When people ask why I became a doula, I tell them I love all things birthy. I am fascinated by pregnancy, what the body and your baby are capable of. I love facts, stats, and normalizing. I bloody well also just like knowing things.
But there's more. I became really interested in fertility after our first miscarriage. I read whatever I could around pregnancy. After the second MC, I found the preliminary catheter and dye testing we had at the time (to check for deviations and septums of the uterus) incredible. I loved the idea of taking charge of my fertility and charting my cycles. Gratefully, I didn't need to do it for as long as some. That would get tired reallllly fast.
Looking back, my doula work didn't really start with birth facts. Maybe it was in Highschool, holding one of my closest girlfriend's hands when she got her stitches out after her breast reduction.
Maybe it started when my dear friend Chris was diagnosed with primary sclerosing colongitis and received a liver transplant. He spent more days in the hospital that year, than out. I needed to learn everything I could about the situation. I spent more time with him during the two months he was hospitalized close to me (the first time!) than with my husband. Details have gotten foggy over the last eight years, but after surgery when he developed lymphoma, then appendicitis and pancreatitis, his family asked me to go to him. He was having emergency surgery and they weren't sure they'd make it in time from Windsor. I shooed out the youth from the Teen Centre, and provided them with homework so I could leave. Doula life: Drop and go. I used to ask to watch when they were changing dressings. Incredible modern medicine. Blood was no big.
Maybe it was attending my mother's vascular cardiology appointments before her bifermoral aeortal bypass. Decoding information, asking situational questions, and discussing comfort measures.... I'm a bypass doula.
I'm new to the birth doula gig- I know that. But this is more than birth facts and breathing techniques. Being a doula doesn't always have to do with how many births they've been to. Yes, experiences count, but personality, response, courage under fire, trust, the ability to validate... count more.
My guess is that if you ask the next doula you meet why she does what she does, she will tell you about reproduction. In her heart, she will have stories where she's shown up and loved hard.
This is heart work and holding space.
Jackie Anger is a London, Ontario doula, a mama to an amazing pre-schooler, and a kid-dude, a community advocate, and a lover of coffee.