Uncategorized

Faith Over Fear

So much of birth is about becoming vulnerable. We spend months prepping and planning, but when it comes time to actually labor and deliver our babies, the most integral ingredient to our births is vulnerability. Only through submitting ourselves to the process of birth can we move through pain, fear, and uncertainty into the beauty of new life. Birth is a real watershed experience that requires us to lay it all out. We must completely lay bare everything; our bodies and all the notions we have about them, what we’re capable of, our anxieties, our expectations, all of that must be surrendered until we’re left with the very essence of ourselves stretched out in vulnerability and sweating from the effort. Only then can we be open enough to deliver our babies into the world.

And gosh, laying it all out is scary. It’s complicated and requires us to let go of control. It means that we might lose some things that we previously thought were guaranteed and that more may be asked of us than we feel prepared to give. Laying it all out means that we have to trust that this story is a lot bigger than we are, that we’re swept up in a story that is cosmically bigger and intimately more detailed than we’ve ever imagined.

It’s a lot to ask of a person, to ask of a family.

I find myself in a similar position with my doula business. I’ve been studying and pursuing doula work since 2015, slowly inching my way into the industry. Gosh, I love it, but I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t been struggling. It’s been so difficult to find my niche, so hard to know where I fit into a community of other doulas who are just rocking it, hard to decide which avenues I should pursue, how to gain a following, and attract more clients so I can serve more families.

A lot (read most) of my hesitancy has come from fear and imposter syndrome. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make myself fit the mold of some ideal I’ve created by observing the absolute best that doulas in my area have to offer. But here’s the thing: I can’t be the best of everybody else. I can only be the best of me. Every time I’ve tried to mimic what other doulas are doing, it comes up short and is completely unsatisfying.

I’ve recently had time to do a lot of thinking, soul searching, and praying. And the thing I keep coming back to is something that has echoed in my heart for months and months and months. I can’t separate my faith from my work. I am a Christian and a Catholic and separating my identity as doula from my faith feels impossible. Or rather, it feels impossible to be a doula without integrating my faith into my work.

But faith can be alienating for a lot of people and I totally get that. It seems counter productive to limit my doula practice to such a specific group of people, especially when my main goal is to build it. It’s also difficult to market Christianity without being lumped in with a lot of ideals that I don’t necessarily subscribe to. My Jesus is not cheesy or an upper middle-class white man, but when I think, “Christian doula,” that’s kind of what I picture, to be honest. I obviously have my own biases to contend with. Branding myself this way contains certain risks, either way.

And yet.

And yet I feel more excited by this idea than I ever have before. I feel certain that this is an opportunity to speak truth to a community that needs me. I feel called, plain and simple, uniquely called to serve a specific group. While I haven’t heard the audible voice of God booming around me or speaking from a burning bush, I’ve felt tug after tug after tug on my heart. I’ve had clients tell me that they’re hiring me because they know I’m Catholic. I’ve seen God speak to me through post-it notes and chapstick. Over and over I’ve heard Him say, “Faith over fear.”

So, what does this mean for my business? It means that I’ll be writing and speaking about how to integrate the physical aspects of birth with the spiritual. I’ll be creating content specifically from a Christian and Catholic perspective, sharing scripture and prayer, talking about Saints, blessings, and Jesus.

This does not mean that I won’t take on clients who don’t subscribe to my belief system. You can certainly achieve beautiful, healthy birth without being Christian or Catholic, and I love to love on families regardless of their faith background. Not a shred of my heart for birth has changed, I’m just removing the filter and it feels really good.

Maybe I’ll get more clients or maybe I’ll miss out on a ton of opportunities. I’m good with that. I am not the doula for every single person and that’s okay. At the end of the day, this isn’t my work, it’s God’s. The success of this business isn’t solely dependent upon me being in control, but rather in me being obedient to God’s will. What a relief.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. If you’ve got questions, please feel free to reach out. I’m genuinely so jazzed about where I’m headed and I can’t wait to see where the Lord leads me and where He leads us.

