I never new anxiety until I became a doula. Once you get into those last few weeks of pregnancy you are constantly thinking about if your client goes into labor. Where will you be? Will you be close enough to assist? Will you hear the phone if you sleep too heavily? Will you have your doula bag with you? The list goes on & on. And since this was technically not my first experience, I was even more anxious. What happened with the first one? She had her baby in the car on the way to the hospital. The King (baby) had his own plans. I count this one as my first because I actually assisted with it.
How I Attracted My First Doula Client
My first experience as a doula was amazing. I am currently a volunteer doula in the city of Philadelphia.I recently completed my classes with Your Best Birth out of New Jersey. Once I finished my class, my next step was to find someone who was willing to work a doula with no experience. However, I believe and teach the power of the cosmos and the law of attraction.I teach that if you believe that you are who you say you are that the universe always agrees with you and will respond accordingly. I have known for the past 5 years that I am here to help women heal. I heard it whispered in my ears one night while falling asleep. "Your mission was always to protect women" is what I heard. Claire-Audience is what this is called. It's the ability to hear vocal messages from within. Once I heard that, it confirmed my calling. I attracted my client because I am firm in my IAM. Confidence is key in regards to the law of attraction. I won't lie though. Of course I still deal with doubt sometimes. But I use my Numerology Guidance Cards to help me. The first day of my doula training I pulled the cards out and I asked, "Why am I taking this class?" The card was "Spiritual Career". It doesn't get any clearer than that. So KNOWING what I am here to do is what attracted my client to me. But where does knowing come from? That you will have to WORK on.
The manifestation came very quickly too. The day I made a post on Facebook announcing that I will be volunteering as a doula in Philadelphia is the same day I met India Harvey. I was ubering and I saw that she was pregnant as she got in the car. If you are a new doula I would imagine that you can understand the excitement you feel just about every time you see a pregnant woman. In fact, you probably start looking for them.
When I saw her, my heart said " Wow! Here's a chance! Take it!" But before I got ahead of myself I payed attention to her conversation. She was speaking with her daughter about eating healthy.
I thought to myself, " O yes! If she is into health, there is a high chance she may want a doula". So I kept my cool and waited until she got out of the car.
On her way out I said, "I noticed you're pregnant. I am not sure if you know what a doula is but I just finished my classes and I am currently looking to volunteer. I will be your doula for free. Just call me."
As I handed her my card, her face looked delighted. She accepted my offer right on the spot. She emailed me immediately.
Once we spoke, I found out that she had recently told her partner that she wanted a doula. She had one with her son and she said she had a pleasant experience. She also said she knows what it's like to try to get experience in this type of field and that she would be happy to help me. The universe was completely showing off by attracting us to each other. India is very self aware and expressed knowledge of the cosmos and knowledge of self. Perfect! When we met, I noticed she talked about veganism a lot and I also made note of her "Eye of Ra" earrings. No one can tell me that this was not a match made in heaven. She has a similar vibration and mindset that I actually teach regarding my Self Realization course. This experience was meant to be.
The First On Call Experience
Let's fast forward to the actual birthing experience. I was super nervous as we got closer to "the last days". During her final days of pregnancy I began to read the highlighted parts of The Birth Partner, by Penny Simpkins again. This book is a required read for anyone who goes through D.O.N.A training. I needed to remember everything I could do to help comfort India, both mentally and physically.
Then I finally got a text. She said "I think I'm in need of labor assistance.". I called her. She said she was using the app that I suggested she use to time her contractions and they were 5 minutes apart. She also said they were uncomfortable, but not intolerable. I didn't want to miss the chance so we both agreed to go ahead to the hospital. I took a shower, grabbed my doula bag, birth ball and headed out the door. I was praying on my way there that I would have total recall and that my natural instincts would kick in to assist her. I kept reminding myself that this is my purpose, and that I would be directed from the cosmos within.
When I walked in the hospital room, India was very calm. She was speaking in a regular tone. We eventually found out she was about 3-4 centimeters but her contractions was not getting any stronger. At this point, it's about 4am. I am dead tired. We both agreed that I would head back home and she'll call me when things change.
The Real On Call Experience As A First Time Doula
Well, that call didn't come until about 5 days later. FIVE DAYS LATER! Can you imagine my anxiety level? My fiance and I were planning to do an event in New Brunswick that weekend. I told him I wasn't going because I didn't want to be too far from India. He understood. When I checked on her later she said the contractions had completely stopped! OMG! Ok! The event is back on and now I am here but I am still concerned. They had HORRIBLE cellular service in that building and I was nervous that she would call and wouldn't be able to get through. Ask me how many times I went outside just to make sure no voicemail was left?! Many times! Many! Needless to say she didn't go into labor that night. She texted me around 8:30am on April 2nd and let me know this is happening for real this time!
Contractions are 2 minutes apart and India is driving herself to the hospital! OMG! Yes, she's driving herself. We actually joked about it and I told her if she gets pulled over she'll have a legit excuse for running lights. Actually, I told her please do not run lights! I am nervous of course. I showered (very quickly), grabbed my stuff and was out the door. My thoughts were "how come no one told us how annoying this damn birth ball is? Do I REALLY need it? Do I have food for me? Do I have the paperwork? Do I have money for parking? Should I look for a parking spot? Hell nah! Just pay for parking! Ok....Breath Kimesha! Here I am breathing as if I am the one in labor.
