The majority of the stories I have heard about why women have chosen to become a doula, or to get into birth work at all, is because they didn’t get the birth they wanted. My doula will tell you that she was uneducated when she gave birth to her first child. The doula that started it all for didn’t get the birth she wanted because her care provider needed to make it home in time. Several of the women who took the doula training class with me didn’t get the birth they wanted. All of those women are choosing birth work so they can empower and educate women so the same things don’t happen to them. So, when I think about my story and what brought me into the world of birth work I start to feel like somewhat of a poser.
The first time I heard the word ‘doula’ was 2.5 years ago when my sister-in-law was giving birth to her second child. I had no idea what role she was going to play in my sisters birth story but I knew that I was going to be there so I would be learning. I loved watching her doula work and help my sister-in-law be as comfortable as she could. She walked for miles and miles…and miles with her. She put her in different positions. She was there to talk if need be. She was there to comfort if need be. And when, at midnight, after all attempts had been made to give my sister-in-law the birth center birth she desired, and hospital transfer was deemed necessary she was there for that too. It was really an amazing thing to watch and I knew right then that I would hire her as my doula the minute I became pregnant.
Fast forward a year and a half. I found out I was pregnant in July of 2015. Unfortunately, my sister-in-law’s doula was moving out-of-state so I wasn’t going to be able to have her as my doula. However, I did find my doula through the same agency and she was exactly what I needed in a doula. Right from the start she was so supportive and educated me and walked by me when I changed care providers twice and when I changed my desires from a birth center birth to a home water birth. She knew so many things about birth that I wanted to know and is still such a huge inspiration to me!
I say that I feel like a poser because I got the exact birth I wanted. I started pre-labor on April 3rd at 1.30 in the morning. I labored for about 8 hours before informing anybody on my birth team. I went to the house my husband and I had just bought, where I would be delivering, around noon. My sister-in-law and cousin made their way to me. My midwife came and checked me, gave me some exercises to do and then left for a while. She came back around 6 and my doula joined us around 6.30 (with a QT pretzel and coke, I might add.) The environment was exactly what I wanted. Quiet music was playing, jokes were being told, everything was calm. I was dilated enough to get into the birth pool at 10 p.m. The water felt amazing and I was able to relax for a bit. I started pushing around 11.30 and my beautiful daughter made her appearance at 12.49 a.m. on April 4th. There are, of course, things I would change if I could. I wouldn’t have done the herbal induction, I would have read The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin (you should read it!), I would have had a few different birth affirmations. But, it’s because I had this perfect birth that has pushed me to get into birth work. I want every woman to get the exact birth they want, just like I did. If, for you, that means a home water birth, or a birth center hands and knees birth, or a hospital birth with an epidural or a cesarean than I will be there for you.Encouraging you and supporting you. Because, if my birth story taught me anything it’s that every single birth is beautiful, and every birth choice a mother makes should be respected by everyone. The woman’s partner, the doula (if you have one), the nursing staff at the hospital, and lastly, the person delivering your baby.