"A doula? A whatah?"
This is the typical response that I get when people ask what I do so I figured I would begin by explaining what doulas do and who we are. Doulas assist pregnant women and their families through pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond into parenthood. Being a doula allows me to use my unique gifts and talents to help educate families on their journey. Just as pregnancy and parenthood is a windy curvy path so has the journey been for me becoming a doula. My path to being a doula was anything but a straight line, but I am so grateful for the twists and turns because it shaped who I am today! I learned many things on my journey that has made me very grateful and humbled.
Let’s start from the beginning. Back in high school I really was fascinated by psychology. I thought it was so interesting learning about why humans do the things they do. I have always been fascinated by people’s stories and hearing about their journeys. My psychologist dreams were quickly dashed as I was told that quote, “they don’t make ANY money. All the schooling it takes to become a psychologist will cost way too much and it’s not worth it.” Those words crushed me so much I decided to let that dream go.
Like a lot of young kids do, they feel as though they just have to know what they want to do and what they want to be when they grow up. Through my whole life I watched so many of my peers have such clear visions, dreams, goals, and plans for what they wanted to do with their lives. They knew exactly where they wanted to go to college and what they wanted to study. I felt so much pressure that I had to choose something. Anything. But it had to be NOW. At the time I was in highschool there was a HUGE need for nurses. I thought well it seems like that would be a good fit maybe, and I have to pick SOMETHING so I’ll just go to school for that. I started at Century College my senior year of highschool taking a few college courses and immediately loved the freedom I had. One of the prerequisites to get into the nursing program at Century was to become a nursing assistant. You needed to have X amount of hours working as an nursing aide before you were able to apply to the program. I immediately signed up to take the course to become a certified nursing assistant. From there I worked as an aide pretty much full time at a nursing home in White Bear Lake. I didn’t love the work at first, but I came to realize over the first year or so how much my work meant to the families of the residents I cared for. Overtime I fell in love with the work I did. Although the work was not easy and backbreaking at times, I truly loved the people I cared for. My eyes were opened to what my future as a nurse might look like as I worked closely with nurses. I had a change of heart and knew that becoming a nurse just wasn’t in the cards for me.
There were some profound life changing events that also shaped my decision to not pursue nursing school from when I was 18 to about 21. My dad had been sober for around 15 years from alcohol and drugs. I feel as though one day I woke up and all of a sudden he turned into someone I couldn’t even recognize. He started using drugs and drinking and my relationship with him crumbled. So much so, that I didn’t talk to him for about 4 years. This was heartbreaking for me. I was a daddy’s girl. He was my hero. To see him fall from this pedestal I had placed him on crushed me. I was so sad and angry and upset that he would do this to me, my sisters and my family. I had to work through this pain. I actually had to go through counseling to overcome this pain. I learned that we are all human. Even my dad. I ended up channeling this pain and sadness into wanting to help others. Others who were hurting. I decided that I wanted to become a Chemical Dependency Counselor. I wasted no time and started taking courses. I absolutely loved everything I was learning! It fascinated me. The requirements to become a counselor were very demanding. They needed me to do 800 hours of an unpaid internship. I couldn’t afford to do this. I had bills to pay! I felt defeated. I felt so behind EVERYONE else. I felt as though all my peers had graduated from college by now and everyone had started “living their lives.” It took me 5 years just to get my Associates Degree. I should probably just graduate with SOMETHING. ANYTHING.
I decided to apply to Metro State University and enlisted into their Human Services program. I had most of the courses completed to graduate within a year and a half after enrolling. At this same time I felt as though it was time for me to move on from my nursing assistant job. I had some connections at a fortune 500 company and quickly found myself working there as a contingent worker. I was pumped to start working in such a prestigious business setting and couldn’t wait to trade in my scrubs for business casual!
