On September 21st, 2020 I was woken up in the middle of the night by my first client whose water had broken. I suggested she try to get as much rest as she could knowing very well I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep myself.
1 year of doing this amazing work. I am forever grateful to all the families that have welcomed me into their space. To witness life be born is such a magical experience. To witness how fierce & strong yet vulnerable, soft and gentle people are while they birth life is simply an experience that cannot be described with words. This year of doing this work has cracked me wide open. Expended me beyond limits I didn’t know I had. Has ignited a passion and type of love I didn’t know existed. This work has been so healing for me.
Here are 8 things I have learned since I began this work and started my very own very small biz!
1 – I can’t be everyone’s doula
I strongly believe everyone deserves and would benefit from having a doula, but now I truly see how I can’t be this person for everyone. This transition is so intimate, and I would be foolish to think I am able to support everyone. It is so important for folks to find a doula that they love and feel comfortable with and who shares similar values. It is ok and nothing personal when a family doesn’t hire me, and I only hope for them they get the best most appropriate support from someone else. It is a disservice to them when I accept to work with someone who I didn’t click with. They can feel it and I can feel it too.
2 – I can’t pour from an empty cup
I was pretty ambitious about my capacities when I started this work. I have a hard time saying no and feel so bad when a family is requesting my services and my schedule is full. The truth is this work is hard. It requires me to be emotionally available and hold space for real humans feeling all types of feels. I also believe everyone who steps into a birth space brings their energy with them, so I have to be mindful that I don’t bring anything negative. Self-care has never been such a priority for me. While for previous jobs, pushing aside my needs and performing more was rewarded, doing this while doulaing would have such negative results.
3 – My work isn’t about me
I almost went home crying after every birth I attended being so afraid that I did a terrible job and that my client surely hated me. It was always false and I was just mostly emotional because of lack of sleep, water and/or food. But even if it was true, my performance and feeling validated is never the point. The point and priority is always that my client feel supported, confident and validated. While there is obviously known benefits to having a doula present and I think this type of support is way underrated, babies will be born with or without me there. Birthing folks have everything they need to give birth and people have great experiences without a doula. With that being said, I still absolutely love to read beautiful messages and comments left by my clients and it is a great mood and self-esteem booster.
4 – I am even more so aware of my privileges, downfalls and biases
While my lesson number 1 was to accept and observe this ‘’savior’’ complex of wanting to be everyone’s doula, I had to really sit and observe the areas where I hold privilege (mostly being a white cis woman in Canada). I won’t lie and I admit that it was often hard and uncomfortable, but I really got to know and am still learning about my own biases, limitations and weaknesses. The key is to have an open mind and be willing to listen and learn continuously. Not recognizing my privileges would be such a disservice to my clients and again, it is THEIR experience (not mine) that should be my priority. Always. I try not to judge myself and find ways to utilize those privileges for the greater good. It has been a very reflective, deep journey for me. Way beyond just learning the skills needed to send an invoice and do hip squeezes.
5 – I now know a type of love I never knew before.
Man oh man! There is no more best feeling than being high on oxytocin after attending a birth. It’s a feeling that isn’t towards anyone specifically. Just a warm fuzzy sensation. I truly have such respect and admiration for the people I support and so much affection for the little ones that I witness be born and have the pleasure to see grow.
6 – It can be lonely
This one has more to do with starting a business in general, but wow, can it feel lonely sometimes! I started my initial training only a few months before COVID-19 began, so by the time I was ready to accept clients, we were in lockdown. It was often hard and lonely. I always had jobs in the customer service industry, so I was used to seeing and talking to people a lot and now while I still work with people, the behind the scene happens alone at my little desk in the corner of my bedroom. On top of that, the field I am in is not necessarily the most exciting thing to talk about for most of my friend and family. It is quite misunderstood. I did find a few birthy people in Golden I can talk their ear off and I have been involved with the Doula Services Association of BC so I can interact with other amazing doulas remotely. I also seek out lots of support to help me in building my business.
7 – Community is the solution
Community seems to be the answer to many of my questions. How can parents feel more supported? Better community support that responds to their actual needs. How can I thrive as a business and doula? A community of other doulas and business owners who are honest and willing to lift me up and help me. How can I support folks beyond my clients? Support my community as a whole. How can I support the economy? Invest in my community. I have had the chance to meet many great professionals and business owners in Golden who have been so welcoming and encouraging and I cannot be happier for what they brought me and they bring to the community everyday.
8 – Life is magical and I should trust it more
That first birth happened on my mom’s birthday. The 3rd birth I attended? On my grand-mother’s birthday. Talk about signs! Talk about magic! It might seem very meaningless for certain people but for me, it is a message that I am on the right path. That life is magical and not everything can be explained by science (vaccines; yes, the meaning of attending my first birth on my mom’s birthday; I like to think no). I have so much more trust for my intuition. I pay so much more attention to the subtle messages, patterns and cycles of life. I have witnessed people listen to a wisdom that isn’t spoken with language and display strength that is beyond this physical world. It might sound woo-woo, but it brings me a joy and type of hope that was much needed.
While I know I am still very new to this field of work and that I have much more to learn, I hope for many more years of supporting amazing families. Thank you so much to all the families who trusted me and to all of you who have supported me on this journey.