Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Doula in training

So this happened.

Last spring, during a Google-search rampage initiated by an Oh My God, What Am I Doing With My Life moment, I came across an announcement for a Birth Doula Training Workshop in St. Louis.  

As some may recall, I had a doula when I gave birth to Will almost 4 years ago.  I can't even imagine how completely botched and horrible the experience would have become if she had not been there.  Every single day that has passed since then, I still take a moment to be thankful for her.

Becoming a doula myself was not something I had ever considered.  In fact, I had to take a step back from anything birth or pregnancy related for quite some time (say, 4 years) because these things triggered a flood of negative emotions in me.  Hyperemesis, the near-disaster that was his birth, and the resultant breastfeeding hell that made me wonder what I'd done to deserve such punishment.  We all survived by the very skin of our teeth.

But when I saw the announcement for the workshop-- a DONA approved doula training that included a childbirth education component required for certification--I knew this was where I belonged.  

The workshop took place over 3 days last weekend.  It was intense.  Intense.  30 hours of birth, birth, birth.  The other 20 or so participants in the course now feel like members of my own family.  Most of what I learned wasn't entirely new to me-- it was more like reawakening muscle memory of my once-extensive command of the vocabulary of birth.  It made me appreciate my own doula even more, after trying on her shoes and walking around for a while.

To me, birth is a big, big deal, and after this workshop, I definitely feel prepared to support other women through the process.  In a strange sort of way, my many years of running marathons and ultra marathons, as well as crewing for Rob during his races, has provided me a remarkable preparation for becoming a doula.  Let me be clear: giving birth is nothing like running a marathon or even an ultra, but the kind of support you provide in both situations is actually quite similar.  What you have to do is make someone believe that they can do something, and then they go ahead and do it.  I think I'm pretty good at that.  I got Rob to go up the volcano at Fuego y Agua this year.  I can make a laboring woman believe in herself.

At the moment, I have no real leads on potential clients, but I certainly hope that I have the chance to attend births someday.  While I am gaining experience, I think I would be happy doing community service work for free.  For example, working with incarcerated women who are transported to the hospital from their facility.  Teen moms.  Women who do not speak English.  Low income women who want to have a doula but don't have the means to pay for one.

If anyone out there knows of someone who might be interested in having me attend her birth, please feel free to send her my way!

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

if I need a doula, you'll be the first one I'll call!!!!! >:) may all your wishes come true!! stay safe whatever path you take!!!! luv you ,mama

Alena said...

Melissa, this is wonderful. I hope you'll be able to pursue this path.

I don't know you personally, but I think any woman will greatly benefit by having your by her side during this painful and wonderful process of giving birth.

Melissa said...

Aw, thanks Alena. Best wishes to you. xoxo