laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

The Doula Houla


I know, I know, you’ve been waiting with baited breath. Just waiting for me to write another post. Pour out everything about how my weekend went. Surprisingly, I don’t feel like it. I know, I know…it’s weird. I think that it all just feel really personal, and maybe I’m not ready to share that just yet. Sound strange coming from someone who blogs? Yeah, felt a little strange saying it.

Yesterday, I spent a full hour staring at the screen. Never getting more than the above paragraph out. I still feel like I’m at a loss for words. Helping someone birth, and apparently, even the preparation for doing so, is much like giving birth yourself. It’s emotional, it’s physical, it’s beautiful. And it’s very personal.

My weekend was so incredibly amazing. I was truly surprised at the diversity in women. And I don’t mean just racially or culturally even. There were all ages. While I was not the oldest, I was definitely not the youngest. Actually, I was probably in the top half of the age bracket. Another thing that surprised me was that half of the class were not mothers. They just loved pregnancy/pregnant women, babies, and birthing. And wanted to learn more about it.

Let’s face it. For those of us who are mamas, our birthing stories are highly personal. So much so, that they affect how we feel about ourselves. A mama who had a birth that left her feeling like Wonder Woman? Well, studies have shown that it can turn a previously low-self-esteemed woman into someone with much more confidence in herself. A woman with good self esteem and then has a birth that made her feel out of control and like it happened to her (rather than something she chose), well, studies have also shown that that will knock her self-esteem down a few pegs.

I think that I am also more aware of my role, as a doula, in doing all that I can to make sure that it’s a birth they can look back on in pride. Always keeping the How will she remember this? in the forefront of my mind as I offer suggestions and support. Obviously, I can’t birth for them. And births can kind of have a mind of their own… I’ve certainly had a birth that did not go the way I’d planned in my mind. It’s all about support.

I have received some awesome support this last week. Support of my friends encouraging me (and saying they’ll use me for their next babies!), my husband who listened to me unload and process through all the information and feelings at the end of each late night. Support of my family who kept my babies for a weekend. (The kids had a blast. I’m still feeling the repercussions of being separated for so long. I feel like it was too long- for me!) I am thankful for the wonderful women I trained with (and the oh so amazing wonder woman who led our training). They were a support, a help, a community. Some women had some great stories about birthing their babes, and others shed tears as they told theirs. As women, I think when our births don’t go according to plan, we tend to feel like failures. I mean it’s birth, it’s kind of what we do. What our bodies just know how to do. There is a lot of deep-seated emotions that go along with the thought I failed at something my body is supposed to be able to do instinctively, on its own. 

If you can’t tell already, I’m still processing some of my own feelings about birth. I’m learning to let it go. To accept it was it was. And to focus on some positives. Like the fact that when I wasn’t scared out of my gourd in previous births -especially my first- I felt like a rock star. I labored quietly in the night, letting my hubbyman get some sleep. I was relaxed enough to sleep in between contractions during the day, so much that the day seemed to go by quickly. I labored at home. I moved around. My water broke just as we were going through the gates to get on base (military). An hour and a half later… I was a mother. And he was perfect. And I felt like super woman. Like I could do anything. I birthed a baby, ok, that’s somethin‘.

The next two births left me with beautiful, perfect, healthy babies… and a little bit disillusionment of the medical world. I felt like this long, intensive, informative weekend helped in that aspect. Not that I now have unshakable faith in the medical community, but it was healing to hear of midwives, Drs, and nurses who have done things to protect the process I so fiercely believe in.

There is a secret in our culture and it is not that birth is painful but that women are strong.

-Laura Stavoe Harm

That is not to imply that if your labor didn’t go as planned, or it wasn’t what you wanted, that you are not strong enough. (Feel like that’s not a helpful quote for women? I can see why- read this.  The truth is that the quote actually is from an essay talking about how we need to talk more about our births. You can read about it here.)

After my weekend, I feel like that quote resonates. Even though I did not feel strong during the birthing of my last baby, looking back, faced with insurmountable odds and lack of support (outside of my  hubby and doula)… I birthed my baby. And that’s what really counts.

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I Choose


There’s my sign. There’s your sign. As I begin another journey. I’m telling you, you can begin yours too. No matter what you’re doing, where you are, or who you are… there’s your sign. We’ve all been waiting for something, right?

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be, or do, in this life. It’s good to know that no matter what point I’m at, it’s never too late to choose another route.

And so today I am leaping in, with both feet. A new horizon. A new career. A new start.

Today I am thankful for the people in my life who encourage, support, uplift, and call me to tell me to take a deep, cleansing breath. I am thankful that with them, and often because of them, I am strong. I am determined. I am starting anew. It may not have be the life I pictured as a little girl. But it is definitely the life I want as an adult. It’s been a journey to this point, but as of today, I am choosing my life. I am (continuing) to live with intention. And I’m being intentional about it.

*Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts! Cross your fingers, this is a big weekend for me! Full of lessons, note-writing, training, and probably not a lot of sleep! Plus Littlest will be spending two nights IN A ROW away. (For the first time.) I already miss him. Hubbyman has promised to tell the grandparents that they can drop Littlest off with his daddy at any point over the weekend. I know they won’t, but his words were comforting to my mama heart. May you all have a weekend filled with new adventures, incredible food, and unending wine bottles!

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Here I Come!


Ok, ya’ll, we have a problem. I am in a bit of a panic over here. Have I mentioned that they had an opening for a Doula Workshop and I immediately got signed up? I’ve ordered all necessary books, done all necessary registration, and screeched with joy when hubbyman agreed I should do it!

For those of you wondering what a doula is, here is what wikipedia had to say about it:

a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during or after childbirth, as well as her partner and/or family by providing information, physical assistance and emotional support.[1] The provision of continuous support during labour by doulas (as well as nurses, family or friends) is associated with improved maternal and fetal health and a variety of other benefits.[1][4]

In contrast to the goal of medical professionals (a safe childbirth), the goal of a doula is to ensure the mother feels safe and confident before, during and after delivery.[6] Doulas can be controversial within medical settings due to pressure on mothers to avoid medical interventions and pursue natural childbirth without an epidural or medically necessary caesarean sections.[7]

I have a couple comments in response to that… I’m glad they added that there’s improved maternal and fetal heath, along with other benefits. But I wish they wouldn’t have said “associated with.” Implying that it may or may not be true. It is true. There, I said it. Also, as far as #7 goes. It made me want to pull my hair out. No, Drs don’t always appreciate a doula, because if they are telling their patient something, they don’t really want anyone else to tell them otherwise.  But it is COMPLETELY (I can’t stress this enough) asinine to say that a doula would ever (and I mean ever) pressure a mother to avoid a medically necessary c-section!!! Would we want to exhaust all other options if there were a way around it? Obviously, because isn’t that better than a major surgery that has it’s own sets of risks and worries? (Yes, the correct answer is yes.) And doulas are not there to pressure the mother into anything. Usually a doula is there to provide the mother enough support that she has the birth that she wants, (sometimes) despite the hospital staff’s pressures. That was my experience.

I think I knew as soon as I became a mother that I wanted to do something more closely related to mothers and babies than a general early childhood development and education could give me. But I was a little caught up in my own world of mothering and babies to really think about my version of that with others. We greatly appreciated our doula with our firstborn (yes, my doula was my mother.) Hubbyman told anyone and everyone who would listen that they had to get a doula because it was that important, and made that much of a difference for him. I cannot stress enough the importance of having another person there to advocate for you and support you and your decisions.

After Littlest’s birth, I knew I needed to be a doula. I need to make sure that his birth story (or it’s fallout) does not happen to other women.

So here I am, just over 24 hours from my training weekend. And suddenly, I’m so nervous I could pee. Or cry. Despite how much I share on here, in real life… well let’s say I’m not as forthcoming. I’ve been viewed as stuck up, sometimes even snotty… at least in my teens. Not because that’s how I really am, but I remember this? I’m more introvert than extrovert. The class will be with about 20 other women. So while it’s a little more than a handful, it’s still small enough that it’ll be fairly intimate. I mean it’s three days of 1-9pm sessions. It means I’m probably going to have to talk, to someone. Maybe even in front of everyone. Yikes. Deep breaths. There’s a reason my “platform” is behind a computer screen and not in front of a live audience, folks. I’ve been flipping through all my doula, pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding books… because what if someone says something and I don’t know what they’re talking about? What if they look at me like the lady in the grocery store did? Ok, more deep breaths. I am a strong, intelligent woman and mother of three naturally born babies… this is something I want to do and can do.

Yesterday, I was clever

that’s why I wanted to change the world.

Today, I am wise

that is why I am changing myself.

-Sri Chinmoy

{inspired by the lovely Christine at Somethingville}

Today, I am letting myself feel my nerves. Today I am letting myself feel a little panicked. Today I am letting myself feel a little worried and scared. Tomorrow, I will grab myself by my bootstraps, get myself together, and be brave. I will look the other brave, likeminded women in the eye and talk to them openly. I will open my heart and mind to all the information they are willing to offer. Especially the instructor. I will see the change in myself.

And then, in a few short weeks, I will hold my sister (in-law)’s hand as I do all I can as her doula to make her birthing my nephew as uncomplicated, and wonderful as they deserve it to be. The thought of that gives me energy and encouragement.

Thank you for withstanding my little freak out session.  

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