Twyla and Zoey

I was raised on the story of my birth. Ok, that's not true. I was raised on clean mountain air, homegrown veggies and meat, and ponies. On my birthday, and every time someone had a baby, or we saw a pregnant woman, my mother told my birth story.

The first snow of the year had fallen. Local horses that ran loose, broke into our barn. My father was out in the snow fixing the broken fences when my mother went into labor. My mother was delighted that my birth was finally happening. There was a three hour drive to the Reservation hospital on an unpaved road. Mine was the first Lamaze birth at the tiny rural hospital. Apparently another baby was born that night and my mother could hear the doctor and nurse coaching the birthing mother with Lamaze. I never tired of hearing my birth story. It taught me that birth is a happy and wondrous thing, and that it isn’t something to fear.

In 2004 a friend invited me to attend the birth of her second child. The birth was amazing. My friend was amazing. The midwife said and did things completely outside of my ideas of what was possible. I was surprised at how little support my friend received from the nurses, and I never stopped thinking about the roles of the people in that delivery room.

When I myself was pregnant and interviewing doulas, I always asked them why they were doulas. I was asking partly as a prospective client, and partly out of interest in how being a doula worked as a profession. I loved the idea of these trained women giving support no hospital staff can provide. I started reading about becoming a doula.

Then one day, while at the playground with my daughter, I got a call from my doctor. She told me that the blemish on my face, which she had assured me was a cyst, was actually cancer. I would be having surgery for removal and reconstruction in the next few days. I've had bad experiences with general anesthesia, and try to avoid it. In that moment I was terrified. My daughter was running on the grass and turned towards me. Seeing her face, I thought “I need more time with her. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get through this. And I am going to be a doula.”

I had the surgery, and later I had six weeks of radiation therapy. One week after finishing radiation I started my doula training with Felicia Roche. By the end of the training I knew I'd made the right choice.

I love birth. I love helping a woman through one contraction at a time. I love seeing how incredibly strong women are. I love seeing a new father's face light up when he meets his baby. I love being part of, and helping make possible, the joyful birth that every family deserves.