I knew I wanted to be work in birth since I was a little girl.  It wasn’t until after the birth of my second that I KNEW I wanted to be a doula.  I also knew I would never give birth without a doula present again.  The support we provide is ……well I’ll let one of my clients tell you in her words.  This heart warming testimony leaves me shedding a tear each and every time I read it.

“While I have never been called a woman of few words, I sit here, at 3:28 AM, exactly a month to the day our precious daughter, Paige Lily, was born, staring at her beautiful face as she peacefully sleeps after a feeding and find myself overwhelmed with gratitude…and many words to express this gratitude. Much of this gratitude is for Stephanie, our amazing doula. I had been fortunate enough in my path of life to meet individuals who shared their experiences with doulas, the support these doulas provided, the calm they offered amid the storm, and I knew that if I was ever blessed enough to be a mother, having a doula was a strong desire of mine.

While my intention was to meet with, perhaps, several doulas, after meeting with Stephanie, I felt a
sense of knowing. A knowing that she could and would provide that calm, that she was someone who I
felt I could trust, someone whom I wanted to be a part of our wonderful journey. My partner, Ryan,
who was unfamiliar with doulas and was a bit skeptical of their necessity, left our initial appointment
with Stephanie convinced that having a doula was a wonderful idea, although little to no convincing
came from her. I guess I would say that Stephanie just has a way to her, a way that makes you want to
be in a room with her. A room, which ironically months down the road, will be filled with unknowns,
and pain, and joy, and miracles.

“Stephanie not only provided words of comfort, but also facts. She led me to literature to help me further educate myself,”

Throughout our pregnancy, Stephanie was there. And while this sounds simple enough, having
someone there, especially as a first-time mom, truly is priceless. She was there. She was there to help
us create our birth plan. Through our discussions some questions were easy. Epidural or no epidural? No, thank you (I hope). Episiotomy or natural tearing during labor? Where’s the neither selection? To
more difficult options, ones that included terminologies we were unfamiliar with and aspects that had
never even occurred to us to think about. Although extremely passionate for what she does, I was
amazed with Stephanie’s gentle reserve. Her way of answering my questions and providing insight while
never allowing her personal thoughts or preferences to be cast on what are, ultimately, our personal
and important decisions was impressive. Stephanie was there when I called her at near 38 weeks,
sitting in the Menards parking lot, sobbing after meeting with a new doctor (while my doctor was out on
vacation) who not so eloquently advised me of the possibilities of shoulder dystocia and potential fetal
death due to the expected large size of our daughter. Followed then by his recommendation and
encouragement for inducement, which of course, was not part of my birth plan. I was left feeling hurt,
discouraged and scared. Between my sniffles, Stephanie not only provided words of comfort, but also
facts. She led me to literature to help me further educate myself, which assisted in restoring that sense
of calm that I so greatly needed.

“I’m here if you need anything.”

Well, our daughter, thankfully, decided to take matters into her own hands. Four days later, I awoke to
my water breaking at 2:47 AM. A bit alarmed, and still dazed from being sound sleep, I contacted
Stephanie, not sure what to do. Her advice, “Go back to sleep, you’ll need your rest. Contact me with
updates. I’m here if you need anything.” Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to sleep? I’m going
to have a baby soon, sooner than I expected. What if……..what if….what if….there was no stopping
many of these types of thoughts. Looking back, while I do wish I would have taken her advice and slept,
I did what I do best when I’m in a situation where I know I may have less control than I’d like. I
organized, I tried to prepare, and I also did try to find time to stop running around the house like a crazy
woman and lie still and visualize how I wanted my birth to go.

“…please do ensure this part of your plan, a plan to have a doula present at your birth. I promise you it will be one of the best gifts you could possibly ever give yourself.”

As the contractions came and increased with intensity and frequency, we met Stephanie at the hospital
in the late morning. My labor moved quickly for a new mom and before I knew it, I found myself feeling and saying “I don’t think I can do this.” No judgment was passed nor even a “You can do this, you don’t
need any medications,” which were the words I was expecting to hear. In hindsight, these words would
have been a potential burden and Stephanie knew that. Speaking those words, if then followed by my
decision to elect pain alleviation, would have been passing judgment, like “Really lady, you wanted a
natural birth, can’t you handle it?!” Instead her words (I’m sure I’m paraphrasing a bit) were, “What do
you think?’ and ‘What is it that you need?” And frankly, maybe her words held less significance, less
weight, somewhat blurred by the pain of labor. What was of extreme significance were her eyes. When
I looked into her eyes, potentially saying in desperation for the tenth time, “I don’t think I can do this,”
her eyes screamed, “Like hell you can’t, you’ve got this!” Those eyes, that reassurance, that sense of
calm, that support, I will forever be grateful to Stephanie. And, while expressing my gratitude for
Stephanie, I do not mean to undermine or ignore the incredible support of the others in our delivery
room. Ryan was phenomenal; surpassing any expectations I may have held. He was extremely involved,
supportive and loving. I’ve also told numerous people how we hit the nurse jackpot and I was absolutely
amazed with their support and assistance. And, with Stephanie at the helm, it all came together. Her
interactions with my partner and the nurses, her suggestions for different laboring positions, her relentless persistence in applying pressure to my spine and hips to alleviate my back labor pains, briefly allowing me between contractions to wonder if her obviously strong, but slender arms might just give way, her encouragement to keep pushing and to block out everything else….I was extremely fortunate. My birth plan did go as planned. And while others’ birth plans may not go as planned due to a turn of events out of their control, please do ensure this part of your plan, a plan to have a doula present at your birth. I promise you it will be one of the best gifts you could possibly ever give yourself.”