I have been a doula in my community for 15 years. To my mind this is a long time to be a doula given the less than ideal hours and limited earning potential of the profession. But, most people that follow this path and are still practicing after 15 years were surely not drawn to it for the money, that I can assure you. Me being no different, my interest to serve women at the biggest turning point of their lives comes from a deep respect and love for the woman and only her at the core of it. For me, this has made being a doula one of the most emotionally rewarding things I have ever done.
Part of the responsibility I also felt as a doula was to always make sure I was continually educating myself and giving back to the larger community and my fellow doulas as well. I very much enjoyed mentoring and facilitating continuing education opportunities whenever I was able to and contributing to the greater good of the doula profession. Some great strides have been made in many areas in the advancement of the doula profession and some even in our own community here in Edmonton. The local doula association has added a much needed continuing education component to their membership benefits so local doulas can continue to learn and be supported in their work.
I have been a member in good standing of DONA International (one of several doula organizations) for many years and served two terms as their Alberta Representative. This affiliation has taught me many lessons that I will take into both my professional and personal lives. I have attended hundreds of hours of continuing education workshops, classes, conventions and groups and volunteered many hours to both clients and my doula community over the years.
As I type this post we are on the eve of a doula training workshop taking place over the next six days at Birth Source Inc. by MotherWit Doula Care based in Montreal, QC http://www.motherwit.ca/Doula-Training.htm . Here, 12 very fortunate women will be learning as well as drawing inspiration and wisdom from a very wise and successful doula herself, Lesley Everest. Lesley offers what I consider to be the most comprehensive and highest quality doula trainings in Canada and possibly North America. At the end of this week our local Edmonton community as well as other Alberta communities and beyond will have some of the most well prepared, inspired and professional doulas we have to offer. These ladies will possess the tools to begin their doula practices feeling supported, and emotionally and intellectually prepared to work within an increasingly complicated medical system. They will have the confidence to understand and work within a political and ever changing landscape as well as the added benefit of learning the "business" side of maintaining a doula practice, something that has been sadly missing from many doula trainings.
Bringing Lesley and this training to my community is a fitting conclusion to a profession that I have loved for many years and will continue to love for many to come. I feel like it is the finishing touch on the journey I started 15 years ago. I am effectively hanging up my"birth bag" as a professional doula and since I have been offering services to repeat clients and direct referrals on a limited basis for the past four years, I haven't had a full client load for some time. I promised myself that when the day arrived that my heart was no longer in my work I would stop. My heart is not completely absent don't get me wrong, but I no longer have the energy to give of myself in the capacity my clients deserve. I am not as available to them post birth as much as they need me to be and I have lost the adrenaline rush that comes with an impending birth in the wings. To my friends who have asked me to attend their births in the future I am absolutely honoured to do so. Attending a birth as a friend is much different than attending as your doula. I am making room in my life to pick up other pursuits that have been on the back burner for a long time and with which I will still continue to serve the mothers and babies in my community.
My contribution to the doula profession and my community going ahead will be to help the doulas that take part in this MotherWit training to be as successful as they can be and to move forward with excitement and confidence as they begin their own doula journeys.
To my past client's, thank you from the very bottom of my heart for inviting me to share the most sacred and profound part of your lives with you. To the babies that I have witnessed the beginning of life earth side, you will be in my heart forever. May you grow with abundant love, peace and joy.