support

Why I Became A Doula

I will never forget being present for my sister’s first birth back in 2010.  I had graduated college just one year prior and was in that funky place where I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life.  Part of my plan was to apply to medical school, so attending a birth was something I thought would be great on my application. My sister, her husband, their care provider, my mother, and I were all present in the birthing room.  It’s an experience I will never forget and one that I have taken with me on my current adventure as a birth doula. 

I am passionate about birth.  It inspires me.  It intrigues me.  I can’t get enough.   It is in my deep passion to work with birth professionals (midwives, OB/GYN’s, family practice M.D.s) in a collaborative way.  I completed my DONA-Approved Doula Training at Blooma this past November and fell even more in love with birth. The training covered all things doula including how to serve each mother, certification, and building a new doula business, creating partnerships, finding internships, and more. The training was engaging and hands-on. We rehearsed several different birth scenarios and discussed how to support expectant families in each of those scenarios. As a group, we practiced comfort measures on each other and discussed ways we could provide safe, trusting support to mamas throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum experience. 

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I have always been a doula at heart and I am certain a lot of you might feel the same.  It’s in my blood to support others.  To help them see their light, their strengths, their brightness.  To remind them that everything will be okay.  To just simply be there.  Have you held your friends hand when she had to make a hard choice during her pregnancy?  Did you lend an ear to listen when your sister needed to tell her birth story?  Did your mother or aunt delegate duties for immediate family and friends to help assist in a smooth transition for you and your partner after your baby’s arrival?  In a time when women are coming together to lift each other up, being a doula is a natural expression of support.

A birth doula is someone who provides continuous support to a woman throughout her labor and delivery. My work as a birth doula starts by encouraging families to educate themselves and make informed choices. For expecting moms, my role as a doula is to discuss birth preferences and be with mama as their birth journey unfolds.  Sometimes birth is exactly what a mama has envisioned, often there are many twists along the way. During labor and birth I do not project any hopes or expectations, instead, it is all about the mother and her needs. I am there to provide the tools that will help expectant families feel safe and comfortable, and I encourage them to be advocates for themselves along the way. 

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Are you considering becoming a birth doula? From the start of this ‘doula adventure’ it has been crucial to surround myself with a support team.  To those interested in becoming a doula here are a couple tips from the newbie. 

- If you are considering this path, it’s for a reason.  The world, a mother, a friend, a sister needs you.  Find a training program that is the right fit for you and get yourself registered!   Don’t let fear or doubt hold you back.  (Take a look at upcoming Doula Trainings at Blooma)

- Find your doula tribe.  This includes a crew of devotees that are your biggest cheerleaders; and honest, loyal, people who will keep you in check.  I have several doula friends on speed dial.  I know they are there to answer my questions while I’m in a birth, or to assist with advice in starting my business.  I also have a couple mama friends who aren’t necessarily doulas, but are just as important.   Network and meet with other doulas as much as you can.  Share ideas.  Make it full of community — not competition.  Let’s be real, there are 1,000s of moms giving birth every day.  We don’t need to compete with each other.  

- Be very honest with your family.  My husband knows I could get called to a birth at any moment.  He respects the career I chose, acknowledges this, and is ready to step up and handle anything that comes up at home while I’m at work (and doesn’t complain when my cellphone goes off at 2am in the middle of the night).  

- Self care:  Make sure you are caring for yourself.  Feel perfectly fine with saying no, and undoubtedly excited about saying yes — both when it feels right.  Schedule a monthly massage.  Clear your schedule the day after a birth to sleep, relax, walk, play, be. 

Let's all be doulas for the powerful and inspiring women around us. Support motherhood, womanhood, sisterhood.

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Learn more about Blooma’s DONA Approved Birth Doula Training. The next training will be led by Emily Shier and begins April 7th . It will include training for emotional support, physical comfort measures, natural labor & the impact of hormones, supporting women with pain medication, cesarean & vaginal birth after cesarean, working with Care Providers, supporting newborns & breastfeeding, postpartum client contact & support, Professional Doula Memberships, Certification Options, and more.

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Written by Amy Peterson-Kelley, Doula, Prenatal & Postpartum Yoga Instructor, Kids, Toddler, & Byob Yoga Instructor.  Wife, dog mom, sister, daughter, and auntie to 6 beautiful children!  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com

 

 

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

Hi. It’s 2017. You are gone now and a new year is in full-swing. This time of year, some of us reflect on the past, and possibly manifest or set intentions for the future. So, as I pause and look back at you 2016, I realize that I would like to thank you for all you have given to me. 

You 2016 gave me, and possibly many others, 12 months that kicked the shit out of me. For that, I am grateful. Please remember 2016, gratitude doesn’t always mean happiness. It means thank you. Thank you for life lessons.

2016, you humbled me. You taught me that I am not invincible, and quite frankly, I live in a fucking bubble, a bubble where I think everyone is like me, or at least thinks like me. I thought that I lived in a country where people wanted leaders that were kind. That we were moving towards a society of open minds and open hearts. So, thank you for reminding me that we are all different. We have different ways of expressing emotions, we have different values and passions. We have different opinions of who we want to lead our country and how we want to live our lives. And, I need to learn to accept (not agree with) these differences between many of us. Damn that is hard. 

2016 you reminded me of an incredible man that helped shape who I am: Prince. You brought his music back into my life and filled my soul during so many crucial milestones in my life. Songs like, “Starfish and Coffee”, “The Ladder” and “Sometimes it Snows in April” are back on my playlist filling me up when I need it the most. 