I graduated in the spring of 2014 with my Bachelors Degree from Metro State and was elated to finally have that piece of paper. The paper that embodied all the hard work I had put in and the journey it took me to get there! This piece of paper also meant I could apply for a full time position at my company and was hired on just a few months after graduation. My role, more or less was in customer service. I worked HARD. Very hard. I was proud of my work ethic. I held very high standards for myself. This wore on me over time. My work drained me. Customer Service is HARD WORK! I totally have a different level of respect for the people on the other end of the line when I call somewhere for customer service. It takes special people to do that kind of work. I learned SO much from working there. I learned so much about me as an individual and learned from my peers on the kind of person I wanted to be. I began to question my purpose for life. What were my next steps going to be in my career? Climb the corporate ladder? NO! I began to feverishly search for my life’s purpose. I wanted OUT of Corporate America and FAST.
My passion to care for others especially women lead my search. I started to what I think was random, looking into midwifery programs. I really don’t even know how I ended up there. I read through what it would entail to become a midwife and came to the conclusion that it was a WHOLE lot of responsibility that I didn’t want to have on my shoulders. During my research I also read about doulas. I was immediately intrigued. I thought to myself this. This is what I want to do. This is who I am. I felt and still feel as though being invited into a laboring womans space is such an honor to be a part of. It is a second nature to me to be able to read others and anticipate what they might need. I think this nurturing side comes from me wanting to be a mom since I can’t even remember. Caring for others is just who I am. So, with fire in my belly and my goals set high I set a plan and started feverishly reading and watching all things birth. I also started in on all the administrative tasks you need to start a business with a goal of leaving my job by the end of year 2016. People thought I was nuts! Why would you ever leave a good paying job with great benefits? My answer to that is that you are given this one life - you better make the most of it. I also understand that not all of us can just up and quit our jobs so I give a lot of praise and thanks to my wonderful husband because without him by my side it wouldn’t have gone down the way it did!
Within a few months I had started a business and registered with the State. I was now the proud owner of Womb Service MN. I attended a birth DONA (certifying agency) training in February of this year (2016) and then my postpartum training with ProDoula (certifying agency) and got my placenta encapsulation specialist certificate all in one year!
After taking my birth doula training I wanted to be out and working with my newly uncovered skills. Around April of this year I hit a wall at my corporate position. In all honestly I felt depressed. All I could do was wake up, go to work, be at work, miserably, which showed. I was not a happy person. Everyone around me could feel that I didn’t want to be there. I tried really hard to work on myself but nothing I tried was going to make me happy in that position. To be blunt I hated the person I was becoming. The stress of it all came crashing down one day in March and I cracked. I had a panic attack and knew I needed out. My husband came home that day and told me that he would do whatever it took to support us but seeing me like this was not worth any amount of money. He urged me to put my notice in. I had worked so hard my whole life and had never been without a job. Let alone leave a well paying job without anything lined up! That was crazy. You just don’t do that! And you don’t leave a fortune 500 company! People would KILL to have my spot, and I’m just going to walk away? Yep! Let me tell you, I felt like a gazillion pounds had been lifted from me.
My last day was at the end of April 2016. I am forever grateful for the opportunity and the knowledge that I gained from my position. The knowledge I gained from being there has been instrumental in helping me run my own business. Since leaving I have worked very hard to pursue my dreams and ambitions. I love what I do as a birth and postpartum doula. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Being invited into one of the most sacred times and spaces in a family's life is something that I don’t take lightly. I believe deep in my heart that the work I do makes a difference in peoples lives that I want to be able to give them the best of the best and that is why I decided to leave my solo business (Womb Service) and collaborate with one of the best women I have ever met (Megan) to form Blue Lotus. I am so excited for the journey ahead that Megan and I are about to embark on. Together as a team I believe we will make an even greater impact on the families lives we serve. I have a passion to help families find their own unique voices as I have found mine. I’m so excited to help them on their journeys as parents. I cannot wait to look back on the journey that lies ahead and be so proud of the work we have done and have already done!