I’m Not the Doula for You

Okay, maybe I am…but maybe I’m not. And that’s ok!

Choosing a birth support team is a highly personal decision with many factors that come into play. From personal history to religious/cultural beliefs, desires for different types of medical care, and various risk factors in pregnancy, so many things have to be considered when hiring a doula.

Doula support is not one size fits all. What works for one family might not work for another. The communication style and personality of one doula might not gel at all with what you’re going for, but might be the perfect vibe for your best friend.

You are an intricate creation and your approach to childbirth will be as unique and original as you are. To expect any old doula to be “the one” to support you in birth is just silly. So when I say I’m not the doula for you, I very well might not be! And that’s okay. I have happily walked away from plenty of interviews with potential clients feeling completely certain that I was not the doula they were looking for. Maybe they weren’t the clients I was looking for and that’s okay, too!

The beauty of assembling a birth team is that you get to choose people who align with your values, beliefs, goals, and personality. Guys, this is your Marvel moment! You’re Nick Fury assembling a team of Avengers for the monumental job at hand and that’s incredibly cool and exciting, albeit with fewer capes. (Maybe don’t pick me if you don’t get down with superhero references?)

So, how should you discern which doula is the right one for you? There are tons of lists online that offer free access to questions to ask in doula interviews, but here are the things I think are most important:

What are your goals? Maybe you’re attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) or you’re a nervous first timer. Perhaps you are dedicated to delivering your baby without interventions or medications. Maybe you want some insight into bringing your faith into your hospital birth experience or you want to have an unassisted home birth. Each and every one of those births requires different styles and levels of support. Each one needs nuanced care that is specifically curated for the unique needs of that particular birth. Don’t hesitate to search for a doula who specializes in the kind of care you’re looking for.

What are your values? Is it important for you to have a doula who shares your faith or belief system? Do you want someone who has an extensive knowledge of the medical system? Is it important for you to have a doula who comes from a similar racial background? Make sure your potential doula has a handle on any customs or concerns you hold dear so that you’re certain you’re all speaking the same language in labor. Having a support person who shares your value system opens up a whole toolbox of ideology, culture, terminology, and context for her to tap into while you’re laboring.

Is this someone you feel connected to? When choosing a doula, you’re inviting someone into one of the most intimate moments of your life. She’s going to see some unmentionables. She’s going to be there when you’re emotionally and physically vulnerable. She’s going to hear you say the things you say when you’re at your absolute limit. She needs to be someone you feel safe and connected to, someone you trust wholeheartedly. Take the time to make sure your doula is someone you can honestly say you connect with and who makes you feel valued and secure.

What are her biases? Pay attention to any biases present. Ask what her birth philosophy is, what core values drive her practice, and what she considers a “successful” birth. You definitely don’t want to hire a “yes man” who tells you what you want to hear, but is driven by motives that contradict the sort of care you want to receive.

So maybe I’m not the doula for you. I am completely cool with that. At the end of the day I want you to have your best birth whether that includes me personally or not. I will never push my services on you. I will never ghost you or guilt you or be purposefully awkward…can’t vouch that I won’t accidentally be awkward, though.

What I will do is refer you to doulas who might be more up your alley. I’ll give you a heads up on what direction to take to achieve the goals you’ve set and I will wish you well. I’ll say a prayer that your birth is beautiful, validating, and precious, that you’re seen and heard by your team, honored by your provider, and adored by your partner. And then I’ll send you on your way to find a doula who will help you make that all happen…because she’s out there and worth finding, even if she’s not me.


Dear Quarantine Babies

Congratulations, you were conceived in 2020! Pandemic babies, corona-babies, quarantine babies… whatever people call you, you’re coming into the world at a very interesting time. There are a lot of memes and jokes going around that say your parents “stocked up on the wrong kind of protection,” or that they failed at social distancing. There are people joking that you’re the product of boredom or “Netflix and chill” gone wrong.

Babies, I need you to know that you are oh so right. You are not a mistake, you’re a miracle. You’re not just a by-product of a pandemic, a result of miserable time spent in lockdown, or a visual representation of your parents’ inability to cope with 2020 by watching The Office for the 800th time. Babies, you are here for a reason.

You are important.

You matter.

You are valuable.

You are needed.

I’m sure there are people out there who think that it’s a tragedy to bring another human into this world. And it’s true that our world is a tough place. There is tragedy, violence, pain, and hardship here. There is hate and hurt and lots of selfishness. We’ve got greed on speed dial and jealousy on repeat and don’t even get me started on the racism, sexism, intolerance, and comparison we’re wading through.

But, babies, that’s why we need you.

We need you to remind us that the world can be different. We need you to show up and give us a reason to hope, ideals to work toward, a future worth creating. If we won’t work to fix things for you, then who will we fix them for?

