How I Became a Doula
One of the questions I'm asked most often during client interviews is "so how did you decide to become a doula?" It's a long story. And what better place to share a long story than a blog post?
Yes, that's little baby me on the day I was born. Huge cheeks & those hungry baby fists.
For as long as I can remember, I've always felt called to help people in need. I used to sell lemonade and donate the "profits" to freeing the circus animals or to homeless shelters or UNICEF. I became a vegetarian in 6th grade after doing a school research project on animal rights. I led an organization in college called "Do Random Acts of Kindness." I say all this with the sole intention of conveying the fact that caring about the wellbeing of others is something that has felt deeply engrained in my identity & personality for a very long time.
I graduated from college and realized that I had no money and no plan. I majored in Organizational Studies and Sociology with a minor in Social Work. I thought about going to grad school to get my MSW, but after speaking with several social workers, I was worried about feeling too constrained by government regulations & policies to be helpful. So I resolved that I would start by getting a job at a company that cared about the world. A company that was ethically, environmentally, and socially responsible & forward-thinking. And I found that in Epic.
Working at Epic was a great job for me in so many ways. I met my partner & the love of my life. I made amazing friends that I hope will be in my life for a very long time. I grew resilient & learned how to be organized, efficient, & how to work with executives. I got to travel to amazing places like Dubai & Beirut & NYC & India & Italy & San Diego. I am very grateful for the time that I spent there.
But after almost 6 years at Epic, I needed a change. The "Sunday Scaries" started creeping into Saturday & Friday & every day. I was tired & hadn't ever taken the time in my life to develop a strong self-care routine or to really go inward & learn more about myself as a person. And I wasn't following that deep drive in me to nurture others. While Epic does great work for improving patient outcomes, I was craving a more direct, one-on-one caregiving relationship.
So I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do. And a kind friend offered me this invaluable advice --
You don't need to know what you're going to do for the rest of your life. Just follow whatever intrigues you & see where it leads.
And I found that so freeing. I gave myself permission to change my situation without feeling like I needed to have it all figured out before doing so. I took a leap.
I thought about what I spent my free time thinking & learning about. And it all came back to pregnancy, birth, & early parenthood. I've seen every episode of "Call the Midwife" 3 times. I have watched British Reality TV Shows on Youtube like "One Born Every Minute" and "The Midwives." I listened to Birth Stories on "The Birth Hour Podcast" on my daily commute. My boyfriend will walk in while I'm watching a birth video and make educated comments like "ohhhh is that the ring of fire?" or "that sounds like transition!" because of how much I love talking to him about what I've learned. And this isn't because I'm ready to have kids myself - while I do plan to have children some day, the interest never felt like it was about me. I was amazed by what the female body could do. I
So I decided that Midwifery was a good path to walk down. But then I hit a roadblock - I had never been to a birth. And how can I sign up for 3 years of education to become a midwife without knowing for sure that I'm not going to pass out in the delivery room? So I emailed several Midwives in the Madison Area asking if I could shadow a birth with them. They all said no (understandably), but that I should sign up for doula training through DONA International if I was really interested in getting my foot in the door.
So I did. And in December of 2017 I attended the 4-day training with Amy Gilliland and realized that following my intrigue had led me exactly where I needed to be. On the last day of class, we all stood in a circle and shared something about the weekend. And I felt overcome. I started tearing up because my body & heart were telling me that I was finally in the right place and following the right path. I had found a career that's specifically about caring for others, in a very vulnerable and intimate chapter of life. I had a found a way to help.
It has all been a whirlwind since then -- I quit Epic in March of this year and have been "doula-ing" full-time since then. I still have days when I worry about money & whether I can really make this dream a reality. But I feel so grateful to get to do what I love. Every time I drive home from a prenatal visit or a birth I am always smiling ear-to-ear, so in awe of the fact that this is my job.
Thank you for sharing your lives & your births with me. I am so humbled & grateful.