Saturday, April 26, 2014

Welcome to the Land of Birth! Doulas, mothers and miracles

… where we often have little or no control, where we are wading into uncharted territory, where the rules might change at any minute, and where brave women (and not-so-brave women) have dared to go for millions of years, and succeeded. If they hadn’t we wouldn’t be here today.

My own birth journey essentially began with my first baby. The only alternative (read SANE) book out there in 1980 was the first edition of Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. I devoured that book. I could do this. And I did, having my almost-10 lb. Abraham in a little birthing room in a hospital before the doctor even made it. We checked out and went home 6 hours later.

I wanted to do the same thing when I became pregnant again. We knew it was twins before the doctor did. I scheduled my own ultrasound to convince him. The only way I could have them in MN in 1982 was in an operating room after being prepped for surgery. Then they would let me try to have a natural birth -- which they were terrified of.

So I called Ina May for advice, who invited me to The Farm. I moved there for the fall and had a beautiful birth which they filmed and called “Twin Vertex Birth” which by the way has been used recently in the movies “Birth Story” and also “More Business of Being Born”.

After the twin we had two more babies, three years apart. They were both unassisted home births … though I had planned to have a midwife both times but they never made it. By the time we had 5 children I had taken a few courses and began to seriously think about become a midwife. It all came together when I received a fellowship in 1988 to go back to school and received my midwifery license.

Fast forward to 2010. We had just returned to MN after living in England. I was turning 60. I did not want to work in a hospital as a midwife and be assigned two or three or more families per shift, and have to learn all of the new electronic monitoring and charting. I did not want to do the boards all over again which could take up to 2 years to prepare for, so I looked at my credentials and decided I could teach… and then I discovered the birth community here and Doulas!

This is my dream job. I don’t have to leave at shift change. I can be a grandma or a surrogate mom to a refugee family who have no one else here. I am already called Mommy in the Ethiopian immigrant community. I am honored and humbled that I can still witness birth.

There are over 30 doulas in our group at Everyday Miracles. We have classes in Somali, Spanish and English. If you haven’t already, please check out the website or better yet, come visit. Call ahead if you want to sit in on a class or follow one of us around for a day.

Yes, my scope of practice has changed. I don’t check dilation or fetal heart rates, but I get to connect with amazing mamas and support them during the most momentous event in the entire universe at that moment at their birth. I am with them as their doula when they go from being a woman to becoming a mother. I feel so blessed.

Stay Tuned! This and other stories will be available in my book, Ma Doula coming out in May 2015!

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