Today I received my notification that I am a certified labor doula with CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association). This was never the plan.
I majored in Forest Science and minored in Philosophy in college. Strange combination, I know-- but each subject intrigued me. I followed my interests and figured I would find my way.
The way found me.
My first job out of college was working for a biotechnology start-up, planting mutated versions of a little flowering weed called Arabidopsis thaliana. Often I would sit alone at a sterile hood (laboratory work station), just me and little seedlings in Petri dishes. I missed people.
My husband's job necessitated a move, so I left the laboratory and tried my hand in marketing for a non-profit organization. The work required the creativity I was craving to utilize, but was limiting in growth. My next position found me working in product management for a large international automotive supplier. I could construct a spreadsheet with multiple embedded formulas like nobody's business, and I worked with a great team of people-- but it was hard for me to get really passionate about auto parts.
I was at this company when I became pregnant with my first child. One day a co-worker who had just had a baby asked if I was going to have a doula at my birth. I had never heard of a doula, but I was interested. My husband and I interviewed and hired her doula (also her best friend), and then hired her again for the birth of my daughter a few years later.
It was at my daughter's birth that I made a turn toward birth work. Without telling you too much of my story, I'll reveal one fact: the on-call doctor, who was the doctor I had at my first birth, whose bedside manner I didn't care for, whose practice I left when I became pregnant the second time, didn't make my daughter's birth. I didn't have a rapid labor. She was just inexplicably not there.
For over an hour, fully dilated, I was told by the nurses that she would be there in 15 minutes, and not to push. I lost track of how many times I heard "15 more minutes." I was fatigued, after over 24 hours without sleep. My legs were shaking and starting to cramp. The pressure in my pelvis was too great. I was ready to push out this baby and trying to mentally keep it together because I was told I couldn't push. For so, so, so long.
It was my doula, who had already brought comfort to my anxious husband with her presence, who had seamlessly integrated with him and my mom to support me, who had suggested everything I had needed, like getting in the tub and putting hot towels on my back and squeezing my hips and soft words-- she got me through that intense challenge of mind and spirit, as well. Without her, I could have suffered real emotional birth trauma. Instead, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience.
I knew I wanted serve others in the same way. So a few years after my daughter was born, I took her labor doula training through CAPPA. I took on my own clients, and in the background, worked toward my certification over the past two years.
There were many reasons not to complete my certification. My father got sick and died early last year. My kitchen flooded the year before that and we took on an unexpected and expensive remodel. We moved to a new state. It's not even a requirement to work as a doula. And more.
But it meant something to me. So like with my daughter's birth, I pushed through. I hope that my clients will see this certification as another sign of my dedication to this work and to their experience, that they will have someone there to help them push through as well.
I've worked in the forest, in the lab, and in an office cubicle. My favorite and most passionate work has been alongside clients as they reach inside to find their innermost strength, and give birth to their babies. Each birth is an honor to witness.