I Have Been a Doula My Whole Life

I have been a Doula my entire life, and perhaps you have been too.

I learned this concept at Day 1 of my three day DONA Birth Doula Training presented by Bini Birth and led by the miraculous Ana Paula Markel.  I cannot say enough about Ana Paula- I want to glue myself to her so that I can listen to her speak forever.  She has changed my world in the very best way and I know that being a Doula is just want I am supposed to be doing right now.

Having a sense of purpose is not something I am used to, but it is that same feeling that led me to explore Doula life a few short months ago, and I am feeling so much gratitude for this strange path.

This past December, Buck and I went home for the holidays and had a wonderful time.  We saw family and friends, ate too much food, and did a lot of wedding planning with my sister Amy and her fiance Tommy.  Amy and Tommy have been together since high school and are set to get married this June.  I flew back to LA on New Years Eve, never imagining I would be back in Chicago in five short days.

On January 4th, Tommy left for work like every other day (he is an Actuary for a large insurance company), and on his way to the car, he dropped their adorable save the date cards in the mail (see adorable photo below).  Less than a mile from their apartment, Tommy was making a left turn when a 28,000 pound construction truck hit the passenger’s side of his car, crushing it so far in that Tommy hit his head on the passenger side door upon impact.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was admitted into the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, sedated, intubated, and a pressure monitor was inserted into his head to track the swelling and small amount of blood on his brain.  If you’ve never seen a person in this condition, let me tell you: it is a sobering experience.  If you love this person, it is a complicated experience.  One part of me wanted to rip all of the tubes and wires off of him because it was so unnatural, but knowing these machines were keeping Tommy alive made me want to hug the people who invented them.  And those feelings surfaced in alternating rapid succession for the three weeks he was strapped to them.

Sometimes when I think about this event, and I think about it everyday, I cannot believe it happened.  When I got back to Chicago January 5th, I felt like I was stepping into a dream…a bad one where the nicest kids you know are going through something horrible…that you can’t change…or fix…or erase. And I am a “fixer” and a “doer,” but in those moments, there is no doing- only being.

I didn’t know it at that time, but I became a Doula for Amy and Tommy in that moment.  Spending the month of January sleeping in the hospital waiting room, guarding my sister like a precious jewel, taking shifts sitting in the room listening to Tommy’s monitors whir and beep, eating food that tasted like cardboard, finding moments to laugh and cry and laugh again- all these events laid a path that led me to the place I am today.

I am happy to report that Tommy has made a miraculous recovery.  He is back at work, driving again, fully active, and if you didn’t know he’d been in an accident, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him.  He doesn’t feel 100% like himself, and he probably won’t for a few more months, but he’s recovering and we are blessed.

Toward the end of January, as Tommy was recovering, we realized that he needed to get into a rehabilitation program and there was a spot open at the renowned Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  I will spare you the details, but they were some of the most stressful and exhilarating days of my life.  From that experience I discovered why I was put on this earth: to give voice and comfort to those who don’t have it.  I learned a lot about patient advocacy and the highs and lows of the hospital system.  Once he finally arrived at RIC, I felt so proud, and I slept for the first time in a month.

Around that same time, Angela had baby Ilyse and I remember she asked me if I had ever considered becoming a Doula.  She had one at her birth and she said she could see me doing it.  At the time, I didn’t know what a Doula did, so I muttered something about not wanting to “stick people with needles or handle a lot of poop.”  I have nurse friends- I know what they do (ie: touch a lot of poop).

I returned back to LA and I remember looking out the window of the plane as it touched down and I said aloud, “What do I do now?”  While I wasn’t happy being home because of the accident, taking care of my sister and Tommy was the most focused and clear I had been in a long time.  I felt completely in my element caring for people, and being back in LA where I am supposed to be pursuing a career as an Actress, I couldn’t see how to reconcile this other side (and I still struggle with this).

When the Doula option resurfaced, I did the research and things began to take shape.  I can feel shifts happening and there is a lot of joy in my life.  No, life is not butterflies and roses everyday, and I do feel lost occasionally, but being in Ana Paula’s class was bliss.  All weekend I kept thinking, “THIS is where I am supposed to be.”

I know this post is cheesy, but I need to express my deep gratitude for the unexpected turn of events in life that unveil so much about who we are and where we are supposed to go.

The photo used for their Save the Date. How beautiful they are!

You can see the rest of their beautiful photos at Angela Renee’s website here.

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May 23, 2011. Uncategorized.

6 Comments

  1. Katie replied:

    Lovely post – not cheesy! I am excited to hear more about your journey!

  2. Angela Renee replied:

    you are one of the most caring people i know and a true giver. i know you will be an amazing doula. xo, A

  3. Jean Lee replied:

    Can’t wait for you to be our doula on the big day! Thanks!!!

  4. amy replied:

    i thought the food was pretty good….

    • Kate replied:

      You are right- I have had worse hospital food. And they did offer veggie burgers…okay, I retract the cardboard comment! =)

  5. Paulynn replied:

    Katy, Its a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing it. I will be in touch very soon! Paulynn

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