Becoming a Doula

The long story

Other titles for this post were “My Birth Stories” and “That Time I Ate a Whole Box of Halloween Candy”, but neither title really works to describe what the following story is really about. The following words best describe my personal journey toward becoming a Doula.

My career history is overflowing in experiences with young children and families. Like many of my peers, I grew up babysitting and accommodating the needs of unique family units. I took a year and a half off after high school to work and I stumbled across the Early Childhood Education program one day at my call centre desk and decided soon after to enroll in the two year program.

Fast forward two years and I was working as a registered ECE in an infant room in Kingston, Ontario. I LOVED my time in that room. That was also the year I met baby L. She was three months old when she started in our room. So young for an infant room in Canada, but both of L’s parents were University students and her older brother was already a child in our centre.

She was so tiny that I often carried her on my chest during outside times and two major things happened to me during my short time with her. One, I knew I was meant to be a mom. I know I said this before but she really solidified it —just ask my ovaries! The second thing she did was make me consider the struggle of motherhood. I couldn’t wrap my head around how hard her mom must have struggled with sending her to a centre and how difficult her daily life was between caring for two children, going to university, and pumping. Yet, as so many mothers do, she pushed through. I was in awe and as a mom of two, I still am!

Down the road I also worked as a nanny which was my closest trip to mom life before motherhood. Goodness, I love those kids to this day. But in the moment, I seriously wondered how I could love my own children even more than I loved them?!

… And then she had kids. *narrator voice activated*

That’s right. Now I get it. I get how fiercely you love them, what you’d do to protect them, and how much you are willing to go through or give up just to keep them happy and healthy.

M, my first, was born on Halloween day. The day after I binge ate all the Halloween candy in sight (totally worth it). The exact day we tried to avoid having a baby… of course. She was two days on the other side of her due date, and no labour came naturally after my water broke. I was introduced to Pitocin (synthetic Oxytocin) to kick start contractions and it did the trick! 3 hours of difficult contractions while I waited teary-eyed for an epidural.

Once the epidural took hold, I was in heaven. I was happy again, less stressed, and ready to have a baby. I felt just enough to push her into this world in about an hour. Her birth didn’t go without its complications. The OB noticed her heart rate drop on the fetal monitoring system and advised for getting out the vacuum tool. I asked for three more pushes and welcomed our girl into this world. She also had to see a pediatrician because she was born 18 hours and 5 minutes after my water broke which meant she required a second pediatrician visit. Other than that, she was a healthy, screaming baby. Loudest baby in Labour and Delivery if you ask my family.

N came into the world a whole lot later and faster. She was 9 days on the other side of her due date. At 41 weeks and 2 days I was induced with Cervidil and then had my water ruptured by the OB on call. From the point of having my water break to holding her was two hours. TWO HOURS!

I had two failed epidurals, three failed IV’s and so much anger. Not anger for giving birth naturally. I had anger for being in the hospital. If I had chosen a home birth I could have avoided hearing the other mama’s screams that made me ask for the epidural, all of the failed pokes, and the added stress. Hindsight is sharp, my friends!

She was my calm baby at birth, which was probably a good thing because I was in shock. My body just did that! I was proud-meets-disbelief. I have my midwives and husband to thank for coaching me through it all. After some cuddle time, we all got to go home… not even four hours later.

Although both of our girls came into this world in hospital settings, both events were quite different. Prenatal care with M was with an OB at a busy Toronto hospital and ended with an OB on call (and her team of residents) delivering her. While N was delivered at a smaller hospital outside the city. My prenatal care with her was a team of midwives and I can safely say that if I was to do it again, I would choose a midwife. They were amazing at making sure I was well informed and never rushed.

With both of my experiences, where I really felt unequipped was in the postnatal phase. With our first, I went out and got active far too soon. I walked to and from a mom group once a week and around the neighborhood more. I didn’t realize that my body needed to heal. I mean really heal. With our second, I didn’t nourish my body, I didn’t ask for enough help and on top of it all, I went on a long walk a few weeks in and threw my back out (and still didn’t ask for help!!). Again, I didn’t honour the healing process. Throughout both postpartum experiences, I didn’t focus on my own nutrition beyond feeding my hunger anything and everything in my path. I lacked serious postpartum nutrition know-how.

Originally my lack of birth and postpartum knowledge had me look into becoming a birth worker. I came across an ad for Doula Training Canada and while researching their Labour and Birth Doula program, out jumped the words “Postpartum Doula”. That was my “Ah-Ha” moment.

I started talking about this program non-stop. When DTC ran their scholarship program – this mama applied right away. While I waited to hear back I continued to talk to anyone about it who would listen. And you know what? Most people I told responded with love, support, and so much excitement for me. My stars were aligning and once I was approved and registered —My path was lit. Hello Doulahood!

Thanks for reading ❤

Feature image courtesy of Kendra Deen

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