the beginning, there’s a chance she won’t be present at birth. Did I want her at my birth? Desperately. But much about this life is out of our control, and I find solace in the knowledge that, even as birth didn’t go as planned, I had a doula who gave our family the knowledge, advocacy, and empathy we needed as we grew our family.