The word “new” often evokes images of the latest cell phones or shiny cars. It might evoke images of new clothes, or maybe the first day of school or a new job. The word “new” imbues the feeling of enthusiasm and excitement! Bright, shiny determination.
But there is a different kind of new. There is the newness that comes with parenthood. I remember a time when I sat on the edge of the bed, a tiny newborn in my arms. I hadn’t slept more than 90 minutes at a stretch for a week or more. I’d showered…sometime? My body ached in ways I didn’t previously know possible and this tiny human that was now my responsibility was crying inconsolably. There was nothing shiny or determined about the way I felt. The newness of it all was a raw edge. I was a “new” parent and many other less-than-new parents let me know that. I doubted myself and the decisions I made, worried they weren’t the “right” one. The “oh, honey” looks, and avalanche of unasked for advice were overwhelming. Parenting advice from all over the spectrum left me confused and growing that self-doubt, no matter how well-meaning or helpful (or true).
In that maelstrom of changing hormones, heavy emotions, and feeling lost, there was a bright spot of clarity. My dear sister-in-law, a seasoned labor & delivery nurse, would let me ask a thousand questions and she would give me clear-cut informational answers with pros and cons, or ask, “What do you feel like you want to do?” I would tell her, and she would respond, “That seems very reasonable. Do that.” I remember replying, “But is it right, is it okay?” Her response would shape a lot of my parenting for many years to come. “It doesn’t matter. There is no right or wrong here. Some will agree with you, and some won’t. Their approval doesn’t matter. My approval doesn’t matter. This is not my baby – this is your baby.”
This is at the heart of being a doula. The unbiased, compassionate information given by someone who is on nobody’s side but yours. Someone whose only agenda is to see you succeed in the way you want to succeed. She may not have known it, but the seed of becoming a doula was planted in those conversations, and it lodged itself somewhere in my psyche.
Listening, giving resources and advice when asked, lending an actual, physical hand with your newborn in your own home, validating complicated emotions and concerns — that is what healthy support can look like. I hadn’t realized for many years there was already a framework for exactly this kind of support. This was exactly what I wanted to do.
It rang like a bell in me when I discovered professional postpartum doulas and I was instantly drawn to it. Postpartum doulas offer clear-cut informational answers to questions, help with keeping the household running, allow new parents to SLEEP, and above all, they offer compassionate care based on what you need and want. This was the type of support I wanted all those years ago. This was the kind of support I wanted to give other women. I researched different doula certifications, and when the timing was right, I jumped at the chance to train with top-tier educators and certification.
I am so thrilled I did.
I am a Doula, excited to support. Bright. Shiny. Full of determination.