Updated: Jul 6, 2022
Imagine a 19-year-old me sitting in the hospital. I just heard the news...
"Ummm your pregnancy test came back positive". The nurse said looking at me in surprise.
"What?" I responded in equal surprise.
I had come to the hospital for an entirely different reason and was not expecting this. I had both nervousness and excitement bubbling in my belly as I breathlessly called my then-boyfriend and told him we were expecting. He was thousands of miles away doing active duty in the military and I was completely cut off from my own family. I was alone and recently homeless...
Despite all this, I was excited to grow this little one. I had no idea how to care for a baby or change a diaper but I knew I would learn and that despite my circumstances I would figure it out for the little baby growing inside me.
Fast forward 9 months someone had reached out to the pregnancy home for homeless women that I was staying at. She was a doula. She wanted to support one of the pregnant moms in the pregnancy home. I wanted a vaginal delivery as natural as possible and I had vaguely heard about doulas probably through one of the books (my favorite book at the time was Do chocolate lovers have sweeter babies?) I had read. I found pregnancy so fascinating and cool and I read quite a few pregnancy books including What to expect When you're Expecting.
I still didn't know what to expect and I couldn't ask my mom cause my mom and the rest of my family had cut me off completely. I literally had to just figure it out. I was hoping this doula could support me in my goal.
I know what you are thinking: She attended my birth, I had a beautiful natural vaginal delivery and it was such an amazing experience and I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a doula. Right?
Actually... she never came. She wasn't able to or didn't show up, I can't remember the details but she wasn't there.
That was just my first experience with doulas.
What brought me here and grew my passion to do this work and what was the first building block: It was being alone and having to figure out everything by myself. The pregnancy home showed me that we women need a village of support. We need support. Motherhood and Pregnancy should not be done alone.
The other part of this story that I now realized started the second building block was that had almost no connection with my daughter when she was born. I was surprised. I thought I was supposed to feel this instant love with my daughter and then later I had trouble breastfeeding. That was not what I thought it was supposed to be like.
Hindsight 20/20 I didn't have anyone to tell me to keep doing skin-to-skin with her, that doing that would help me bond with her. I didn't know that the feelings I had were normal or that having a lot of unnecessary interventions at birth could also affect bonding with your baby and even breastfeeding.
I know this now. Now I know what to do if a birth falls short of mom's hopes, and how to protect the bonding moments as a Kangaroula. I am able to assist and evaluate breastfeeding as a Certified Lactation Counselor. I know now how to present more options as a doula and I am aware of subtle postpartum anxiety and depression signs as a postpartum doula.
I do this work because I don't want a mother to feel alone or to feel like she didn't have an option. I do this work because I know how hard it can be to breastfeed, to have an unexpected Cesarean, to have a successful VBAC, and to watch your premature baby in a plastic warmer. I know, I understand, and I want to help.
This is a passion born from both experience and knowledge. That is what Fruit of the Womb Perinatal Services was born from.
Watch my story covered by the Local News in Cleveland Ohio: Mother of 5 who was once homeless now helps low-income moms-to-be
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