Twenty years ago, I sat in a darkened room and watched my first birth film. I was entranced. I couldn’t get over how cool the whole thing was! How strong the birthing woman was, how supportive her partner was helping her through each contraction, how wise and wonderful her provider was assisting her in the process! It was mind blowing to me and a miracle to witness. In short, I was hooked!
I was just supposed to be taking part in a doula training to support my BFF through her first birth — a little overkill perhaps, but if you know me, I don’t really believe in doing anything half-way.
At the end of this first day of training, I called my husband and announced: “I know what I want to do with the rest of my life!” Even though I had no idea what the “how/when/where” was going to look like. All I knew for sure, was “The Why.”
You see, without ever having been pregnant or given birth myself, I intuitively understood that giving birth would have a tremendous impact on everyone involved. I got it, before I ever “got it.” When a baby is born, so are the parents. They are transformed forever through the act of saying yes to becoming a family — whether that happens by surprise, by calculated and expensive procedures designed to assist, after many painful losses, or through adoption — becoming a parent is one of the most vulnerable experiences anyone goes through in their life. And it’s this reason that the work we do (and by this collective “we” I mean all of us who connect with these families along their parenting journey) is so incredibly important.
At whatever point we come in contact with these families, they’re wanting, needing, connection to someone who’s willing to hear what they might not even be saying out loud:
“I feel so alone.”
“This has been so much harder than I thought it would be.”
“I need help.”
And we’re the ones who are there for them: the childbirth educators, the birth and postpartum doulas, the L&D nurses, the lactation specialists, the support group and new parenting facilitators. We are the frontline in supporting these new families when they need it the most.
The work we do matters. We matter.
Most of us know that the title that we use professionally is just a cover… It’s the way we get families in the door so that we can talk about how to best prepare for childbirth, or how to correct a poor latch, or how to get ready to go back to work.
Yes, it’s true we do all of that. But we do so much more.
We hold space for these families to create community with one another. We lessen their fears. We increase their confidence. We encourage them to find their voice, and use it, to create a sense of trust with all the members of their birth team. We elevate the role of the partner, so they don’t feel forgotten or left out. We model communication skills that will create deeper connections and relationships. We hold hands, wipe away tears, give hugs. We listen. We care. We love these families. We love them so much.
I don’t know any birth workers that are getting rich off of the work they do. Many of us hold down more than one job, and in lots of different places, to help make ends meet. But we know that there’s no other work we could be doing that would fill us up in quite the same way.
In a culture that places productivity and profit above everything else, it can be disheartening to try and continue to “do business as unusual.”
So, I wanted to take a moment to remind us all about “The Why” of the work we do for our families.
I see you. I appreciate you. Keep up the good work, for it is such good work.
What we do matters. We matter.
This song has two meanings… It could be something we sing for all of the people that we work with, but it should also be a song for all of us who do this work. Listen to it loud. Let it sink in, ring in your ears and settle into your soul.
You Matter To Me.
Please share with anyone you know who does this really good work. Sometimes we just need a little reminder…