Editors note: I’m thrilled to have Emily chronicle her journey into doula work for our blog series, Doula Journeys: Challenges, Joys and Experiences . I remember when the photo she included in her story first hit my own social media feed and I was in awe! It showed such raw emotion of everyone at that birth and I wasn’t surprised when Emily contacted me not long after to register for doula training! I hope you enjoy reading this inspiring, emotional piece by CCDS doula Emily! -Melissa
By: Emily Geyer, doula, pursuing certification with DONA International
When I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby one of my best friends went into labor. She had invited me to be there weeks before so I quickly got ready and my husband and I went to meet her and her husband and another couple from our circle of friends at the birthing center they chose. The women went into the back to be close to the soon-to-be brand new parents while our husbands stayed in the front room listening through the walls and running food errands as needed.
I was pregnant from head to toe. Everything about me was round. My swollen feet barely fit into my Crocs and I didn’t know it yet but I was about to start wearing my husband’s t-shirts every day. I also didn’t know that I was about to have a painful PUPPS rash across my abdomen or that the tiny girl I was carrying would soon be dancing with her feet on my pelvis making no plans to turn.
I also didn’t know how much this one day would change my life.
My body contracted along with hers that day. Later, one of the student midwives told us her favorite part of that birth was the way I looked at my friend. Full of love and sympathy and confidence and excitement imagining how we’d switch roles in a few short weeks. All I did that day was sit in my very round bit of space and watch my friend. I had no idea what to do beyond that but it never occurred to me to feel out of place or like I didn’t belong. She needed us there cheering her on under our breath, knowing she could do this in the moments she didn’t think she could.
And then, after many hours of watching her move and dance and march and rest, the sun was up and her baby with the most perfect little button nose was there, staring back at us, as if thanking us for holding the space she now occupied.
We all wiped our eyes and let our breath out a bit and I knew there was no where else I should have been or would rather have been that day.
My friend went on to doula training within the next year. But I wasn’t ready yet. She started her business and moved and started it again and kept going and making it work. And once again I found myself watching her.
And more life happened. Another baby for my family, lots more babies for all of my friends. Tough years, good years, playgroups, homeschooling, my annual Facebook posts reminding everyone and myself that I was still thinking about becoming a doula one day. Sticking all of the encouraging responses to my posts into my pocket to carry around a little while longer.
Eventually another best friend asked me to be there for the birth of her baby.
And this happened:
I was there. And I ugly cried. And there was this definitive photographic evidence going close to viral in my small town. People started stopping me at the grocery store, at the library asking me why I looked familiar. So I’d scrunch up my face and reach out my arm and they’d quickly scream something about those amazing birth photographs and I’d scream a little too and we’d start figuring out all the friends we had in common because, you know, small town.
I couldn’t stop it any more. My affinity for birth and belief in us being there for each other in those moments was out of the box.
The doula call was officially shaking me, not letting me sleep, making my cheeks hurt from smiling just thinking about it.
Finally, I took the affirmations out of my pocket and held them in front of me as I filled out my online registration for the next DONA training near me. I wrote it on my calendar and made my obligatory Facebook post announcing it to my world. And everyone posted little hearts and said it was about time and congratulations and asked what I needed to get started. My friends and family reminded me that I’d already been doing this thing, that I already loved it, that they were there supporting me and that they wouldn’t stop.
And I ugly cried some more. And it was beautiful.
Emily Geyer completed a DONA training class in 2015 and is currently in the certification process to become a birth doula. When she’s not talking about birth, attending births, or writing about birth she’s probably hiking in the woods, crafting something or eating a snack. Emily lives in Tallahassee with her husband and two daughters. Find Emily on facebook @ Abiding Birth : Doula Services