Babies, we need what you are. We need your softness and your smooshy little feet. We need you to remind us of the raw humanity into which we’ve all been born. We need you to be an example to us of fresh eyes and unsullied perspective. We need you to draw us out of our own selfishness and teach us what it really means to sacrifice ourselves for another. We need you to break us and strip us of who we think we are so that we can find the people we were meant to be. We need you to show up and melt our hardened hearts, so that we’re better able to embrace our vulnerabilities and faults and then grow because of them.

Yes, you’re being born into a world full of fighting, corruption, and abuse. But you’re the answer. You’re the second chance, the eggs in our basket, the potential change we’re nurturing and growing not under the illusion that we’re leaving you a perfect world, but in hopes that you will make a difference.

When you kick in the womb, you’re proving that you’re here to take up space. When you scream at 3 am, you’re proving your ability to speak truth into darkness. When you dirty yet another diaper, we see that you’re capable of affecting change…even if you have to make a stink to get it done. Your heartbeat alone should be cause for us to sit up and take notice. You’re here and you’re already making waves.

Babies, this is a complicated time and your parents might have complicated emotions when it comes to welcoming you. That’s okay. It’s real and it’s normal and I promise you’ll probably have complicated emotions welcoming them into parts of your own life at some point. I promise we’re all doing our best to be worthy of you. Forgive us when we mess up. After all, it’s a total myth that we grown-ups have it all together. The sooner you know that, the better, honestly.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I’m glad you’re here. I’m so excited you’re going to be joining us earthside and I can’t wait to see what you make of things. It’ll be messy, for sure. Birth and life always are. But there’s beauty in the raw realness of it all and I can’t wait to see what beauty you make of this muddled world you’re entering into.

Saints, Uncategorized

Saints for Childbirth: Our Lady Star of the Sea

The communion of saints is an especially beautiful part of the Catholic faith. As Catholics, we believe that the saints who have gone before us are able to intercede on our behalf and many of them have passions for particular needs, just like they did while living. If you’re not familiar with this practice, it’s basically like asking your close friend or family member pray for you for a particular need. I’ve got a handful of people here on earth who I know “get it” and are very faithful in prayer when it comes to certain situations and since we believe in eternal life the saints do the same thing. They’re the all-star holy squad ready and willing to pray for us for any manner of needs, childbirth included! This is just one example of graces that are available to us that, when utilized, can help your pregnancy and birth to be a holy and sacred experience.

When it comes to picking a patron saint to befriend during your pregnancy, there are so many amazing ones to choose from. There are solid, more well-known options like St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, or St. Elizabeth who felt St. John the Baptist leap in her womb, as well as lesser known saints like St. Colette. While living, St. Colette prayed for a mother struggling through a very difficult labor; the baby was successfully delivered and later grew up to be a sister in St. Colette’s convent! For more patrons of childbirth, visit Mary Haseltine’s list or even better, read her book Made For This: The Catholic Mom’s Guide to Birth. I highly recommend both her book and blog.

You can also just do a quick Google search to discover new saint friends to accompany you on your way to birth. The options are pretty much endless, which is something I love about the communion of saints. There’s one specific depiction of Blessed Virgin Mary, however, that I think is particularly suited to be a patroness of childbirth.

Stella Maris or Our Lady Star of the Sea is one of my absolute favorite images of the Blessed Mother. Frequently depicted standing on the turbulent waves of the ocean almost like a lighthouse to guide lost ships, Stella Maris is the patroness of seafarers and many coastal cities.

Given the fact that labor contractions are frequently referred to as waves, I think this makes Stella Maris the perfect labor companion. When the waves get high and seem too much for us to manage (during transition, maybe?), we can lean on Our Lady who lights the way to Christ. Just as travelers depend upon the North Star to guide them on their journey, so does Our Lady Star of the Sea guide us back to Jesus when we are feeling lost and hopeless. I can’t think of any more beautiful symbolism for labor: awash on an ocean of waves we can’t control, laboring mamas frequently need a reminder that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. And when Stella Maris points us back to her Son, we get a beautiful reminder that we are never alone. Stella Maris guides us to the one Who has gone before teaching us how to lay down our lives for our babies just as He laid His down for humanity.

Hail, bright star of ocean, 
God’s own Mother blest,
Ever sinless Virgin,
Gate of heavenly rest.

Taking that sweet Ave 
Which from Gabriel came,
Peace confirm within us,
Changing Eva’s name.

Break the captives’ fetters,
Light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.

Show thyself a Mother;
May the Word Divine,
Born for us thy Infant,
Hear our prayers through thine.

Virgin all excelling,
Mildest of the mild,
Freed from guilt, preserve us,
Pure and undefiled.

Keep our life all spotless,
Make our way secure,
Till we find in Jesus,
Joy forevermore.

Through the highest heaven
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son and Spirit,
One same glory be. Amen.

Ave Maris Stella: Traditional Hymn

Here’s my favorite version of this hymn sung by Marian Grace.

And check out this awesome Stella Maris shirt from Brickhouse in the City…such a perfect reminder that you are made for greatness, mamas! Get it here.

Do you have a favorite saint associated with parenthood, pregnancy, or childbirth? I always love to hear which saints people are drawn to, so let me know in the comments!