I knew I was called to be a doula but I wasn’t sure how I’d pull it off. I had talked to my husband, my mom, a few very close friends, & a few doula mamas online – they literally ALL encouraged me to go for it. #ittakesavillage
A local training was suggested and I began to look into it. I emailed back and forth with the legendary Kathy McGrath about the details logistics of the training. Training was 3 days long from 9am-5pm. Everette and I have only been away from each other for 2-3 hours MAX and only a few times. He still nurses frequently and we’re very attached so the thought of being away from him for that long was anxiety inducing. Kathy, the trainer & literally one of the first doulas!, was very understanding. She told me the times of the breaks and lunch and encouraged me to have my son and husband join us! What a relief! I felt even more encouraged to do the training after our email exchanges.
Even though we only live 40 minutes away, we booked a nearby hotel for the weekend so that the guys would be close by. This also made me feel more at ease.
I finally committed! I sent my check and registration form off in the mail and then the real anxiety began… blah! I knew I wanted to become a trained doula but I felt mom guilt for being away from my boogie for that long. I was nervous to be away from him and then self doubt started to creep in. Would I even be good at this!? I felt guilty that I have a BS in Early Childhood Education and that I am licensed to teach in 3 states. I felt guilty about spending the money (training, hotel, eating out, travel, etc.)
I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming anxiety and nervousness for days (and seriously weeks) leading up to the training. I spent time in prayer and asking friends to keep me close in theirs.
I made a list of everything we needed to pack and started gathering things all week. Then, Thursday night (the night before the training) I felt like nothing was ready! I went to a meeting at church and then left feeling even MORE guilt that I wasn’t ready for the training yet! We stayed up way too late packing the car and double checking everything. (So thankful for my husband when I get all nutty! He is calm and relaxed!)
We left EARLY Friday morning and got to the training an hour early. Whoops! Haha we were glad to be early instead of late though! We went inside where we met Kathy, Ngozi, Jami, & Amber. They were all four buzzing around like busy bees making sure everything was perfect for our training (and it was!) They went out of their way to make sure the three of us felt welcomed. I nursed boogie and we got him dressed. He ate breakfast and then went off to be with daddy for a few hours until lunch time!
The room filled with 20 amazing women. They were all there to be DONA trained doulas! Everyone was unique in their personalities, appearances, and life experiences- but we all had one desire: to support and empower laboring mamas! It’s okay to get chills! This many badass women in one spot will do that to you!
We started with intros and quickly escalated into opening our hearts and minds up to each other. We cried over the opening video. We learned ways to physically and emotionally support a laboring mama and her partner. We practiced with partners. We role played. We literally shared some of our most intimate moments and then seconds later would be laughing together. We learned the ins and outs of running our own or working for a doula business. We learned that pillows are essential to getting laboring mamas comfy!
Most of my anxiety was washed away when we were submerged into the birth world. I knew Everette was happy with daddy and that daddy was holding it down! It was amazing to do something for myself and still get to see my best guys in between!
The entire training was amazing. There were a few moments I liked the most. Kathy, a trained therapist who specializes in traumatic birth, spoke often about women who have experienced trauma and how that affects them in birth. Even though it was heartbreaking to imagine some of the scenarios I was so thankful for her expertise on the subject. Hearing her perspective opened my eyes to ways I could help women who’ve experienced less than ideal circumstances. I loved Ngozi especially. Any time she spoke was just about my favorite time! She spoke about cultural humility and serving women who are different from us. This was a beautiful conversation within the group and another eye opener for me. I could literally feel myself growing! On day one Kathy passed our pieces of paper with another doula-in-training’s name on it. She encouraged us to watch them and listen to them and on day 3 we wrote a handwritten note to our person. It was a secret. You didn’t know who was watching you. I loved writing a letter to a special doula mama and I loved even more receiving mine. The woman who wrote to me is so knowledgeable and so strong. A true survivor, fighter, and champion for women. Her words were so profound! Lastly, maybe my most favorite part of the training was when Kathy modeled her “mothering” comfort measure routine. She had one of our doulas in training act as the laboring mother. She sat on a ball facing her partner. She bounced and moaned through a fake “contraction” while her partner supported her through it. Kathy sat behind the mother in a chair. When the contraction ended Kathy took the mother against her chest. She held her body against her and held her head with the palm of her hand. She held her in the dark dim room while Canon in D played softly in the background. We all watched in amazement. It was truly a moment. The woman who was acting at the laboring mama was actually pregnant which made it all so real.
My son wasn’t feeling well a few days ago and I found myself holding him in the mothering position. Not because I learned it from the training but because that’s how he felt comforted. Wow. It was so profound to me!
I feel empowered by my training experience. I know now that I can do this. I have the power to empower other mamas annnnnnd my son will have our village surrounding him while I’m gone at a birth.
My number one take away from this experience is that as a doula I am to support and serve ALL women during their birth. It 100% is not about me. It’s not about my pregnancy, my birth story, my labor, or my baby. Not everyone will have a supportive husband/partner/family. Not everyone will want a drug free birth. Some women will want to birth at home, a center, or a hospital. I want to support a laboring mama in the way she wants and needs to be supported. I can’t wait for the honor and privilege of attending my first birth!