As you know from my previous post, I’ve decided to use a doula for this birth. Not sure what a doula is? Click here to read more. I am really excited for the opportunity for birth to become an empowering experience for me. It’s currently filed in my brain under “Stuff I never want to go through again. Ever.” Based on what I know about my doula, she will help my husband and I achieve this. And of course, I will keep you updated about the process!
Here is Liz with one of her clients
One common misconception I’ve run into is that doulas are only for women who want to have natural, home births. Any good doula you will find is going to support any type of birth you desire, from a planned C-section to medicine-free, and everything in between. I haven’t decided yet how I’d like my second birth to look, but I know with my amazing doula’s help we will decide what works best for us.
My doula search and interviews…
So, as with most unfamiliar topics I run into, I turned to my favorite tool to help me find more information – Google. I found a couple of local doulas and started reading about them. I e-mailed for more information and received a phone call, and even did an interview! I was on a roll! Then, I remembered a friend of mine had used a doula for the birth of her daughter, so I reached out to her for more information on her experience. When I first learned about my friend using a doula, I wasn’t sure what a doula was, so my brain didn’t quite know where to file that information. Now that I was on the lookout for it, the memory came flooding back. She had nothing but positive things to say about her doula. So, when I searched for her (turns out she lives too far away from me) I found this treasure trove of information: http://doulamatch.net/.
There is a search function, where you choose your due date and location and it populates a list of available doulas. Ok, now a whole new doula-world opened up to me! There were a couple dozen more ladies to add to my list! How was I to choose? I think the best option for deciding who to have by your side during such an intimate moment in your life is to meet them face-to-face, ask any questions you have, and make sure you have chemistry.
Side note (don’t worry it has a purpose) – if you know me, you might be aware of the fact that I really like to have things organized. I’m not a neat freak, but I get anxiety about forgetting things and coming across unprepared. I’m totally one of those people who makes a list to go to the grocery store, and if I forget to add something to the list, not only will I throw it in the cart, but I will add it to the list so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off. Because I know I have a tendency to be scatterbrained, I work hard to fight my natural instincts and create systems to keep myself organized! Not to mention, the pregnancy-brain struggle is REAL, people.
That being said, in this instance, I created an Excel spreadsheet for the doulas I reached out to. I ended up emailing 22 women, and wanted to make sure I kept everything straight. I made columns for their availability on my due date, their cost, when they replied, when (and if) we met, and some other basic info. This method really helped me to visualize all my options. Based on their replies and availability, I whittled my list down and interviewed 6 doulas.
Some of the questions I asked each doula included
- Whether or not they would talk to medical professionals on my behalf. (I have a tendency not to speak up for myself when I should. For that reason, I need someone assertive by my side.)
- Comfort level with lactation support. (We had a rough go of this the first time, so if they can help us get off on the right foot this time around, bonus points!)
- Their feelings on hospital/medicated births. (I read about one doula who refused to work with people who were using medication or birthing in a hospital. Natural, home-births for her ONLY. Which is fine, if that’s where she feels comfortable – but it’s not for me and I need to make sure my doula is on my side. To be clear, this doula is the exception to the rule; every local one I researched said the exact opposite of this.)
- When do you join laboring women? (At home? Once she arrives at the hospital?)
- Familiar with my hospital and doctor? (Not necessary, but nice to know.)
- Familiar with prolapse? (I have a uterine prolapse, which is still new to me, and my doctor says it shouldn’t affect my labor. If my potential doula knows about prolapse, more bonus points!)
- Feelings about other people in the delivery room? (What if I want an entourage? Or no one else at all?)
- What do you do in the event you can’t make it? (Do you have a backup?)
Another side note – one more thing to know about me is I am not great at making decisions. I tend to over-analyze things, and have a hard time feeling like I’m letting people down. My husband helped me realize a big part in this is that I can be a black and white thinker, in the sense that I believe there is a right and wrong choice for most things. I tried on dozens of wedding dresses before choosing THE one and we saw probably close to 100 houses before deciding where to live. I needed to have THAT feeling!
Now, you can understand that meeting 6 different women was probably not a smart choice on my behalf. I really liked all of the doulas I met! But with Liz, I got THAT feeling. It’s a pretty big qualification of the job to be kind, nurturing, patient, and accepting; all six fit the bill. Even after I met Liz I was hesitant to make the call, because each woman had great qualities I didn’t want to ignore. One chased my son through the food court at the mall when he ran away. One re-lactated after breastfeeding issues. One even had a son with the same stuffed animal name as mine. Some seriously awesome women! But I knew in my heart Liz was the one for me.
My Doula: Liz Griffin, CD (DONA)
Liz and I met at a playground so my toddler could play while we talked. We bonded over being “boy moms” (she has 3, now!), and a doctor we both knew. She was calm and warm, while simultaneously putting off the vibe she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. Liz reminds me of someone I love, and I know she will be a welcome addition to my labor process. I wanted my husband to meet her as well, but it worked best for us to meet while he happened to be at work. I called to update him on our meeting and he immediately said, “I think you found your doula!” based only on the sound of my voice and how I described our meeting. As usual, he was right!
Liz has personally had an induced, induction-filled birth, an unmedicated birth, as well as a water birth. I know her personal experiences will contribute to her being able to help me make informed decisions about my own birth. In addition to the births of her own children, she’s attended 75 births over the last three years of being a doula.
Some things I learned about her online include her willingness and experience in assisting laboring women at hospital, birth center, and home births. She also has experience with all of the following:
- Single parents
- Cesarean birth
- Over 40
- High risk
- Plus size mothers
- Induced and high medical technology labor & birth
- Families conceiving with ART and IVF
- Home Birth
- Postpartum mood disorders
I also learned that Liz has a background in education, being a former elementary school music teacher. This is an excerpt from the “About Me” page on her website, http://naturalharmonydoula.com:
“I taught music full-time in an elementary school for 8 years before choosing to stay home with my children and finding my calling to the doula profession. My love of music and my passion for birth were the inspiration for the name “Natural Harmony.””
A couple of things that made her stand out to me include the fact that she offers a written birth story as a reminder of our birth experience. Some of those details get foggy afterwards, and I know it will be a very treasured, well-read story. She also mentioned she would snap a photo or two for us during labor. One of my biggest regrets with baby #1 is not having a single photo of us together in the hospital. Don’t get me wrong – she will not be a birth photographer, that’s a whole other job and I’m sure she will be busy! But, it will be nice to have one more person thinking about mementos we’d like to keep. And lastly, she shares “Dwight the doula” memes on her Facebook page! If you know me, you know I LOVE “The Office”. Dwight is a hilariously non-doula-like character from the show and these memes totally crack me up. It was one more way I knew we would get along well.
If you’re interested in using a doula, which I strongly encourage, do your research and do some interviews! Shoot Liz an e-mail and get to know her for yourself!
Find out more about Liz here on her website.
Since I’ve hired Liz, she had her third son. She emailed me two days after to ask how I was feeling! Seriously, how amazing is that? I think she may have still been in the hospital? She’s been responsive to my emails thus far and we still have a one more trimester to go!
I’m sure I will have more wonderful things to say about her as you follow my birth journey.