As a young woman, I could have done any number of things and been happy. I enjoyed meeting new people, seeing new places, learning new things. I graduated from college with a major in German and a minor in French. I worked as a travel agent for ten years and loved it. In my mid-twenties I met and married my husband. We were living happily-ever-after, but had no children. About the time we thought we should get things checked out (three years!), we found I was pregnant. Thanks to my two older sisters I had loads of information – books, articles, even a couple of videos. (Yes, this was the dark ages before the internet.)
We moved twice during that pregnancy (no stress!). I arrived in the Chicago area seven months pregnant and no idea where to start looking for a doctor. The yellow pages were a never-ending list of faceless names. Eventually I found HomeFirst health care. I liked the fact that the doctors actually took the time to talk to my husband and I. They expected us to think and have opinions. I didn’t know it at the time, but these folks practiced family-centered care. We partnered with them in the decision-making process.
I had a wonderful experience with that birth. As I talked to other women, I realized how exceptional my story was. I didn’t have a war story – no terrible things happened, no injuries to slow me down, no difficult people to deal with. I won’t say that the actual birth was easy – it’s hard work under the best of circumstances – but I was supported and cared for. There were no unnecessary interventions.
That’s when the desire hit me. I needed to know enough to teach other women so that they could have the kind of experience I had. I joined the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) and started on the road to become a childbirth educator. We moved to Denver in 1991 and I was certified in 1993. Occasionally when I taught classes a couple would ask me to accompany them to the hospital. So when ICEA offered doula certification, I signed up and received that certification in 1997.
(I need to include a few more details here. While in the Denver area I had my fourth child. He was born with many severe allergies. The first one we noticed when he was only one week of age. He could not wear synthetic fibers. They gave him hayfever-like symptoms – runny nose, watery eyes, congestion. Soon after that we discovered that any kind of potpourri or perfume was irritating him. As he grew the list of foods and environmental allergens grew with him. He was covered head to toe with eczema – and not just dry scaly skin, but open oozing sores. Various physicians suggested Benadryl and hydrocortisone. I used those when necessary, but I knew there had to be more to the story. It was at a Women’s Health Symposium in Denver that I met the answer to my prayers – a nutritional consultant with a PhD in biochemistry. I won’t go into more detail here, but I include this information because it’s a special area of interest for me. If you have a family history of allergy, if you think your child is allergic to your milk, if your child has a chronic health issue that you think might be allergy related – I encourage you to investigate and to research. Many conditions can be helped with proper nutrition. It is not a cure-all, but appropriate foods and nutrition might make a difference. It’s worth a try. My son today is an active, healthy young man. He still has allergies, but they are well-controlled.)
My desire to learn and help others didn’t stop. I attended a week-long seminar at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, Washington to learn breastfeeding basics. I received my RN at Vanderbilt University in 2005. In 2011 I became an ICEA Approved Trainer (IAT), training doulas and childbirth educators for ICEA. From 2013-2015 I served as the secretary on the board of directors for ICEA. I continue to work with ICEA as the Doula Program Chair.