Birth Stories, Uncategorized

Dear Levi

I’ve been writing this letter in my head for a year. The day you were born, I left the hospital and bought a giant cup of coffee. I didn’t go straight home like I usually do after a birth, but instead I took my coffee for a walk. It was a perfect October morning, golden, crisp, and full of promise. I made my way down the trail holding my coffee close and I passed so many people. There were old ladies power walking and young men out running their miles and it boggled my mind that they were going on with their lives as normal, not knowing that everything was different that day because you were here.

You were born and everything changed.

I watched your mom and dad fight for you through hours and hours of Chopped reruns and even more hours of pushing. I watched them make their way across the bridge that leads from “childless couple” to “parents.” It’s a really long bridge, Levi. It feels like it stretches forever and when you finally see the other side, you realize you’re close, but you’ve still got obstacles to overcome before you’re across. Levi, they overcame so much to bring you here. I hope someday you get the chance to walk over that bridge yourself so you can really understand how much they offered up for you.

I will never forget how long you took to get here. Buddy, you put us through the ringer. Your sweet mama was incredible. I’ve seen a lot of women have babies, but I’ve never seen someone so polite, so thankful, so considerate of everyone around her while she was working her hardest to have a baby. Your dad was precious to her. He was steady and comforting. He never stopped believing in her, not once.

When your mom got especially weary, there was one moment when she doubted herself. She had been pushing for hours, working desperately to bring you into the world, clawing her way across that bridge, and she asked us what she was doing wrong. 

Levi, there may come a day when you feel the same way. There might be a time when you’ll be doing all the right things, but they’re not achieving the effect you’re working toward and you’ll end up feeling discouraged and you’ll start doubting yourself and your abilities. I want you to remember what your dad said to your mom when she was in that place. 

When your mama asked us what she was doing wrong, your father replied,

Nothing. You are perfect.

And he was right. She was, in that broken and beautiful moment, completely perfect. So, when you feel lost and hopeless, I hope you remember the words spoken over your mother and over you in the moments before you were born. I hope you remember the deepest truth of all: that when there’s struggle, radical love is always the answer. Radical love is always the truth.

After your dad spoke those words, your mama mustered her strength. She accepted all of the help and love offered her, dug deep, let go of expectations and control, and delivered you into the world.

I see a lot of babies born, Levi. I don’t usually cry because I’m so busy taking pictures, getting cool cloths, and assuring moms and dads that yes, babies are normally that blue. But I cried when you were born. It might be because you’re my nephew, but I kind of think that it’s because your mom and dad showed me what it looks like to partner together to get over that bridge. Honestly, I’m crying now as I remember it. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing and I’ll never stop being grateful that I got to be there when you entered this wild world.

Levi, you are a light. You are important, loved, and wanted. You are prayed for and adored. You are here for a reason. My wish for you on your first birthday is that you would be strong like your mama, gentle like your dad, and always remember the power of loving people right where they are. 

Happy birthday, my sweet friend. I’m so glad you’re here.

This letter to one of my doula babies is a little snapshot of my doula heart and mind. It shows how I see my clients, how much I value the privilege of being at their births, and how much I treasure the little moments I get to experience. This letter is shared with permission from my clients who are part of the Bright Birth family and also happen to be members of my actual family. Levi turned one right before Halloween and I’m so grateful to share my experience of his birth.


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.