I’ve heard that the average college student changes majors an average of 6 times before graduation. I believe it! I was a psych major, moved over to family studies, then elementary education, then early childhood education. Only to eventually earn a business degree, an Organizational Psychology and Development degree, and pursue a Masters of Education. After 5 years as a preschool teacher and 11 years in Admissions, I felt like I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. I loved helping students and getting to interact with people of all walks of life. I knew that helping people begin their journey in education was life changing. I thought I would retire in Admissions. And then I got pregnant!
Like most new moms, I was thrilled, excited, overwhelmed, and a little scared. I got the books, watched the movies, and joined the Facebook groups to prepare. I watched The Business of Being Born and it opened my eyes to the birthing world. I learned so much and felt intrigued by the facts it presented. In More of the Business of Being Born, the idea of doulas was introduced to me and I loved knowing that these amazing women who provide support for mamas existed. I knew I needed to have one for my birth!
I interviewed a few and they were ok…but then we met “The One!” We connected right away and she had such a pleasant and comforting presence. I knew she would help us have the kind of birth I envisioned. And she did! She was able to help me prepare mentally, emotionally, and even physically for the big day. Once I went into labor, I was much more prepared for what to expect which helped me ward off the panic I was anticipating. During labor, she really helped encourage a deeper level of communication with my better half. She helped him be involved in a way that I was not expecting, which helped me feel fully supported. Her presence was both calming and empowering because any time I felt doubt or discomfort, she offered suggestions that helped me find a positive outlook and keep going.
But what really did it for me was the fact that she helped me remember my voice. We had discussed in advance what I wanted to have as part of my birth and what I wanted to avoid (my Birth Plan). So, when things were not going according to plan, she was able to remind me of my wishes and it encouraged me to either dig deeper to stick to the plan, or to ask questions of my provider to make informed decisions when our plan had to shift. A couple of times we were able to ask for “five more minutes” before interventions were introduced and in that time, we were able to work on yoga positions, breathing techniques, or a change of mindset which resulted in the avoidance of interventions. All in all, we had to steer away from the original plan, but I felt like the decisions we made were our decisions and were for the best outcome for me and our baby. I don’t know if I would have such positive memories of that day if I didn’t feel like I was an active participant of my birth.
So, my birth experience and having the support of a doula was truly life changing! I knew that I wanted to become the sort of support person who could help shift the way women experience birth. I always found that empowering others fit my personality as an educator, and what better way to fulfill that part of my heart/soul/mind than to help women find their path towards having the experience they desire for one of the most memorable days of their life!
And then we got home from the hospital…and reality set in! I trained for the big day but forgot that this baby didn’t come with instructions! And as a Type A personality who had always been super strong and self-sufficient, I could manage a new baby and running a household, right? Not even close! I had no idea how to balance it all! Between wanting to sit and stare at this beautiful baby for hours at a time, recovering from birth, and the exhaustion, there simply was no steam left for anything else. Finding time to eat a meal or shower seemed impossible! And while we have our family nearby and a ton of friends, help was lacking in the way I needed it. Sure, we had visitors and plenty of phone calls. But even that was exhausting!
So, once the dust settled and I found my way back to normal, I decided that it was time for a major shift. I felt such a calling to become the support person new mamas need during this vulnerable time. I sought the training to become a birth and postpartum doula and left my life in higher education. I absolutely love being able to support families as they prepare to welcome a new baby, or once they have met their new bundle. I find my experience as an educator extremely beneficial because as we know, these babies don’t come with instructions.