A friend asked me recently if I had ever thought about being a doula. I get this question a lot.
When I had my first two kids, I didn’t know any other mothers except for my own, my mother in law, and a friend who lived a couple time zones away. Many of my friends had recently graduated from college and moved away. Suffice to say it was an isolating time.
One of the things that saved me during this time was working at a small maternity boutique where I was able to interact with mothers daily. Over the next 10 years, I had many conversations with many different women at a unique time in their lives. I connected with some clients more than others; mother-to-mother conversations get very personal very quickly. Over maternity clothes we discussed fears of birth and parenting, excitement, surprises, good outcomes and bad ones, sex, big decisions, breastfeeding troubles, sibling rivalry, birth control, periods… you get the idea. One day I found myself giving an impassioned speech to a couple while holding nursing bras after the pregnant mother said something about birth being terrifying and icky. Fearing I had gone a bit far, I looked at her husband who had a look on his face that could only be described as jealousy. I wasn’t sure about her, but he was totally ready to give birth.
These hundreds of conversations, along with my own journey of becoming a mother, fascinated me, not just with birth, but with the transition from pregnancy into motherhood. Not just the several hours of labor, or the birth experience itself (which I love), but the entire journey, from pregnancy through the postpartum.
By the time Marlowe was born, 7 years after my first, things were completely different. I had much more confidence as a mother but also so much support from close friends. While only a couple of them had children of their own, my friends supported me through the pregnancy and postpartum with their presence, humor and, in the postpartum time with meals. There wasn’t a step of the way from pregnancy through my first year with Marlowe that I didn’t feel supported and thankful for that support.
The experience of having children with this network of support was so vastly different from my experience in my first two pregnancies it was overwhelming. It was as though I had not realized how isolated I was before until I had something to compare it to.
Perhaps one of the reasons being a birth doula doesn’t appeal to me is that I think of birth as a unique rite of passage similar your wedding day. Yes, it’s important. Yes, it’s magical. Yes, you will remember it forever. But it’s one (albeit huge) part of the story of your relationship. So much happens before, and so much will continue after. This whole journey is what I love so much about women. But what do I do with that?
As I figure out how to make use of this, in addition to my usual postings about Stitch Fix, crafty stuff, random thoughts, my kitchen , etc, I’ll include a series of posts under the theme of Supporting the Mama.
There will be no more births for me and my time at my beloved little boutique ended with 2015. I am not sure what I want to do with this energy in the long run, but I feel very lucky to have several expecting friends, and while for some people that means snuggling newborn babies, for me it means I get to do one of my favorite things: lending support to moms.