Celebrating Birthing Stone’s Village
As we celebrate World Doula Week, we, the Portland postpartum doulas of Birthing Stone want to share a few words of what being a doula means to us. I (Tiffany) recently wrote what fuels me as a doula in this 2 part blog for Onya Baby When posed with this question, this what a few of our doulas had to say:
One of the beautiful and unexpected gifts I’ve received from being a doula has been the opportunity to meet so many people with a huge variety of backgrounds and lives. People I just never would have met otherwise and I’m so much richer for the experiences. To be able to enter a family’s life at one of their most vulnerable and exciting moments… it’s such an honor. In the short time I get to be with these families, we share an intimacy and depth that’s unusual in other relationships. To glean from their different perspectives and approaches, not just to labor but to life, has really made an impression on me, made me more compassionate and opened my heart even more. So I always feel thankful to my clients, not just for inviting me to their birth but for leaving an imprint on my life! Not many jobs make such and impact and I’m so thankful!
My favorite thing about being a doula is that it reminds me how proud I am to be a woman. I see strength, perseverance and sacrifice in so many different ways. I am humbled by how that, in turn, affects me as a woman and a mother. I learn something from each woman, each experience and am revived by the new life that I am surrounded by! I am blessed to call my passion my “job”.
I was raised in a home where being together as a family as top priority and always assumed I would have family around. I was raised by a village and always expected to have that village nearby. To add to this, my mom has two sisters and between the three of them and my two very special grandmothers I was surrounded by a legacy of strong females and powerful birthing stories. There was always an atmosphere of support and nurturing for my sister as well as myself.
Then, I got married and moved away (as often happens) and I no longer had that village nearby (this was before Skype). I became pregnant and although I felt I had the knowledge ingrained, I was still lonely. Loneliness is tough, especially when I grew up in such a different environment. Nevertheless, right before that first birth, my Mom came and stayed with me and this was such a balm. It was so natural for me to have that support, and so necessary because the hospital staff was not at all supportive at that time.
When I discovered what Doula’s are and do, I realized this was exactly what I knew, needed, and had subconsciously expected. We, as women, need each other. During pregnancy, possibly more than at any other time, we need other women around us. If you ask a Doula about her experiences, you’re more than likely going to hear that they do this work from their hearts. And, for a Doula, that’s true; we’re often ruled by our hearts. I am given the indescribable gift of witnessing miracles, over and over again with each new pregnancy. I witness courage and sacrifice at its most raw. I witness the loving tears spilled by grown men as they watch their beloved bring a new child into this world. And, I witness new life. To me being a Doula encompasses that: new life, support, community, and sisterhood.
I would say my favorite moments are when mamas begin to connect to their babies even before they take their first breath. When they begin to embrace labor as terribly wonderful and they realize that the pain is a light affliction compared to the glory ahead. I saw this at a birth recently when a mama was fought hard to welcome their second child into the world in the way that she felt was the safest and healthiest for their family. Even when others weren’t honoring her right to parent in labor, she let their negativity fall to the floor and focused on bringing her baby into the world. When he was crowning and and she was about to burst with the joy and courage she carried for so long, she turned to her husband and then to me and gave us both enthusiastic high fives exclaiming, “WE DID IT!! WE DID IT!!” My heart was overjoyed to see her fall in love with her son, with that love that she had already been letting grow. Before he was born, she knew him and loved him and protected him and spoke for him when he couldn’t speak for himself. She held onto all of that and saw labor as part of the process and not something to be feared. It was so full of joy and hope and love and it was infectious! It was awesome!
My sister had her first baby 2 months ago, and I had the distinct pleasure to be invited. Over the last 9 years being a doula for many different women, during many different birthing experiences this was to be my first time being at the birth of a family member.
She labored beautifully at home in bed, on the toilet, in the tub. Her husband was a beautiful source of support for her, and her midwives were a calm, unobtrusive presence. As she pushed and we began to see my nephews head I was able to reach down and my hands welcomed him into the world.
Being invited to the birth of my nephew was an honor I will never forget. I have never felt closer to my sister and brother-in-law. The power of birth is so enormous!