Yesterday, I shared that before becoming a doula, I had a wonderful, stable job working for Barnes & Noble. I had insurance! I had vacation days! I had access to interesting people with interesting things to say and I was helping my community through literacy! It was (how many more exclamation points do you need.....) ah-mazing!!!
And I made the choice to leave it.
I then made the choice to become a doula. A year and a half after starting my career as a doula, I became a ProDoula.
When I was introduced to ProDoula through a woman named Randy Patterson, a few things happened:
- I stopped feeling guilty for needing to make a living
- I realized my attraction to this work was not just as a woman doing women's work, but it was a deep seeded need in me to be WITH women.
And Randy Patterson and the other women I have been doing this work WITH, crawled in that deep dark space with me while sitting on Debbie Aglietti's basement floor. And they showed me what it was like to really be with Women's Women. Women who love other women. Women who want big, inspiring things. Women who understand that we will all do those big inspiring things in our own creative ways.
I was a good doula before I became a ProDoula. I knew all the right questions, I pushed on all the rights spots, I had the right information. But after ProDoula, I finally really understood the need, and power of women showing empathy.
Real support. Non-judgmental support. Being in the dark cave, together.
And as I unlocked all of the pain, guilt, and disappointment, I started to let other things go too. I started to let my "character flaws" out and stretch their sore limbs.
Turns out, what I thought was flippancy was the ability to adapt. Turns out what I thought was being bossy, was in fact my ability to be a decisive doer.
I came back from an amazing experience and I started to try out this new self, with all my feelings and memories and baggage out for any who took a minute to see it. And I started believing that my voice was powerful.
And I now with this found voice, I learned to be much better listener. I see and hear women trying to navigate through a world where pregnancy has made their own emotions a little closer to the top - those emotions are a little easier to access.
Those emotions and fears are valuable. They are valid. They are good.
I walk into a woman's living room, and her emotions get all over her face, and she feels bad. She feels wrong. And I get so sit with her, and look at her emotions on her face, and nose and hands and tissues, and be with her. And say that those emotions sound really hard and I am so glad she shared those really hard emotions with me.
It isn't a space many people are willing to go. My work lets me go there. I get to go there! I get to be a real women with other real women.
And this is only a small part of the work that I do.
But this is the invaluable part. This is the part that gets hard to explain in a fee.
I talk about my on-call schedule. I talk about being available on the phone. I talk about specific hours of time and things like how many times we will meet, because in our society, these are the things that can be measured and checked off a list. (And they are important too!)
But today, during World Doula Week, I wanted to talk a bit about what else the fee covers. Non-judgmental support. Being WITH you in labor. Having a person in the room who is comfortable with all the ugly baggage and still looks you in the face and says, hey I see you over there. Don't worry, I see you.
Authored by A Swift Doula