WHO? You can read all about "what" I do on my homepage. Who am I? I am a daughter. A sister. A wife. A cousin. A niece. An aunt. A Godparent. A fur baby mom. I grew up in a small town, which was devastating at first. To move to a small town in 6th grade, to be the new person, in a place that barely had a mall and the closest city is 1.5 hours away...ugh! But now, I couldn't be more grateful! I'm a bit of nerd. I've always loved school and got good grades. I'm a forever student. I love music of all kinds, movies, a great restaurant, time with family and friends, and especially time to hunker down and stay in with my husband and two cats.
I used to think I was expressive and emotional, in a healthy way, generally a happy person. After starting to date my (now) husband, I realized it was called "being single." I thought I had a handle on who I was, but in reality, I didn't have anyone else to act out towards, to call me out on my shit, or encourage the good things. I had nothing to reflect back at me. And at this point, it had been a year since my mom had passed away. I don't know that I ever admitted it, but I think that hardened me a little bit. When she was sick, I went into autopilot to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to, when they were supposed to, how they were supposed to. Holding space for other people. I like to organize things, be efficient, make things go smoothly. I took care of myself too. I felt and I cried and I got mad. I self soothed. Then I found yoga.
Yoga, to me, is a lifestyle. I don't practice everyday, physically. See, it's more than exercise. It's a thought process. It's a way of life. It's the way you breathe. It's the mindset you start your day with. It's gratitude. It's wonderful! Five years later, I became a yoga teacher, and months after that, a birth doula.
WHAT? What's a birth doula? "Doula" is a Greek term that means "to serve." I serve families prenatally, perinatally, and postpartum. In the prenatal period I get to know families and their beliefs and desires surrounding birth. We discuss options and alternatives, benefits and risks. We practice labor and role play conversations and scenarios. I am a guide. I can help by providing emotional, physical, and informational support, but I can not do it for them. Perinatally, I am there when families call me to the actual birth. I will stay with them and provide unbiased and constant support. I don't change shifts or make decisions for them. I can remind them of theirs and help facilitate smooth communication to the team. Partner's also benefit from this support. I remind them to eat and drink, go to the bathroom, or rest up for later. Postpartum, I stay with the family 1-2 hours after birth and we meet again for a home visit 1-2 weeks after. We discuss the experience and answer any questions. I can stay with the baby if the parents want to nap or shower. I can warm a meal or do the dishes. In the end, we don't measure success based on outcomes, but rather, on how the family felt during the process: safe. Heard. Respected. Included in their own birth story.
WHERE? I practice in Buffalo, NY and all the surrounding areas. I work for the family, not the system. Whether they are birthing at home, a birth center, with midwives or doctors, or any of the hospitals, my loyalty and support is with that family. Many people are surprised to hear that we work with families in hospitals. Doulas are not all crunchy. Not all hippy. Not all unmedicated, vaginal, homebirths. If fact, it may be of greater importance to invite a doula to your hospital birth. Why do you think that would be? Let's chat in the comments!
WHY? Why did I become a doula? My long term love of anatomy is the short answer...I think! As I mentioned, I'm a forever student. I love(d) school and did well. I'm the partner you wanted in A&P lab (ask my BFF) to dissect all the things and be your study buddy. I started in nursing school, transferred to a Surgical Technologist program, worked in surgery for 12 years, studied massage therapy, obtained my yoga teacher training, and learned all I could about pregnancy. Somewhere along the way, I decided I didn't want kids of my own...Whaaaaat?! Yep! No kids. But, I was so fascinated with pregnancy and birth that I wanted to be able to give the gift to others. I looked into surrogacy. I've never been a surrogate, but I would in a heartbeat! Once I began my massage career, it only solidified it for me. I love doing prenatal massages and being able to care for that mama for that hour that she relaxes on my table. Holding space for and watching the transformation that occurs in a couples journey to becoming a family is awe inspiring. I'm honored to do what I do.