I am grateful to you, 2016, for bringing more family into my life. I now have 4 new stepsisters and one new stepbrother. Watching your mother get married for the 4th time is such a gift, especially when you really love the man she’s marrying. David is such a good addition to our lives these past ten years. I am grateful for 4th chances.

 

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2016, you taught me loss. Loss of mentors and loss of those that never took a breath on this earth. 

You introduced me to the darkest side of Alzheimer's and the devil it is. My amazing earth loving, home brew making, reader and classical-music-passionate Uncle Will Bill, lost his life to Alzheimer's at the young age of 72. He was my mother’s only living relative. He was one of my greatest role models. With his loss comes my passion to share his story and support other families dealing with this hellacious disease. I learned that saying goodbye to someone that shouldn’t be leaving is heart wrenching, and that I will do whatever I can to fight this disease. 

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Oh, 2016. A “mother’s intuition” is something that I have always firmly believed in and I strongly encourage mothers to listen and follow. So, on March 4, 2016 when I had a positive pregnancy test I knew this baby was going to change my life forever. I knew this little one was special, and from the beginning, I knew something was wrong. I told my mother, husband, midwife and therapist. Three months and 17 days later I learned that one little tiny extra chromosome (13) would change my life forever.  Then 4 days later I birthed my baby girl Sophia Love Ehlers.

2016, I am working to find the light in the loss of my daughter. I have always had a passion for mamas and birth, and the gift you gave me of Sophia has only deepened that. I love connecting to each woman that comes through Blooma’s door. Now, in my loss, I can connect and bond with a new set of mamas, those that experienced this same kind of loss. I can cry with them, experience the same emotions, lend an ear and truly say “I understand”. I can offer support to a whole other group of women.

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And in this loss, I learned how taboo this subject is. 

I am an advocate for not hiding things in the dark. We need to listen to these mamas that have experienced loss, be there for them, and not just brush this scary thing under a rug. I thought that people were comfortable talking about death. I learned very quickly that no, Americans and Midwesterners do not like talking about it. This only encourages me more to make Blooma a community where ALL births, topics, and struggles are discussed and supported. Amen for all the sisters that I have bonded with in The Sisterhood of Loss Group at Blooma. 

I am so grateful, 2016, for the outpouring of love and support that came day after day following our loss. Cards, flowers, meals, calls, emails, texts - each and every one I am grateful for. You taught me about the community I live in and the crazy amount of love and support that they can offer.

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More than ever you taught me that meds are amazing! I am so, so grateful for Zoloft. I am learning to release the guilt of upping my dosage. Is this how most people see the world? I have come to accept that I need a little “support” as I walk this current path. I won’t be on it forever, but I ain’t getting off it anytime soon! Thank you 2016. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes a mama needs a little help from modern medicine.

Along with Zoloft I am so deeply grateful for my therapist(s). Having a professional “hold space” for you in the throes of loss is crucial. My weekly (sometimes 2x) sessions with women who are dedicated to making the world and humans a better place is not something I will ever take advantage of. Therapy and Zoloft - two of the biggest things that got me through you 2016.

Oh boy, 2016, you brought me Navel and the crazy world of producing apparel. I love the message Navel is sharing, but did not know the intense process of manufacturing. I will never look at a piece of clothing the same. 

2016 you showed me a part of this country that is so beautiful, I couldn’t imagine it.  For the first time I experienced Alaska, a majestic place of beauty and quiet. Weeks after losing my daughter, it was such a safe escape for me and my family. The kids and I played Frisbee until 11:30pm under the bright sun! We hiked in the lush greens, drank at amazing breweries and yep, I fell head-over-heels in love with RV living (Can’t wait to retire in an RV one day, haha). 2016, you and Alaska taught me how to slow down and be present in the beauty of life. 

 

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This past year there was one act that I experienced multiple times a day that I believed saved me. The act of hugs and hugging. Thank you 2016 for arms that can be wrapped around those in need. Hugs of celebration, hugs of support, hugs of glory. I had some of the best hugs of my life the summer of 2016. I cherish each one of them along with the men and women that opened their arms to hold me.

Then, on the morning of New Year’s Eve, you gave my family us/me one last scare. My healthy, vibrant, energetic, young father-in-law, Steve, slipped and fell on the ice, causing bleeding in his brain. He had emergency brain surgery and we are now walking the path of OT, speech therapy and so on. (Sigh. Cry. Scream. Fuck!). And Amen to HCMC, Kenny Courage Center, and my mother in law for being by his side every step of the way. For Steve, every single day my family is working hard to make this experience one of the best we can. We are starting to see light as he talks and moves more each day. At the same time, we are all experiencing extreme emotional highs and lows. You taught me 2016, how fast life can change and to never ever forget to tell those you love how much they mean to you. What a reminder this was for my whole family to not sweat the small stuff.

2016, I thank you because you taught me how precious life is and that by no means can you ever take a day for granted. That friends, family and good cries are so damn necessary. My marriage and my relationship with my sister has deepened and that is one of the best gifts you could ever give me. 

Thank you 2016. Thank you for all the life lessons. I will do my best to continue to learn from them. I will do my best to celebrate what I have been given. And, maybe, just maybe, could you drop a line to 2017 for me? Could you let 2017 know that I am ready with open arms for more life lessons... but no more loss. Please.

Love, 

Sarah Longacre

Blooma founder, Yogi, Doula, mama, partner, sister & friend