A Doula Needs Octopus Hands
Now here is where the actual experience came in. As I sat back and replayed the entire event from start to finish I thought of all the things I COULD have or SHOULD have done. There were a few points where I froze in a state of helplessness. I would catch myself doing this and make myself snap out of it and would simply use my intuition to assist her.
When I first walked in I saw India bent leaning over on the bed trying to cope with contractions. She said she was hot. Boom! I have a fan! I can help with that. But she also needed help getting her clothes off and gown on. So I asked her partner to fan her so that I could help get her shoes off. Welp, the batteries ran out rather quickly. Ugh! I grabbed my ice pack and clean rag, wet it and wrapped it around the ice pack to help cool her down. I patted her neck, face and back of neck. I know that little things like hair can be very irritable and especially to a hot pregnant woman. So I used the bonnet to pull her hair up out of her face. I'm sure that was helpful as well, due to the fact that she threw up a few times. Who wants hair in their face while throwing up during labor? It's the little things.
It seems like the nurses were always tugging and pulling on her and wanting something from her. It was in this moment that I realized why some women prefer at home births. There were many moments where I felt like this woman cannot labor in peace because the nurses have to do their job too. I totally get it. Especially considering that black women maternal deaths are at an all time high.They want to keep the patient safe, but I can also see how this can interrupt any rhythm or ritual that doula and mom might have established. In this case, a doula has to learn to be very strategic in working around and with the nurses.
When they finally managed to measure her cervix they found that she was completely dilated! Wow! This is happening fast. She did most of her labor at home here she could move around freely. This made me realize that I wouldn't mind being with a laboring mom at home. I think I would have felt more calm myself. I say that because as a first time doula, I somewhat felt in the way. Everything I tried to do to assist, I usually had to stop or move at some point because the hospital staff had to do their job as well. I can see that being a doula takes some level of determination and balance to make sure that you are continuously helping your client and being helpful to the staff simultaneously.
I felt like I was so distracted and occupied with making sure that I stayed focus on India and her immediate needs that I still forgot some of her desires in her birth plan. I needed octopus hands to assist in the many ways that I expected to assist in my head. She needed ice, she needed a bucket to throw up, she needed pressure on her back, she needed to be cooled down and even warmed up. And even with about 5 people in the room I still felt like there were things missing that I knew was in her birth plan. There was not much changing positions because once the contractions were back to back she did not want to move to much. She simply wanted to breath through them.
Once we were in the birthing room, I did manage to take a minute to glance at her birth plan to remember. She wanted to hear the 432 hrtz while laboring. I managed to play that for her within her last hour of labor. Many of the things we had talked about I didn't do. I had stickers to go on the wall which was to remind her of love and faith. I never used them. She spent majority of the time with her eyes closed. I realized that these tools are good but knowing WHEN to use them are more important. I'll tell you what was good though. The back massaging tool. I am not really good at massage, so I used that for counter pressure on her back. She said it was very helpful.
I tried to remember to do things to help her release oxytocin like rub her back and her feet, encourage her, speak positively to her. But even within that, I still felt like I should have done more. There was one point where she could barely talk. She only said "I need something" and she patted on the bed. At the time I didn't realize or understand the impact that labor can have on the mind. I didn't realize that a laboring women may have a hard time verbally expressing herself and THAT is one of the main reasons a doula is necessary. A doula protects a laboring woman because she may not be able to speak! Wow! There is too much pain to talk. Even as I type this, I can still here her saying " I need something" and my heart feels empathetic. I should have have hugged her. I felt like she just wanted to be comforted but I wasn't sure how. This is where a doula's experience and intuition would very likely kick in. We have to be able to read cues and nonverbal signs from the mother. This makes perfect sense though because this is what I teach in the Self Realization course.
My Overall Synopsis Of Being A Doula For The First Time
I remember India's waist beads. She said her other daughter made them for her belly. I later realized that it was also a request from Ase' (the baby). The word bead or bede actually comes from the phrase "prayer bead". So it was also an adornment or jewelry for the coming of Ase'. I see it as somewhat of a crowning ceremony and ritual that the baby wanted to experience while being birthed. For the first time, I was able to analyze a physical birth from an esoteric perspective as well as a physical experience. I was also able to see a good part of the transitioning from one phase to another. I've seen many labors in my life. I have 3 sisters and I also am a mother myself. But it's different when you have been trained on the phases and needs of the mother in each phase. It's more personal. It seemed like everything I learned in class and read in the book came to life right in front of my eyes. I was even able to tell when we were in the "rest and be thankful stage". This is when the contractions slow down and it's right before the baby comes out.
Overall, I felt like I did a pretty good job. I love the experience! I loved it so much that I decided to continue volunteering for longer than I had originally planned in my mind. I will most certainly continue to offer my services for free as long as the universe aligns me with the right connection. I can see myself doing this for a long time. I can also see how much I can learn about love and compassion just by being a doula. The world needs more of that. That will be my gift to the world.
Thank you India Harvey and baby Ase' Ma'at for allowing me to be apart of your story. I am forever grateful.
If you are in the Philadelphia area and you are looking for a volunteer doula, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.