My co-workers at the time had opinions about the best morning sickness cures, the best books to read (which was a long list when working at a bookstore!), and scrolls of things to stay away from. As my stomach grew and it became more likely I was pregnant, I could feel the watchful eyes of strangers judging my food orders when out, and my shopping cart at the grocery store. "What you should really be doing is prenatal yoga," said a complete stranger.
It has been made clear that I am responsible for a separate human. I feel it, with each choice to comfort her when she falls or encourage her to brush herself off and keep going. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be a parent. And even though millions of people have gone through this process millions of times over, it still feels like my experience is the first time this battle has been waged. My choices are just as difficult as the ones made last generation, and in the generations before. BECAUSE THEY ARE!
I am now a birth doula. I moved from a mid-sized town to Chicago. I was one of maybe 15 doulas, and now I am one of hundereds. I am learning where I fit, how to add to this community of birth workers, and growing in my community. Just as everyone has had an opinion about how I should raise my daughter, there are thoughts on how I should be a doula. In those first cold months of announcing my business arrival in the city (I don't recommend moving in January...to Chicago. Oy.) I started feeling all the same anxieties that came with being a new mother. How was I going to compete with all of these other established women?! How was I going to find clients that could see past my recent arrival to how well I fit with them?
And you know what? About two months into living here the answer found me.
There is room for us all.
"We actively decided that we would not compete with each other, but would be allies instead. We decided to be examples of a different way through. That instead of feeling threatened by each other, we would choose to support + celebrate each others’ work. In a world where we are all vulnerable to the comparison game, the not-enough game, the there’s-no-room-for-me game, this felt like such a sweet victory." --Andrea Scher
And I'm sitting here with my fists pumping in the air thinking, "Yes! Yes! We are all capable of wonderful beautiful things!"
And this isn't just business folk. This is for moms. This is for dads. This is for families. This is for communities. But for me, right now, in this new life in this new city, this has allowed me PERMISSION to open up my gates and expect the great things that only I can contribute to this space. This place. This life. She also says in the article:
We each took turns describing what our courses were like and we started to see what I sincerely hoped was true — that we each had our own unique voice. That our approaches were different. That there was no way anyone else’s course could be like mine, because I am the one writing it!
I also remembered that I have my people and they have theirs. And that our people wanted us. They wanted our voice, not somebody else’s. --Andrea Scher
Are you trying to have ownership and power in labor? Are you trying to organize you life? Are you trying to not just dream the dream, but live the dream? Are you a doula too? There is room for us all to find our way in this. Whatever this is.
You don't have to parent like your mom did. You don't have to discipline like your neighbor. You don't have to compete with your best friends, or have your children compete. There is room for us all here.