Warm up intro:
- I am a birth and postpartum doula
- I don't sing karaoke but I will bust out in the car
- I am unapologetic about the amount of coffee I consume
- I prefer my books to be arranged by color (much to the dismay of my husband)
1. How did you become a doula?
It wasn't a direct route, that's for sure!
A family I babysat for in my formative years (13-17 years old), let me be present for the birth of their second child. It was amazing. I truly believe that was a moment where the seed for working with women and birth was planted.
After having my daughter, I became interested in learning more about doulas. I kept hearing story after story of women who could have benefited from their support. I looked into what it would mean to become a doula, and then dropped it. I had a (fantastic) full time job as the community relations manager for my local Barnes & Noble, and my husband was at home with our daughter. We were golden. Until, that arrangement no longer worked. So I stayed home and started being around more women with babies.
From them I've learned early on that a birth story is an incredible thing. With each baby, you only get one shot. There are no do-overs.
For many women they are surprised by birth, and surprised by the feelings they have, or don't have, and they can feel misled. They can feel confused about how they had gone so long and not known The Things.
The Things like:
- basic anatomy of their body
- the reality that morning sickness isn't just in the morning for some women
- understanding that breastfeeding isn't something that is easy or comes "naturally," and that THAT is normal
I could become a doula.
So I did. *psssst, you can too.
And this isn't about saving women. My intent going into this profession was to help one woman at a time take ownership of her birth experience.
It has been incredible every time.
My favorite part of being a doula is watching a woman come into her own!
It is unlike any other moment in life. There are parts of each of us that will only be unlocked when facing something incredibly difficult. For many women, childbirth may be the first time they are tapping into that. To be able to be present and witness a woman empowering herself to achieve a goal - be it birth, breastfeeding, or following a dream - helps me remain in tune with my own goals and dreams, and I become impassioned again and again with this profession.
Ha! Whatever I can find!
If the world is spinning in my favor I will have the opportunity to stop at Jim's Original Hot Dog, just off 90/94. Open 24 hours a day. One of the first places Mr. Swift Doula took me when we were dating (because it is a gem in the city) and still a favorite. If you are driving around at 2am-4am, it is still busy with taxi drivers getting some food.
Second love is a donut. *drool* Chicago has a great selection. So far my favorite is Do-Rite.
Should Jim's and Do-Rite be unavailable, I'll take a cup of coffee for the drive home. Soy latte please, or white chocolate mocha with just a 1/2 pump of syrup. Yummm.
When I'm not with clients, I spend quite a bit of time mentoring new doulas and taking care of my volunteer responsibilities. But when I'm not doing those things, I like to run, sew, bake, and read. With the exception of running, all of these activities usually involve drinking a fair amount of coffee.
If you've read my blog before now, you may already know that I used to drive a tour bus in Alaska. That usually gets some weird looks when I meet new people. I have also worked at horse clinic in Eastern Washington right after high school and learned, among other things, the meaning of the phrase "don't look a gift horse in the mouth."
A vivid memory of an experience was when I was used as the prop while a horse's teeth were being floated (the term used to grind down their teeth if they don't get enough at pasture). Picture it: I am standing with a slightly groggy horse's head resting on my shoulder, while one hand is holding it's tongue out of the way and the other is twisting the twitch (a device that releases pleasure hormones by squeezing a horse's upper lip). All while the veterinarian is using a gigantic file on its teeth. I loved it!
I also was a competitor in barista competitions. In 2007 I made it to the US Barista Championships, I didn't come anywhere close to placing, but an experience I was so thankful to have!
And the last random fact - I've driven 5,700 miles with my cats in the car. Camping part of the time. But that's another blog...
Authored by A Swift Doula
Images are the property of Ariel Swift.