After I had my first child I didn't want anymore. The whole experience was unfortunate. I didn't enjoy my pregnancy, I was horribly constipated the whole first trimester and I didn't have the most supportive medical providers. One of the OBs had a sign in his office that read, "Home Delivery is for Pizza". I didn't know, my insurance covered them. They induced me and I wasn't even a week late. I was admitted to the hospital at 10 am, they told me we would have a baby in my arms by that night. That night came and went, and so did another. I was convinced my body didn't work. Why didn't I go into labor on my due date, why did they have to try and force this baby out of me, why was the induction not working? Finally, my water broke by itself as my midwife was unwrapping the amnio-hook, something in my body did something they wanted. After several hours of pushing she was born, I think it was wonderful, I look happy in the pictures but I don't really remember it myself. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe I was just tired but that set the tone for the next year. A few years later I would find out I had postpartum depression. This was how I became a mother.
When my daughter was three I got pregnant again. I didn't forget my first pregnancy and birth but was set to change things for this pregnancy and birth. My first change was the midwife and medical practice. My next change was listening to all the horror stories people would tell me. I would stand there politely as they spewed their trauma but I didn't listen. Some other changes were that I read more good books about pregnancy. I read more Ina May Gaskin, and others who talked about how childbirth was natural and that my body could totally do this. I was a different person this pregnancy, I wasn't scared of labor and birth. I was still scared of postpartum depression but talked with my midwife about what we could do if it reared its ugly head. We had a plan in place and that took some of the fear away. My water broke before contractions started, I waited for my husband and my neighbor to come home from work. Nick and I went off to the hospital and my neighbor watched my daughter until my mother in law could come.
At the hospital things were good, I was calm. My midwife was right there as I walked into the hospital. We hung out in triage until they could take me to a room. I was contracting but wasn't bothered by it yet, I was so much more in control of this experience. In about six hours I had pushed out my son. He breastfed great, he slept, we ate Wendy's and watched Law & Order. What a great birth!
These two experiences were so radically different. One I felt like shit after, the other I was a glowing breastfeeding goddess during postpartum. It was during this time that I was feeling that there are others who might have experiences like my first and it could scar them. How could I help that to not happen? What could I do?
I started looking into becoming a childbirth educator and then I found out about doulas. It was like a lightning strike! I wanted to do that! I started researching doula trainings and found one not far away and signed up. I read and read and read all the books on the reading list and more. I was so excited, I devoured all the information I could. I trained and certified as a birth doula, then a postpartum doula, then a lactation counselor, then a childbirth educator, then a placenta encapsulator. I wanted to help all the families I could have the best experience for them.
My daughter is now 12 and it seems like a lifetime ago that I had that experience. I look at the new mother I was and want to go back in time and hug her. She needed support, and education. I want to be her doula so she could start her journey as a mother feeling empowered not invisible. I am grateful for all that experience taught me and what it has made me into but I don't wish that on anyone and that is why I'm a doula.