My Philosophy and Training:
I am a trained doula, certified through DONA, International since 2007, and a member of the Piedmont Area Doula Association. I have specialized training in "Spinning Babies" with Gail Tully, supporting survivors of sexual abuse or assault (with Penny Simpkin) and waterbirth with (Barbara Harper.) I am a WIC trained Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, and I am pursuing my HUG Your Baby certification.
I believe wholeheartedly that birth is a normal and powerful physical and spiritual experience for which women's bodies are uniquely and wonderfully created. The process of labor is much more than a means to an end. It is heroic and empowering. It is something to be experienced, rather than endured. Birth matters! It is a profound opportunity to work with your body, your partner, and your baby in a way that is unlike any other life event.
My Birth Experiences:
I am 56 years old, and a native of Michigan who has made my home in North Carolina for the past 22 years.
I have quite a patchwork of birth experiences in my past! When I was 26, my oldest son was born by Cesarean section in Lexington, Kentucky, near the small town where my husband was a seminary student. We were thrilled with our healthy new baby, but the Cesarean birth was a huge disappointment to me since I had a fairly normal and healthy pregnancy. I felt cheated and out-of-control. Although the "outcome" was good, I was left with a feeling that something just wasn't right. There was supposed to be "more." Most disappointing, it had negatively affected my time with my son immediately after birth.
Nearly two years later I delivered my second son as a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) in a beautiful experience with my husband and friend present. By this time we lived in Lansing, Michigan. The medical community was not thrilled about a VBAC, but I was extremely well-prepared for the intensity of labor and I felt victorious. I don't remember ever seriously considering pain medication, although it was no walk in the park- they don't call it "labor" for nothing! Unfortunately, our son was born with a congenital lung defect that became apparent when he was a few weeks old, and he passed away at two months.
We were devastated and changed forever, but determined to enlarge our family. I was healthy and we figured that this "freak" happening could surely not strike twice! I became pregnant for the third time the next year and discovered after a routine ultrasound that the baby had died at 20 weeks gestation of totally unrelated causes. I found myself in the same hospital, nearly a year after my son's funeral, delivering our stillborn baby girl, devastated once again.
When I miscarried early on in my fourth pregnancy, only 7 months later, I was ready to hang it up!
God's healing grace has shown that our path in life -and certainly in parenthood- usually does not go according to our plans. If this earthly life was all there is, I think that I would have lost hope. Through the curtain of pain and uncertainty I learned to hold my children very loosely. No matter how certain life looks, there are no guarantees. I must surrender them to God daily and trust him to keep them safe, and take them home when the time comes. This life is only a shadow of the glory that awaits us, and I cannot wait to be reunited with my three children who have gone before me!
Just a year after my miscarriage, I became pregnant again. "Just once more..." we promised ourselves. I decided that if it didn't work out, I would consider it a strong message that I needed to concentrate my time on raising my one precious son, and that was more than enough! Nine months later we were blessed with the birth of a beautiful baby girl, five years younger than our oldest son, and born by cesarean. This time I was better prepared for the possibility and it was handled in a much more gentle and empowering way by my Osteopathic physician. Now, my son (once 19 inches long) towers 7 inches above me, and my daughter tops me by about 3 inches. At 30 and 25 they are still my "babies" in many ways! Motherhood is an unpredictable joy and heartbreak. Childbirth is an excellent preparation for that journey!
A little more about me:
I am a Christian, active at Wendover Hills Wesleyan Church. I stay active traveling with my husband, playing with with my rescue dog, and remodeling our house. We love taking short trips to Raleigh to visit my married daughter (who is expecting our first grandchild this winter,) or the beach where we have a trailer. I like to read (when I have time), dance, and garden. I am addicted to HGTV and crime shows. I adore my home state of Michigan - especially the beaches, but I love my adopted home of NC with both the mountains and ocean so close by.
Professionally, I hold a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Western Michigan University, and a Masters in Adult Education from NC A&T State University. I am a Health Educator with an interest in prevention and wellness.
In addition to my "official" doula training and clients, I have assisted two friends in their childbirth experiences and found that I was "hooked" on the miraculous process of birth. Being in the support role has given me a new appreciation for my husband and all birthing fathers. That is hard work too!