Why and How our Fort Myers Doula Agency Got its Start


Trigger warning...infant loss mentioned....this post is very real. Keep scrolling if you're not looking for heavy...This is not a "let's have fun" post. It's full of Mindfulness though, if you are in that headspace. It's about why I opened the doula agency. It's very personal. You have been warned

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How Mindful Birth Services and Doula Care got its start:

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I'm telling this story because it's the truth. I've never told it before. What led me away from practicing as a solo doula and into creating the doula agency? It was grief. Scroll past if it's too heavy, trust me I get it. It's taken me 3 years to even mention it. The takeaway is that our team is strong and we can contain your birth worries. Read on if you're ready.

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It was January 2018 when I knew. I knew there was no way I could continue this doula work without a team of support. While I had already been a (busy) doula since 2010, I knew the stats that most doulas burned-out at the two year mark. (I was now 8 years in). I saw it happening all around me, too. Passionate people would complete their own childbearing journey, decide to become a doula, take the trainings, attend a birth or two and burn out quickly because a) birth is intense b) they had a small baby and childcare is tricky when you're on-call c) shifts are loooong and demanding d) being on-call is wayyy more selfless than I have words to describe here e) many new doulas worked for free bc they thought birth was cool, which is altogether unsustainable, lol. After a few underpaid births, they realize sleep is pretty cool, too, and they drop off the doula map. Plus, there's a lot to learn and every single labor is your most demanding teacher. Excellence is required.


I had just experienced my first loss as a doula, a dear family who I loved, and it just rocked me to my core. It's hard to talk about and there's this invisible space around it because no one wants to worry a pregnant mom. While I had always been so proud that I had weathered waves of being a doula for years and years completely on my own, relying on myself, doing the self-work and taking ego out of serving my clients, I broke down hard at this loss. Statistically I knew it was coming, but there is nothing to prepare for a loss this grand. As an empath, this altogether shook me and broke me down. (And I'm no stranger to loss. I lost my brother when I was a teen, a deeply painful experience. And I lost my first baby at 13 weeks, an equally heart-wrenching loss). We might believe that a life of joy also includes losses but losing a baby at term is the cruelest. So my question evolved to how can I show up for my clients when we are hurting so much ourselves? I knew if I were to continue doing this doula work, I would need to begin building my own support system. Even more importantly, if other doulas were to gain experience to BEST serve our community, they were going to need to stick around for more than 2 years at a stretch. And MOST importantly, the families I worked with deserved more than just me. As just one person, and a mother of 3 kids of my own, how could I best show up for my families when they were at their most vulnerable?


Enter my idea to create a Doula Agency. I immediately brought on Emily and Tara. They embraced the doula agency life in a heartbeat. A few doulas came and went. Tanya and Christa entered and stuck. (We just passed our 3 year anniversary as a thriving doula agency). I took some time to build the agency. I grieved for the loss of my client's daughter. I sought therapy. I grounded myself. I grew. I was ready. I felt ready to continue to grow the agency and put aside my own issues around loss.


I took on a few more births and decided upon a "last birth" date, meaning the one last birth I would doula for, so I could focus on growing the agency to better serve our SWFL community. Then one more repeat client came to me. One of those amazing families. She asked if I would support her during her birth. I said of course I will be there, even though I'm not attending births right now. And I showed up.

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And they lost the baby. And I fell deep. Deep, deep, down very deep. This one blindsided me completely. Not that it's ever something we can anticipate.


I would NOT have been able to show up for this family in any way had I not had these amazing doulas to support me. It took months of grieving, therapy, soul-searching, to be able to go on. I took time. I grieved. I slowed down. I showed up as best as I could for this family (still falling short from my own grief). I sought out mentorship. I learned about love and connection in a more raw way than ever. We show up, over and over and over again. That's how we help others in this life. We show up. We learn from ourselves and our past and then we keep showing up for those who need us. My doula team called me, they checked on me, they lifted me up, they helped me with our clients, they supported me until I was able to support myself again. All this while acknowledging that my grief was but a minimal fraction of what our families were clawing through.


Part of this "calling" to be a doula has been opening up to the moments that crack us apart, to continually set ego aside and to keep showing up, family by family, focusing into what your specific family needs and what your needs are as the birthing mother. It's taking the difficult moments from our pasts and weaving them into a new fabric, a warm woven fabric that can contain your needs, without question.


We (my doula team) aren't here in this particular agency because we think birth is cool. I mean, it is! But it's so much more. We witness every single birth, every single journey to parenthood, as something *sacred*, not because that sounds neat but because we have *lived it*, supported each other through the fire so to speak, and we C E L E B R A T E your beautiful babies with each and every birth. Know why we think birth announcements are a big deal? It's a gift and a privilege to share their amazing, sacred arrivals with you and for you to share them with our community. We weep tears of joy at uneventful births. We hold our breaths through uncertain moments during your labors with a smile on our face. We stroke your hair, take as much pain away as we can through hip squeezes, we set up the twinkle lights and essential oils so help create oxitocin for your experience, we "dance" with you through different positions to help your baby easily be born into your smiling hands, your sweat-soaked chest. We breathe a sigh of relief when we slip out of the room, barely noticed, leaving you as a new family to enjoy each other. Many times we weep in our car. Almost always I stumble into my bed for the day, usually taking 2 days to fully recover from the demands of birth support, sleepless nights, physical exhaustion.


Still here?


The compassion and experience that we hold as a group of doulas is something I clasp tightly to my chest. When I speak of the hard parts of birth it's because we have lived them. When we work with parents we honor your need for believing in the innocence of birth. We believe you when you say your baby will come early, or late, or that you trust your provider, or you don't, that birth will be fast, that labor will be easy, that you can't wait to take birth classes, that your partner is amazing, that you're feeling confident, or uncertain...we believe you. We've been here 100+ times. There is nothing that is too big or too small for us. We've lived it, walked it, gotten through to the other side. We can hold your emotional response, reframe it, guide you to your own strength, honor your trials and celebrate your successes. And we support each other through it all, which is what has contributed to our trust in each other as a doula agency. The stronger the fabric of our doula team, the more comfort, reassurance and expertise we can pay forward to your family. What I could not possibly provide as just one human, was enveloped around me from my team.


For what is the purpose of labor and birth if not to build deeper connections and learn about yourself in the process? Is it not being able to speak out loud your deepest beliefs in a trusted space that will help thrust you over the threshold into healthy parenthood?


We have been doing this for a bit. We get you. We got you. We'll be there on your journey with you. We'll lead you down paths you didn't know exist and we'll hold you up. We are rooting for your easy, straightforward labor experience and will guide you to the keys to get you there. And we aren't afraid of the big stuff, the stuff that needs to be said. Always honoring you, listening to you, learning from you. We've been led to this moment for many reasons and we are humbled into learning why. And my sweet doula babies? YOUR babies? I hold EVERY ONE in my heart, they are all now a part of me, forever. And I'm thankful that I didn't give up when life got heavy, because I believe that as a team we are stronger. Thank you Tara, Em, Christa and Tanya for all the ways you've woven us together.


Thank you to all of our moms and parents for trusting us and allowing us to support you.


Most of all, thank you to our loss moms for your sacrifice, for your deep vulnerability, and for your forgiveness. My prayer for you is peace.


In doula love,

Christine