I am an engineering student in the start of my Ph. D. program, and also in training to be a birth doula. Alternate titles included L.E.D.: Light-emitting doula; Doula Diode; and Help! Have you seen my doula?
If you're like my mother, you'll ask, "Why doula? Isn't engineering grad school enough?"
No, it isn't, and I'll tell you why.
I've heard, in small pieces, my mother's birth story --- me --- in horrid hints dropped over dinner and bursts of vivid, awful memories while shopping for baby clothes. She's never told me in one sitting. I don't think she can put the whole experience into words, what a Soviet birth was like. When I told her about the Guatemala City doula study, and the conditions under which these women gave birth, she says, "So what? You were born just like that, too."
I am a milk donor. Every few weeks, a nice lady in a Prius drives to my house and picks up little round bottles and plastic bags filled with my frozen milk. My mother tried her best to breastfeed me, despite mounds of misinformation which, because it was from the mouths of doctors, she followed to a tee. She developed recurring mastitis, which was treated by letting it get out of hand, and then operating. After the first operation, she fed me on one side, because the other was draining half blood, half milk. After the second operation, we supplemented with a generous neighbor's milk. The operations left her with giant, uneven scars on her right breast.
I am a milk donor because my mother wasn't, but could have been.
And in this light, I want to be a doula to be able to do for women what my mother never had in childbirth. I want to support women in labor so they feel empowered, not frightened; so that their needs are met; so that their desires are accommodated. So when these new mothers look back on their birth experience, they can say, "I am a stronger person; my body and I know how to birth a baby."
Do you know how to birth a baby?