Doula Diaries: The Return
Ever wonder what it's like to be a doula with a family? I'll tell ya! Welcome to my doula life! My main characters are Mike, my superhero of a husband and father to our three children; Jace, my 13 year old guitar-playing, basketball-loving, sharp-witted son; Kaia, my 10 year old sunshine daughter who is seriously rocking gymnastics and dance; and Ty, my 3 year old whirlwind of a preschooler. And then there's me! I've been doulaing since 2011 and have attended more than 85 births to date and have taught over 100 couples in my childbirth classes. This is my full-time gig! With three children and a doula business, private and group childbirth education classes, evening sports and afterschool homework, staying at home as a full-time mom and also creating a doula agency, plus space for my own health and fitness, there is, as they say, never a dull moment.
I'm currently on-call for a really fun couple who I've had the pleasure of working with for quite some time now, including mentoring them through my 4-week Birthing From Within class in January. They are prepared for anything, in that way that only first time parents can be prepared. Their eyes are wide open, their hearts are ready, their expectations are realistic...and yet, everything changes once that first contraction in active labor roars. These are moments I love as a doula, when birth comes knocking and I am able to connect my heart and hands fully to the birthing couple and offer more than just guidance and support; my entire soul opens with theirs as I welcome those roars, as I match the intensity with a steady mind, as I steady the room with a grounded heart. Bring it, birth fairy!
This installment of the Doula Diaries is called The Return for a couple of reasons. One, it's been a LONG time since I've written a Doula Diaries episode! (I've been super busy attending births!) But the other reason is because I have heeded the call that I've been thinking through for a while now, and finally have plunged into something amazing. I have wanted to do something a little bit different and have always wanted to work with a group of doulas, and have finally worked through all the "what ifs" and "what abouts". As with most good things, the sure way to start is to take action and that's what I've done.
"As with most good things, the sure way to start is to take action"
So as of January 2018, I've got 3 new Mindful Birth Doulas, and plans for a 4th on the way. These girls are pretty amazingly awesome, and they all bring some strong traits to the table. They ALL have a passion for doula work and there is nothing they wouldn't do for our birthing moms! We are setting up some strong pillars of this doula agency, devising policies and working together to bring fresh skills to the entire team. It's a really exciting time to bring my mentoring skillset over to my doulas, and in a way it's not much different that mentoring my birthing families. If you've worked with me, you know that I take my responsibility of holding your heart and trust in my hands quite seriously, and I'm doing the same for my doulas. It's an honor and a privilege to work beside these wonderful women, and our birthing families will soon feel what I mean!
I'm training each doula personally in addition to their doula training and experience they already possess, with an emphasis on setting ego aside to really feel in to what our birthing families need in each moment. The most exciting part for me is that Mindful Birth can now offer not only doula care, distance doula care and childbirth education, but also postpartum doula care and lactation consulting, with placenta encapsulation not far behind. But perhaps the most important detail is that we are committed to doing this all thoughtfully and with compassionate hearts and minds. We are grounded, humble, and honored to serve. We are embodying the Birthing From Within philosophy of deep listening, self growth and understanding, without judgment of the outcome. I trust these wonderful women with this huge piece of my own heart that I have cultivated over the past 8 years as a solo doula dedicated to sharpening my skills. Great things are happening.
"great things are happening"
And now...how am I embodying this in my doula life? Just look at the kids in the picture above. I feel lucky to guide their hearts for these few short years before they are grown up! In the same way as I hold my doula families, and my new doula team, I hold my children (but with a little more fragility and a nearly tangible piece of my heart). Our New Year's resolutions included creating more time to volunteer in our community. My little Ty guy and I play trucks and diggers, excavators and bulldozers, backhoe loaders and cherry-pickers, cement mixers and cranes. He's got big ideas and I can only hope that one day he'll use those ideas to serve others. He volunteers his gifts to me daily.
Kaia is already using her gifts to serve; she volunteers every week for an organization called RAIN (Rescue Animals In Need). Her heart touches these animals in need and she's already learning what it means to lead with an open heart.
Jace, my teenager, is navigating the rough waters of middle school and wading through who he is and who he wants to become. He stays humble despite his straight A's (#mombrag!), and musical talents. He's taken a lead by volunteering with the Fort Myers Youth Track Club during their races, and helps his sister when she volunteers with RAIN. What I want my children to learn is to follow their hearts and to lead with compassion, a steady mind and a grounded heart. The rest will follow.
The rest will follow. For my kids, for me...and for you.
Your dreams will follow
Your birth will follow
your heart will follow
Will you follow where your heart leads you?
P.S. Stay tuned for the next edition of The Doula Diaries, and if you enjoyed this one, leave me a comment below or on my facebook page!
P.P.S. My Birth Classes page got a fine-tuning! Now you can register for group classes (June 2018) and private classes directly from the registration form on the site.