#TBT to 2012: My "Why" for Doula Work

Through that surgery and the life-threatening complications that followed, I learned what truly nonjudgmental support can do for healing.

Today marks the start of World Doula Week, where we focus on the work doulas do to improve the social, emotional, physiological and psychological wellbeing of whole families. From pregnancy, to birth and then to the postpartum period, doulas take care of their clients. For most doulas, it feels like a calling or a passion that sparks a career. It takes a heart of service and usually a story about why we decided to become a doula. My story started one way and had a pretty big plot twist.

I became a doula in 2010 because I loved studying everything about pregnancy, birth and babies in college. My “why” was a passion for everything I was learning about birth and babies in my undergrad internship at a birth center in Denton and a natural ability to support others. I was the person who my friends and family came to for advice about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding and it felt like a natural career choice.

Here comes the real #TBT though…back to 2012. I had been a doula for 2 years and was working as a newborn nanny. I had a car accident and herniated two discs in my back worse than I knew. After a night in the ER for pain and subsequently losing the feeling in my legs and ability to walk altogether, I was admitted to the hospital. For 5 days, I laid in a hospital bed not knowing if I would walk again or if the pain in my back would ever go away. My mom and roommate (turned rock star postpartum doula), Samantha were there with me when the spine surgeon came in to tell us a 360 2-level spinal fusion was my option to regain function in my legs.

Through that surgery and the life-threatening complications that followed, I learned what truly nonjudgmental support can do for healing. For 37 days in the hospital, my mom, my friends and my nurses and doctors safeguarded my dignity, listened to my fears, reassured me and respected my wishes. They trusted me to make the best decisions for myself. Shoutout to all of the nurses on the med-surg unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Flower Mound. I had nurses lift me into wheelchairs and hold me on toilets and in showers, so I didn’t have to use a bed pan and could bathe myself. I had a certified nursing assistant French braid my hair because it had been a knotted mess for days. My mom listened and got me every snack I wanted when I cried and cursed in pain and frustration. She held my hair when I got sick and patted my leg when neither of us had the words to describe how scared we were. She put on a gown and mask to be there while they placed a picc line in ICU, never leaving my side. Samantha held my hand all night, so I could sleep through the hallucinations from my pain pump and helped me laugh again…and again. My surgeons fixed my spine and then went on to save my life. They answered every question, gave me a realistic idea of my new normal and had my back, literally and figuratively. 

I went into doula work because I loved birth and babies, but I’m still in doula work because I now know the difference nonjudgmental support can make. I remember how I was treated through one of the most intense experiences of my life and I want to give that same level of care to each of my clients. When you’re at your most vulnerable, you deserve the very best support and that’s my “why” as a doula. 

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New Parents, You Are So Brave

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You struggled to get pregnant or stay pregnant. 

You were surprised by a pregnancy. 

You weathered pregnancy complications that were painful and scary. 

You breathed through one more contraction when you thought you couldn’t do it anymore.

You pushed one more time when you were absolutely exhausted and your baby was born.

You laid down in a cold operating room and endured major surgery to bring your baby into the world.

You joined the millions of parents who came before you.

You watched as your partner coped with pain you had never seen before and you trusted her instincts.

You asked for help when you just wanted to be able to do it by yourself.

You fed your baby from your body.

You gave your baby formula when it wasn’t your plan, so she would grow.

You pressed on when you lost everything in your birth plan.

You took beautiful care of your new baby through exhaustion and frustration.

You set boundaries for your new family and limited visitors when you needed to.

You knew your limits and you made hard choices.

You went back to work when you just wanted to stay home with your baby a little longer.

Every day in big and little ways, you are brave for your family and it’s an honor to get to witness that as your doula. On days where it feels like you can’t possibly keep at it or things aren’t going the way you imagined, reframe your thinking and own the ways you have been brave.

 

 

My Daughter's First Birthday

Today my daughter turns one and leaves infancy behind to embrace everything toddler. She is walking, calling me “Momma”, throwing tiny tantrums and letting us know what her opinions are. I love watching her learn new things every day and become a tiny person with her own personality, but today I am happy and a little sad too. I feel like I blinked and my squishy newborn became a toddling little girl with a toothy grin and a purpose.

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Physical Therapy and Pregnancy: Part 1 Diastasis Recti

Pregnancy affects your entire body in pretty big ways, so it’s not surprising that after the baby is born you might experience pain, weakness or a new condition. Diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, symphysis pubis dysfunction or sacroiliac joint pain are all common conditions that can come on during or after pregnancy. The focus of physical therapy is on strengthening the muscles around the source of pain, functional exercises to teach you ways to care for yourself and your baby to avoid injury and therapies for pain after pregnancy.

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Bringing Home Baby: Postpartum Doulas

You are now at home with your new baby who you just want to gaze at and soak in every moment. Then reality sets in. How are you supposed to rest and recover from birth? When will you have time to cook? You’re supposed to be taking it easy, but so much needs to be done. Do tidy houses even exist with newborns? What about caring for the rest of the family? Unpacking the hospital bags looks so daunting.

 

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Your doula is trained to listen to your feelings, plans and wishes and help you to facilitate your best birth and postpartum experience. This looks different for each family and no matter your choices, your doula will be with you every step of the way. Her ability to nurture you, while you nurture your growing family is unmatched. 

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