My Journey Into Doula Work
My journey into birth doula work began the year that my husband and I became pregnant. That year also happened to be one of the most tumultuous years of our lives. At the beginning of 2014 my husband accepted a job in Portland, Oregon. It was only a 6 month contract position, but we’d always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest. We jumped at this opportunity, thinking once we were there we could just continue finding work. He accepted the job in January and we were expected to be there by mid-February.
One night, just after he accepted the job and we were making hasty plans to move, we were up late dreaming about our future together. He turned to me very seriously and said he felt in his gut that it was time to start trying to conceive a baby. I can remember starting to cry. Rationally it didn’t make any sense, but I felt the same way. I, too, knew in my heart and soul that it was meant to be. My mind flipped through the logical reasons we shouldn’t have a baby. We were about to make a big move to a new place where we didn’t have many friends or any family; we weren’t as financially stable as we would’ve liked to be; I didn’t know much about babies much less birthing them. This reasoning in my head couldn’t outweigh the intuitive initiative that now dwelled within my heart. Joel (my husband) even guessed that we were going to have a boy before we ever started trying to conceive.
It took us over 3 months to get pregnant. We totally assumed that the second we stopped trying to prevent it we would instantly become pregnant. I was honestly very let down every month we tried and I still ended up menstruating. I ended up buying the book “Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods” by Nina Planck. This was just the beginning of my baby-centered investigations. From that moment on, I researched fervently about anything and everything related to birth and babies. My overactive mind dreamt up so many questions, and I wasn’t going to feel qualified to be a mother without finding the best answers. I wanted evidence-based, conscious-minded answers. I read so many sources, comparing information, scrutinizing over biases and flaws, trying to sift through it all me find the answers that worked for me.
While I was attempting to research my way into motherhood, Joel’s job ended and it became glaringly apparent that he would not be able to find employment elsewhere. The job market in Portland was not as abundant as we were used to in Austin. After living on beans and canned tuna for a few weeks, we decided we needed to return to our home state before we didn’t have the money to get back. We sold most of our belongings- anything that didn’t fit in the back of our 1991 Mazda pickup truck- and drove over 2,000 miles back to Austin, TX.
It was a somewhat treacherous journey considering our truck was 23 years old, weighed down with an extremely heavy load for its size, and we were winding through hills and mountains. Every time we climbed upward we worried the truck would overheat and we’d be stranded. Somehow we made it. Once we arrived home we had friends and family who took us in. Through a friend, I became connected with an incredible home birth midwife. I had a midwife but no house! Luckily, we moved in to a rental home just a few weeks before my due date.
To add to all the stress, I went two weeks and three days over my due date. The dates weren’t wrong- I was diligently charting when we conceived and my LMP date matched the ultrasound date exactly. I think all the stress during my pregnancy caused my body to tell my son to stay inside where it was safe. When we finally settled into our house and I was able to relax, I went into labor and 37 hours later our son was born.
My labor was challenging. It was grueling. I thought I wouldn’t make it through. It peeled through every layer of my being and exposed my innermost self. It exposed my weaknesses and my fears. Then, just when I felt defeated, something incredible happened.
I let go of my desire for control, and prayed to the cosmos. My prayers were answered, because when I finally let go my body was able to work for me. I began to push and I felt so strong and so powerful. My baby boy was born an hour later but it felt like a mere 5 minutes. The euphoria I felt after he arrived was the most phenomenal feeling I had ever experienced. I fell so deeply in love with everyone who went through this journey with me. My husband and my baby, but also my Midwife and her apprentice. In my mind, we became eternally bonded that day.
Once I came out of my blissful early postpartum fog, I realized that I wanted to be there for other women as my birth workers had been there for me.