In the past couple of weeks, an old ghost has come to haunt me.
In a previous life, back...well...12 years ago, I wanted to be a doula. I finished up an apprenticeship at a fabulous herb garden, after learning so much and so hard about what it means to be a farm worker. I learned about what it means to be surrounded by the woman power of two very spirited no-nonsense women who loved life with all it's bumps and hurtles. I loved it. And I realized that at that time, I wanted to use this knowledge and strength to be present in what was promised to be one of the most miraculous moments in life. Although, at 18/19 years old, I had absolutely NO idea what it was all about. I had been witness to the circumstance of birth, as well as pregnancy. It was a complete unknown. All I knew was it was powerful, life changing and incredible.
And then, at 23, one week after graduating from college, I had my first baby. It wasn't at all what I had had in mind for birth. We suffered through some major complications, and thus had been forced into what for me was the most feared environment I had ever been. A big huge hospital. With drugs, lots of nurses and doctors and belly monitors. They had me strapped in a bed, with my birth support across the room and staring at me like I was a bomb about to erupt. (This was my mother and the father of my baby).
After my little one was born, by c-section, I vowed to Never go through that again. It was without a doubt the most painful (emotionally and physically) experience that I have ever had. My spirit was crushed and I was certain that I would never connect with my daughter. On this, I was frightfully wrong. My daughters, both of them, are the most incredible beings I have ever met. Someone, I don't remember who, said when you give birth to your children you are bringing your best friends into the world. I absolutely believe this to be true. My daughters are a true gift.
I was able to connect with my oldest, although it took a couple of days. Once my milk came in, and I realized we were to learn this journey together, I was able to push back that it wasn't the experience I wanted for either of us. Many things had gone very wrong in her birth, and it was mainly because I just didn't know better. As a 23 year old, I thought I had all the facts I needed, but at 30 I now look back and realize just how young I really was. It took sometime, but we connected in a way that is now completely whole. She was my first, and every single thing I didn't know. We learned together and powerfully. I look at her now and realize just how much we have grown together.
My youngest daughter's birth had the power to heal. She was born in a pool in our living room after a short hard labour. (Relatively. She began gently announcing she was coming 24 hours in advance, but labour didn't get hard until 4 hours before she was born...) After her birth, when our midwife was tucking us into bed, she wrapped the quilts around us and said how much this child will heal us. I cry still at the rightness of these words...my fierce little redhead is the strongest of us all.
I began to pursue a career as a doula when I was 19. I audited birthing classes, talked to mamas and midwives. I then when to college, putting this whole desire on hold. For a semester I studied mamas and herbs, history of midwifery. Then I strayed from this and began to paint, write and study differently. I took it as what I was supposed to be doing. And so, five years later, when my daughter was 2, I began to track down this path again. It was an unanswered longing in me, so I picked it up again. Attending a DONA training in Boston, I realized just how much work being certified would mean. And I was thrilled. I would do it.
And then life through me some loops and hammers, and I wasn't able to accomplish it, yet again. I had a small child and an income to make. Food to put on the table and single mother-hood to master.
And now, after a new marriage (Now two years old!!) and a new baby (15 months!) I am bound and determined to make try number three the one that counts.
And so...doula-ness, here we come. After talking with my fabulous sister in law, who is a midwife extraordinaire, I have new encouragement that this is a good and a spiritually fruitful endeavor. Healing of mind and heart and working with the karma of the universe...yup.
I am planning on currently working with post-partum mamas who need the help of a post partum doula, just while my littlest one still needs me so often and much. And then eventually when she sleeps through the night without her mama-milk fix, I will try birth-doula-ing. That being said...if anybody needs a postpartum doula anytime soon....get in touch!!!
(And what, exactly is a post partum doula? This is a wonderful explanation...)