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From Personal Birth to Empowering Others

The Start Of My Transformative Journey to Becoming a Doula


I frequently get asked why I became a doula so I figured it was high time to put it in writing!


Growing up I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and so that's what I did, and I was a damn good one. I taught public school music education for 10 years in a bunch of different school districts. I found out I was expecting in the spring of 2018, my first baby was due January 5, 2019.


Three positive pregnancy tests taken by Doula Chelsea to confirm her suspicion.

This was a huge full circle moment for me, I found out I was expecting through my intuition while standing at my Grandmama's bedside as she passed. It was like they crossed paths and I felt a flutter and instantly knew. Sure enough three pregnancy tests later there was no denying I was pregnant.




I had a pretty easy pregnancy overall, quite a bit of first trimester nausea and exhaustion but then second and third trimester were pretty great. I had decided to teach until I couldn't teach anymore so that's what I did.


Labor and Birth


I taught on Friday, January 4th and told everyone I would probably see them on Monday. Dear reader, I did not see them Monday. My water broke on Sunday evening (Jan 6) around 9:30 PM. I'd like to say it was like something out of the movies but in reality I was sitting in bed reading when I sneezed and farted at the same time and then I was all wet. LOL. Glamorous I know. Even funnier was that my husband didn't believe me and he wanted to smell the bed to make sure I didn't pee. (Oy vey!). I called my on call and they asked me to come in and get checked....I didn't want to but we went anyways. I went to triage for an hour or so and everything looked good minus the fact that there were no signs of baby girls making any further moves. The providers wanted to start induction but I pushed to go home in hopes I could get started on my own. We went home and attempted to sleep.


Doula Chelsea poses on the last day of her pregnancy wondering why her labor hasn't begun yet.

On Tuesday January 7, I dragged my feet hard about going back to the hospital. They wanted to see me at noon and I think it was closer to 2 or 3 pm when we went back in. I was in no rush and my daughter didn't seem to be either. This picture was taken just before we left to be induced. I think I was aiming for a "what the heck baby, are you coming out or what?!" type expression. Once we arrived I was put on fluids and started induction with Misoprostol to help ripen my cervix. After 2 doses, I was connected to pitocin. I started feeling minor period like cramps around 8 pm.


January 8: By 3-4 AM I was offered narcotics and I said yes. By 7:30 AM I was asking for an epidural. I had been laboring in bed this whole time and didn't know I could move around, I didn't know wireless monitoring was an option, and my husband/mom birth team didn't know how to help me manage the contractions. Once my epidural was on board I had a wonderful nurse who tucked my in with lavender on my pillow. She set me up with a side lying position and told me to nap. Every once in a while she would come back and rotate me. She told me to let her know when I had to poop. It was late morning maybe around 11AM ish when I felt the urge to poop. I couldn't feel my contractions and I pushed on my back being coached when and how to push. I pushed for under an hour and my daughter was born. I had a second degree tear and then had a horrible case of the post epidural itches.


Postpartum


We were discharged 48 hours later and sent home with our new bundle. This is where the going got tough for me. The first few 2-3 weeks seemed to go ok but then things started getting harder and much less manageable. At the time I didn't realize that I was heading towards postpartum depression but looking back on it it's very clear. I was exclusively breastfeeding and nipple confusion was talked about a lot a few years ago (it's total BS btw) so I was pretty hell bent on my daughter not taking bottles for the first 6 weeks. That basically meant my husband was on diaper duty only when he was home and pretty quickly I decided there was no point in him waking up overnight just to do diaper changes especially because he only had a week off from work and was pulling a lot of doubles.


A photo of Doula Chelsea's daughter fussing while being held and bounced on a yoga ball.

Pieces started to unravel and my daughter decided sleep any where but being held was unacceptable. I was pretty isolated at home besides a few visits from friends and family in the first few weeks. I reached out to a mom group and started going to their meet ups, my baby was the hard baby of the bunch. She screamed in her carseat, screamed when she was hungry, screamed when she was tired, only liked to be bounced or worn, and was getting harder and harder for anyone else to hold besides me.




Doula Chelsea lays with her daughter during a contact nap.


I felt like I was failing this tiny human. I didn't know what I was doing wrong and couldn't figure out why she was crying all the time. I was tired, hormonal, and I really didn't have a grip on anything. They say comparison is the thief of joy but when you're already depressed and struggling and then all your new mom friends have what seem to be angelic babies I can tell you it really does a number on you. Looking back I'm not sure if I spent more time crying or if my daughter did. There were of course glimpses of joy and I loved her from the day I met her but it was freaking hard.


Around 6-7 months things slowly started changing and the fog started to lift. My daughter was sleeping marginally better so I was getting more than 45 minutes at a time, she had started solids which helped with what looking back I think may have been a supply issue on my part, we started to interact more positively instead of only through tears and the depression started to slowly melt away. Each week felt more and more hopeful.


The Start of Something New


Doula Chelsea and her daughter snuggled up with a  ring sling

As I came to the other side I felt a call to help other parents. It started with my friends, as others became pregnant I walked them through building a registry, I cried with them through miscarriages, I talked with them about what a hospital delivery looks like and what the options are, I got real with them about how freaking hard breastfeeding can be, and that the sleep deprivation is brutal. For one of my very best friends I actually made a video series that I sent her as a gift about the milestones of newborn life, hospital preparation, and general encouragement. Someday maybe I'll post one haha. I suppose that could be considered my first major steps into doula life. I went back to teaching part time when my daughter was 9 months old and then quit in June of 2020 to move to CT and be a stay at home mom.


The itch to help other parents continued...stay tuned for part two!











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