Thank a doula is one of the ways to celebrate International Doula Month. My first post celebrating this month was What is a Doula? This is part two in our International Doula Month series. The third and final post will share my doula story. Stay tuned!
DONA, INT. suggested the topic ” Thank a Doula” for one week during this month. When I began contemplating thanking doulas, my mind flooded with gratitude as I reminiscenced about the doulas who helped me birth my own doula career. That is what happened for us 11 years ago – doulas doula’ing each other. Isn’t that so very appropriate?
The first doula to encourage me on my way was actually a midwife. She encouraged me to look into becoming a doula. She spent a few hours talking with me on the phone freely giving of her time to me.
Those conversations led me to Melissa Harley, a DONA, INT. birth doula trainer. She is now also the President of DONA, INT. Melissa worked with me to set up a training for doulas and helped me make it affordable for both Katie and I to attend. She spent 3 days pouring into us. Melissa continues to be a mentor for those she has trained and now for all DONA doulas around the world. Her doula heart lights our ways. You may find out more about Melissa at http://www.capitalcitydoulaservices.com/.
Daila Abrams in Birmingham, AL encouraged me in those early days. She also is a DONA birth doula trainer, and a founder of a non-profit that supports low income families with free doula support. You may learn more about her at https://www.birthwellpartners.org/doula-training/upcoming-doula-trainings/.
Along the way, we met a now dear friend named Cristy Jenkins. We didn’t know it at the time, but she is a doula. Cristy freely offered to allow Katie to shadow at births. She also invited us to attend her Childbirth Education course for the cost of the notebook. To know Cristy is to always have her in your heart.
The picture above was taken early in our doula career. It was the first c-sections Katie supported as a birth doula. Another amazing doula, midwife, RN, and IBCLC, Nancy Makransky, freely mentored doulas in Anniston, AL. As well as hosting free evenings for doula growth and providing wonderful food, she connected us with this adorable couple. They taught us so much and were so patient with us as we navigated a language barrier. But love, motherhood and google translate made a way. I still smile thinking of their chuckles at our feeble google translated contract. Nancy has moved on from Anniston and is now serving on the mission field in Africa.
Although he is not an official doula, I can’t leave out one of the best doula mentors in the Birmingham/Anniston area, Dr. Johannson. He invited us into his office on his own time spent an hour getting to know us. Dr. Johannson also came to Nancy’s doula growth nights. I’ll not soon forget his belly mapping and him getting in the floor to play with a doula’s baby nor will I forget him getting down on the hospital bathroom floor to catch a client’s baby. From him, I learned about real collaborative care. He truly is a doula to doulas. By the way…he is also an IBCLC! You may learn more about his practice at http://cheahawomen.com/.
When we moved to North MS, we found another big heart in Toni Hill. Toni was serving as a doula including serving those who are marginalized. She introduced us into the birthing area at events and to families looking for doula support. A WIC counselor, childbirth educator, and now a midwife, I know I can talk with Toni any time I need a ear to process a birth experience. If you know her, she can’t help but be full of smiles. You may find out more about Toni at https://www.tupelomidwife.com/.
We eventually relocated here to the greater Nashville area. This move five years ago has been a difficult transition. But, once again a doula named Heidi Duncan gave of her time to introduce herself to us. She graciously opened the door for us into our new area. Heidi has become a collaborator, a listening ear, and a doula I have enjoyed working along side of. You may learn more about Heidi at https://expectingnewlife.com/.
I can’t forget one of my latest doula treasures – Ann Grauer. Ann is a DONA, Int. postpartum doula trainer. She worked with me (and was patient with me) as I hosted a postpartum doula training. Ann also continues to encourage and mentor me and all of her doula trainees. I sure got lucky on my trainers! You may learn more about Ann and Nurturing Doula Dreams at https://www.anngrauer.com/.
You see, I have many doulas to thank. Each has blessed us in so many ways. They have freely mentored us, listened to us when we needed an ear, and encouraged us as we “birthed” our doula careers.
This post has been a journey of love looking back and sharing about each of these remarkable ladies who have poured so much into so many.
Thank each of you from the bottom of our doula hearts.