Much love,

Mary Susan

Uncategorized

Bring Your BRAIN to Birth

There’s a popular acronym in the birth community that I absolutely love. It’s just as simple as remembering to bring your BRAIN to birth!

When making any decision prenatally, during labor, or even postpartum, run it through this rubric:

Benefits – What are the benefits of making this decision? Whether it’s scheduling an induction, trying a new prenatal exercise video, or deciding whether or not you’ll opt for an epidural, take a minute to think about what good the intervention or decision will do you.

Risks – What are the risks? Are there any ways this decision could negatively impact your pregnancy or birth? Does it line up with your birth plan or could it potentially set you off on a path you’d rather avoid?

Alternatives – What other options are on the table? Sometimes thinking outside the box is just what the doctor (or midwife) ordered!

Intuition – What does your gut tell you? If you’re not feeling peaceful about a decision, take note. It’s important to validate your intuition and trust your instincts.

Nothing – What happens if you do nothing? Sometimes the best decision is no decision at all or just to wait for an hour and then revisit it. In many instances, just giving yourself some time can help you sort out pros and cons and feel confident in the direction your birth is headed.

That’s it! Short and sweet…just like I hope your labor will be! 😉

If you want to get your hands on a BRAIN birth shirt like this one, head over to The Birth Shop on Bonfire…she’s even got it on a mug, which would be perfect for a home birth, eh?
Uncategorized

Update to Services: Virtual Doula Support

The current outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has radically changed our childbirth system, making it impossible for doulas to be physically present during most hospital births. However, doula support is just as valuable as ever. In fact, one might argue that doulas are needed now more than ever. In a time when expectant parents are anxious, navigating policy changes in their hospitals, as well as in their state and local governments, managing potential changes to income and daily living, and filtering through the onslaught of incoming news and recommendations, the guidance of a seasoned doula provides irreplaceable calm in the storm. When so much is out of our control, it is imperative that expectant parents have access to birth professionals who can answer questions, provide training, teach coping techniques, and be a voice of confidence and comfort in the birth room. While nothing replaces the physical presence of a doula, virtual support is the next best thing! 

It is so important for me to emphasize that you are not alone and do not have to navigate this time by yourself. I’m happy to say that I already offer distance support and can vouch for the benefits of virtual doula support. At this time, I’ve created a special Virtual Doula Support package at a reduced rate of $300. (My traditional birth doula packages range from $500-$700.) The Virtual Doula package offers more comprehensive support than my Distance Doula package, including more extensive prenatal support and is perfect for expectant parents delivering under the current Covid-19 restriction. The package includes the following:

  1. Up to three virtual prenatal support meetings during which I will help you navigate the current birth environment, create a birth plan, advise you and your partner on comfort measures and positions, provide extra training to your support partner, and more.
  2. Email and text support, including unlimited on-call access beginning at 38 weeks of pregnancy.
  3. Pdf files of labor resources and a concise labor guide for quick reference.
  4. Virtual support for the entirety of your labor, method to be determined by the client and doula after contract signing.
  5. Virtual postpartum meeting at 7-10 days after delivery as well as text/email support for up to four weeks after delivery.
  6. Access to resource list of virtual and Telehealth postpartum support.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty due to Covid-19 but would still like doula support for your birth, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My deepest desire is for all families to have the best birth experience possible and am happy to make payment arrangements as needed. I’m here for you always, but especially in this current climate of change and unpredictability. 

You may not have the birth experience you always thought you’d have, but together we can ensure that your birth is beautiful, enriching, and empowering. Though so much has changed, you still have options and the ability to take the lead. If you’re looking for a partner to accompany your family on this wild ride, I am happy to be your huckleberry. I know you can do this and I’m here for you every step of the way!

Love and light,

Mary Susan Delagrange CD(DONA)

 Let choice whisper in your ear and love murmur in your heart. Be ready. Here comes life.

Maya Angelou