I wanted to be a professional doula but I sat on the idea for about 10 years before I really pursued it full-time. One obstacle was having two small children. I went to a couple of births when they were little and it was really challenging being on-call with little ones. But that wasn't the only reason I wasn't ready to do it.
My other challenge was that I didn't know if I could do it with a disability. Stuttering may not seem like a disability, and its a tricky one because you can't always see it and most people might not see it as a disability. But look it up, it is.
So of course my stutter gets more challenging when I'm tired, rushed and on W's, M's and D's. Just perfect when I want to work with women and mothers as a doula! Oy, does God have a sense of humor or what?! So I thought that I just couldn't do it. That I would just keep this passion quiet and accept where I was. I had a great job in an office. I did stutter there but its no rush so no worries. I'm not embarrassed by it at all, it just seemed like too much to have in the high stress situation of birth where communication is key. And I did work in communications in my office job anyway, how ironic.
Then comes summer 2010, and my aunt Marcy, who is a homebirth midwife, calls me up and invites me to go to births with her as her assistant. I was hooked immediately and I knew I had to face this head on to get myself where I wanted and needed to be. I started researching speech therapy. I had had it for 8 years as a kid, it helped somewhat, well, a lot. I can get by now. But I felt it was time to polish it up and get rid of the these last bits so that I could be a doula. I found some options but they were all really really expensive. So then, after seeing so many homebirths, I considered maybe I can find home-speech therapy.
I looked up a bunch of stuttering self-help books in-between my studies for my doula certification I had started working on at the same time. It was hard to do so much reading but I really wanted it done in time. I found this really great book that had me laughing to tears. It described the stutter's mind so well, it was me, it was hilarious and so true. It explained that stutters see words as three dimensional objects. And I'm like, They ARE three dimensional objects! And then the stutter tries to push them out and then they activate the pushing reflex with closes the throat and that does not work because words are not 3-D objects. Wow, a tie in to pushing that I was just reading about from my doula certification reading list as well. The book explains the anatomy of pushing in great detail to try and explain the physiology of stuttering and pushing out words, so that we don't do that. It was great to read an in-depth analysis of pushing, both for speaking and for births. The book also has exercises to remember to not push, to do the opposite of push. But the real work is to rework the mind to really believe that words are not 3-D. Words are only a combo of breathing and mouth movements. This is really hard for me to accept, while I know it intellectually, I never realized before reading this that I was treating words as three dimensional. So all these exercises are very helpful, when I do them, like exercises always are.
The other important piece of advice this book gave me was that it said, don't wait to do what you want to do waiting for your stutter to go away first. Do what you want to do, work on it, stutter if you have to, but don't shy away from life. And it was such an ah-ha moment. Yes, I'm just going to have to jump in, imperfections and all. Now.
Its true for so many things in life. You don't have to wait for perfect. You just have to jump into life, challenges and all, and live. And I bring this to your birth. Yes as a mother who gave birth twice, and a doula who has been to many births, but also as a person with a life-long struggle of finding what I needed to have the life I wanted to have. I bring an in-depth understanding of feeling blocked. Stuck. Of feeling judged. So like labor! Of not believing or knowing that the tools to get to where you want to be are within you. I have learned how to come from having a disability, and redefining it into a different ability. I have to work with what I have and make it work well. A MacGyver intuition and skill set has actually been a great asset to my doula work.
So if you are feeling weak, or scared, intimidated, or maybe pure confidence coming into this birth, I'm here to support you. I'm here to help you find what you need inside yourself and from the support team around you. I have your back, front and sides and I am here to support you. And you don't need any prerequisites. You can find yourself amidst those contractions and may think you're not strong enough or the right type or whatever. But you are. If you are a woman, you are the right type to deliver a baby. That's all you need. You.
So now coming up on my 160th birth, I'm feeling so very grateful. I know I have helped so many women and their families, and shared and received soooo much love its amazing. I am living the life I always wanted. And you know what, some days I still stutter. And that's ok. I still talk to the doctors, the midwives, the nurses, and of course my clients and their families and its just not a problem. It's me. And its OK, we're all OK, just the way we are.
Also on this note, I love this piece from Ted Talks from a differently abled woman, and I really like that term, differently abled. I find her inspiring and I like to remind myself if I ever start feeling too challenged to look for the advantages instead of the disadvantages of our lives.