Very few journeys in this life are as sacred and holy as the journey of birth. The courage it takes to say yes to pursuing the pregnancy, especially if one has endured loss of life, struggles getting pregnant, or you’re a first time parent. Now add to that the possibility of walking this journey alone, not knowing what your rights are as the birthing person, and being a member of the BIPOC community to top it all off. Birthing persons… People who share my skin tone are dying at 3-4 times the rate, sometimes as much as 12 times the rate depending on the state one lives in, and while the birthing person may very well not be alone and have a loving partner, but more often than not the partner is stepping into this journey just as unprepared, not knowing where to start or end, and when they believe the do, these partners realize quickly that a bit of extra love and support could have changed the experience both for themselves & their loved one. It’s these very same partners who end up being so incredibly grateful for the presence of a Doula.
I have found myself so deeply grateful and filled with awe when I look back on the births that I have taken part in, and it has not been many so far, all the more exciting are the births to come in the future. A Doula spends weeks even months in advance with the birthing person and their partner building relationships, trust, and honor, and while we prepare as a team for the life that is one the way there is no telling what is to come until we are in the actual birthing space. This where the rubber meets the road, or as it is said, “This is where things get real!” Make no mistake that any Doula worth her weight in gold has pulled out all of the stops when it comes to educating, empowering, and preparing the birthing person and their partner for birth, but when emotions are high and ever changing the birthing family needs the support of another human who can and will walk alongside them until the end.
“You know it’s ok to cry, right?” Words I spoke to a first time Dad who moments after his little girl was born he was clearly struggling through his emotions. The nurses assumed he was going to faint or be sick, while Dad continued to make clear he was fine, as Doula there was a sense and a different set of eyes that saw a man realize that his life was no longer his own. He now had one of life's greatest responsibilities placed in his lap and it hit him. It hit him hard. Fear, joy, excitement, uncertainty… life forever changed. A new life entrusted to him to care and provide for and in the midst of navigating these emotions being bombarded by well meaning stuff who couldn’t see past their medical degree to see the emotional need.
It was in that moment that I really truly came to understand the power and the importance of having a Doula present. While Doulas first and most important priority is the birthing person and their rights, a Doula is and always will be for that of the family as well. Our family is who we are.