So I hinted to some pretty big news on social media last week... and now I can finally share what it was all about! But first you're going to get the really long backstory. Ever since I started down the doula path, I've found myself so incredibly inspired by the women (and few men!) around me. I used to think the idea of a doula was hokey and just a fad. I thought doulas were only for the crunchy moms who wouldn't touch an epidural with a ten foot pole. I had all of the ideas and images conjured up in my mind about doulas in general, but the truth of the matter was I really had no idea at all.
When I was pregnant with Linden, I remember my OB asking me what my "birth plan" was. My answer? "Epidural." I was so sure of myself. I was terrified at what labor and delivery meant. I didn't want to see the videos, I didn't want to see the pictures, and most of all, I really didn't want to see ME, down there, as it happened! I just made myself admit there was a baby inside of me and he had to come out some way or another. Whatever way that was, I was just along for the ride. Seriously y'all, if you had the faintest idea at how mainstream, anti-crunchy, willfully ignorant (and I'm not using those as synonyms, I promise) I was, you'd think this whole thing is absolutely ridiculous. I felt like the anti-doula-client, you know what I mean? The funny thing about that is I would have made a wonderful doula client. C-section, Epidural, Natural, Water, Hospital, Home births. That is what doulas do. Doulas give every single type of client the very same compassionate, non-judgmental support.
The true reason I felt the desire to pursue doula work was my realization at how much I could have really used that very same consistent, non-judgmental support. I struggled so hard after Linden was born. So hard. I cry every time I think about how "rough" I felt we had it. I know every journey is different, but I really started to feel somewhat "cheated" by my postpartum experience, and that was such a heavy, unnecessary burden to bear. The truth is that I had a wonderful support network around me after Linden was born, but they all had such personal attachments to our situation. What I needed was someone who would be able to give me non-biased, evidence based information. Someone who could help talk me through things, and navigate postpartum. I needed someone who would just keep their dadgum opinion to themselves! Every part of my support team had an opinion about everything. Breast vs. bottle. Co-sleeping vs. crib. Baby wearing vs. Being more "hands off". Attachment soothing vs. Cry-It-Out. I just needed someone who could keep their friggin mouth shut. Haha Maybe that sounds harsh or weird, but I'm betting several of you can agree with me there.
That's right when I recognized that I could have benefitted from a doula, and I was heartbroken that I had scoffed the idea of something that could have possibly changed our story. After that I started to realize just how many mothers I knew personally who could have benefitted from the exact same support. I felt the desire to educate other expectant parents on the choices and support out there. Enter: the local doula community and ProDoula.
I first joined a few doula groups on Facebook just to see what it was all about. After a while I started to recognize familiar names and faces. Over a short while I became so invested in their success - regardless of whether they lived in the next town over or in Alaska. I started to see how supportive they were of one another. It was really inspiring to be able to cheer people on not only in their doula wins, but their personal victories as well. Something I started to realize they all had in common was ProDoula. ProDoula is a certifying organization, and when I learned about their business model, I knew it was the right choice for me. I loved their belief that someone can do something they love while earning a living to help support their family. Their mission to help elevate the roles of doulas really makes me think highly of them, too. A doula should always practice within scope, respect the care providers around them, and focus on serving the family in the best way they know how. It sounded like exactly the kind of doula I would have wanted, and the kind of doula I would want to be. Anyway, after learning more I vowed to get to a workshop and see for myself. At worst, I'm out a few hundred bucks and an afternoon or two. But at best (and spoiler alert: this is totally what happened), I find something I can be so passionate about; helping others in their most life-changing time, all the while helping myself "heal" from my own experience.
All of this happened through the early Summer, but when it came time for the labor training in Nashville, I dragged my feet. I made excuses, said I'd "try", but then just brushed it off. Workshop time came around and "stuff came up" so I never registered. I knew right after that I had made the wrong decision. It was almost instantaneous. While I couldn't go back in time and take the workshop, I started reading more about postpartum doula work. I loved the idea of supporting my clients at home, in their own environment, where I would be able to see them most comfortable. And luckily enough, a postpartum workshop was coming up in town. During this time I really started to love posts from a local doula named Ashley. They were also so positive and passionate. She had mentioned she was starting a doula agency in Nashville, and I was inspired by her confidence and loved when she'd update us on the journey. I made a joke one time on one of our groups that I wanted to work for her agency because her enthusiasm was so contagious, and then that thought stuck in my head. Ashley was the liaison for the postpartum workshop in town, so I was able to train right alongside her (and a half dozen other incredible women). During the 10 hour workshop I grew to really feel connected to the birth community in Nashville. I started to see how much we all had in common, but also how different we were. It was such an interesting group of women there that day.
Once I left the workshop and headed out on my 1.5 hour drive home, I felt so empowered and so READY! I remember calling my mom and telling her just how affirming it was, crying at the same time. One hour into the workshop earlier that day and I had already texted Mike "This is it. This is TOTALLY it." I felt so emotionally connected to what I was training to do. It was weird and rewarding and awesome and kind of awkward at the same time haha I told myself on the drive home that I was going to contact Ashley about applying for a contract position at her agency, Music City Doulas. While the deadline for applications had passed, I was working to get my ducks in a row so I could submit one anyway. I was motivated regardless, and even if I had to wait until the next round of applications, I knew I would get started on my own path. I was just so stoked to find something I could really give myself to. Then something really rad happened. Ashley's MCD partner, Arielle, messaged me and asked if I might be interested in working with them. WHAT! I totally did a dorky happy dance, y'all. It felt right! Like chocolate biscuits and gravy (Its a southern thing. Try it, seriously!), it just worked.
So boom! There you go. Last Monday I signed a contract with Music City Doulas! I'm so totally inspired by the other 5 women at the agency. We are a full-service doula agency in Nashville, offering labor doulas, postpartum doulas, and placenta encapsulation (just to name a few!). And for the first time in my adult life, I'll be working for someone, instead of trying to do it all myself. While I plan to scale back on my freelance offerings, I'm doing it because I finally found something that can fulfill me both in passion and in financial stability. And I can do it outside of my house! Good gracious sometimes I feel like a prisoner when I don't get out of that place all day haha So this is big for us. It's going to take a lot of adjustments from every member of our little family. It's been a big few months for us in terms of jobs and changing roles. I know we can do it, because we've already done all of this! Not to mention I've gone from the doula-skeptic, audibly-scoffing naysayer, to devoting so much time, money, attention, passion to the industry. I'm really really stoked to see where this takes me. And if we're talking literally, it will be taking me to Atlanta later this weekend! So if you're around town, give me a shout!