I am still on a post-Listen To Your Mother HIGH from Saturday night and I'm losing my voice.
I wanted to share the essay that I read on stage to a packed house at our show. I feel so privileged to have been able to share this essay on a local stage that will then be put up on YouTube.
Let me know what you think in the comments please!
I am a doula.
Now, MAYBE you just nodded your head because you know what a doula is and think they are awesome, OR you shook your head because you think doulas are super crunchy and only for hippies who birth at home OR you got a really confused look on your face because you thought I said something in another language and have no idea what a doula is.
To be fair, Doula is a Greek word that means “mother helper.” Most specifically, I am a birth doula. I give pregnant women tons of information about how to get the birth experience they want and help women physically, psychologically, and emotionally through labor and birth. It is basically, the coolest job ever…most of the time.
I recently went to a performance of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, and one of the monologues is titled, “I Was There.” The piece is Ensler’s reflection on the awesome beauty and power of the vagina to bring life into the world. I was sitting near a doula friend of mine and we turned to each other after the show and talked about how we get to be there all the time.
Doulas have this great privilege to be invited into the intimate space of new beginnings for families. We not only see babies be born, but mothers as well. We hold hands, suggest position changes, and squeeze hips until our arms are exhausted beyond belief sometimes. We voraciously read everything pregnancy and birth related, and bite our tongues when we hear misinformation and bad advice being given to pregnant women. Personally, I quietly go hand these women a business card and tell them to call me, but not every doula is so brazen.
I have seen all kinds of mothers be born into this world as their child comes earth-side. I have seen mothers weep at the sight of their wrinkly vernix covered child being thrust into their arms while their umbilical cord is still attached and their physical connection is not yet separated. I have seen mothers reach for their phone to update Facebook as they hold their 1 minute old baby wanting to share the moment with the world. I have seen a mother scared to death and waiting to hear the cry of her baby as it is pulled from her splayed abdomen in the operating room. I have seen a mother numb as she feels her baby slide out far too early and without a heartbeat. I have heard the joyful moans of a mother who is no longer concerned about the waning pains of labor, who is absolutely in love at the sight of her family of now three. I’ve stayed with a mother as her newborn is rushed to the NICU and the father follows not to return for several hours.
It is sacred, this space that a doula occupies as a mother is being born. The mother is completely consumed with their baby and the task at hand, and I get to be there just for her. These beginnings are magical, no matter how they happen. Being there so many times has changed the way that I look at motherhood altogether. I come home exhilarated from the experience of yet another beginning to a motherhood journey for someone else, and so thankful for the journey that I have been on so far. I squeeze my two girls tight, no matter the hour, and smell their hair remembering their own entries into the world and my beginnings as a mother.
Every birth is different. I have never attended two births that were exactly alike, and I believe this reflects the journey of motherhood better than I could ever put into words. We all experience beginnings in different ways, and our journeys take us many different places, but we are all part of this lovely club of motherhood. Not one of us performs motherhood exactly the same, and for that I am truly grateful.
I get to be there all the time to see the birth of mothers, and I never forget their faces as it happens to them. I feel nothing but awe for these mothers every single time. Doulas get to occupy this singular space between expecting and beginning. We’re invited to bear witness and to help usher in the beginning of motherhood journeys for our clients. We get to be there, and for that I am truly grateful.
Here I am with our lovely photographer Erin Merris, our Emcee Stacey Godbold of Project Reveal fame, & the always beautiful Mary Rose Stewart!