No idea what a doula is or what they do? You’re not alone! If you have some idea, you may believe hiring a doula is (A) something only rich people can afford, and/or (B) that the trouble of paying money for someone to make you tea, give you a massage, or maybe say some calming words during a few hours of labor is not worth the expense. These were some of my surface impressions of what doulas did. Fast forward to the impending birth of our first child. Months of reading baby literature and watching my body become completely unrecognizable led to the gradual recognition that I had no idea of what to expect from childbirth! Bonus that I had no family in the area, a history of depression that debatably stemmed from my own birth story, and no car. Perhaps a doula would help me navigate the unknown?
My husband and I began our doula search by looking for an experienced doula that might be able to help answer my myriad questions about baby-to-be. A hairstylist’s recommendation brought us to Lucy. Lucy held strong convictions about practicing principals of social justice that matched my goal of my son helping to bring “light into the world.” She was very up front about self-identifying as a radical doula, but never in a judgmental way, and always with humility and good humor. We met several times for prenatal visits, and one visit included her attending my baby shower. I deeply appreciated her flexibility and willingness to meet my group of friends and get to know my support system.
One thing I liked most about working with Lucy was her determination and commitment, which let me to trust inviting her to join me on my journey into childbirth. Although she did not have a car, she made it clear that it would not be a barrier to her being exactly where she needed to be, when she needed to be there. She was totally genuine in her commitment, was never late for any of our appointments, and also spent a lot of time trying to help us secure our own transportation to the hospital. When I ended up having to be unexpectedly induced, Lucy easily found her own transportation to the hospital. Armed with a jug of coffee and kombucha, she was by my side during almost our entire 36-hour, intervention-intensive childbirth. Despite my hopes for a natural childbirth, she never made me feel judged for accepting interventions, and having her walk with my husband and I through our decisions helped remove fear and shame from the equation.
Although I was compromised for most of my labor by an allergic reaction, she helped me assert my needs by making a sign requesting that no men be in the room (besides my husband), and that I be called by my middle name (the name I’m normally called, not the name on my insurance card). She also helped reassure me that it was ok to make requests and not worry that I might be ‘disappointing’ the staff. She brought small sculptures and things she knew would inspire me, like a little lady Chiapas figurine.
Lucy’s effort helped keep me going, both mentally and physically. She took naps on the floor of our room for two nights. Having her there meant my husband was able to decompress, refresh and take short breaks. I’ll never forget the dozens of times she walked me to the bathroom, helped me shower, helped hold my legs when I could no longer push, and even helped clean me following the messy post-birth experience that I’ll spare the details on. Two placenta prints and several months later, Lucy is still a part of our family’s life and I could not be more touched by her effort. We were so grateful to include her in our son Jonathan’s birth story and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her as a birth ally.
I, in turn, had a transformative realization about the life-altering role a doula can play in shaping the most important event most of us will ever experience. For me, this experience blurred the lines between life and death, and I don’t actually remember whether I even wanted a massage in the eleventh hour! What I do know is that I needed someone that would help me find my way out of the birthing tunnel. Lucy was my guiding voice, and I am so grateful to have had her there to honor my strength and resilience. My biggest takeaway? Being supported by a doula like Lucy enables Lucy to continue providing support to others. It’s a win for all Bay area mamas and families. We love Lucy!