“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement not your greatest fear.” ~ Jane Weideman
Thank you for visiting my site. Here you will find a little more about me personally, why I chose to become a doula, and my own experiences with birth. I hope after reading you become inspired and empowered to seek the birth you desire and deserve. You're already on the right steps towards that if you are looking at having a birth doula assist you. I truly hope to have the opportunity to speak with you. ~Dawne
I have always been the person who would take care of my friends, stray animals, even complete strangers. I'm a born care-taker and nurturer. I never would have imagined I would end up in a birth profession, birth scared me. You see, all I knew about birth was that "it" paralyzed my mother (not true, but it was my perception). My mother was indeed paralyzed after having delivered me, but it wasn't her labor or my birth that caused it. Instead, she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and the stress of her labor with me had triggered the latent disease to come out. All I knew when I was younger was that her paralysis was centered around my birth. You could see how this might have caused me to fear birth just a bit.
I never thought I would have children, and then one day, I met the person whom I saw that future with and knew I would have to stand in front of that fear. In April 2010, (my husband's birthday actually) we found out we were expecting our first child and we did what every newly expectant parents do...we Googled, WebMD'd, sought out prenatal yoga classes, childbirth education classes and finally, hired a "doula." Having no family to rely on to help guide us through the childbirth process, I knew I wanted someone to lean on if I were to have the unmediated birth that I envisioned. For a split second we considered having our child at home, but the drama that surrounded my own birth dictated that I would feel more comfortable in a hospital setting.
Hiring a doula for our birth was the single most important thing that we did. Our doula was compassionate, knowledgeable and the maternal figure that I needed to feel comfortable and have a beautiful birth. Unfortunately, that birth was not intended to be unmedicated. My fear stood in the way of my surrendering to the experience, and although I opted for the medial birth (epidural) I had a the birth that I needed, and it was beautiful. It taught me to be in the present, and more importantly that birth was the beginning of my calling to be a doula.
I was so inspired by the services of my doula that I knew I would return this gift to other women, and when my son turned one in, 2011, I pursued my birth doula training. I am so blessed to have been DONA trained through the inspiring Ana Paula Markel at BINI Birth, in Sherman Oaks, CA.
After my training I spent a year volunteering with The Pasadena Department of Public Health in the Black Infant Health program providing pro-bono doula support for low income families. I am also a volunteer doula with Harvest Home, a shelter for pregnant women and children.
In April of 2013 I became certified by DONA International.
It's been just over a year since our daughter was born at home, and I've been eagerly waiting to tell her story. In 2016 we relocated from Los Angeles to be closer to my family so the children could know their grandparents and extended family. It wasn't soon after our move that we found out we were expecting another child! I had hoped we would have another, but LA living wasn't going to afford us that privilege, but The Midwest sure could. I interviewed a couple of doulas and learned about a practice about 40 minutes north of us who had a really wonderful midwife. We met, and she was great, however, the hospital was NOT on board with my "Elderly" status and they were already starting to heavily manage my pregnancy and I knew I was not going to have the birth that I wanted for who would likely be my final child. My husband was fully supportive of my desire to have a homebirth after how our second birth was handled. We interviewed a couple of local midwives and fell IN LOVE with them. OK, that's an under-statement. Words do not express who I felt about each and every one of them. I received exceptional prenatal care that was holistic. They talked to us,wanted to get to know us,wanted to help us address any fears. My biggest fear which surfaced was what happens if our daughter is breech? Would I still attempt a home birth knowing a transfer is almost a half hour away? I reached deep into my doula toolbox and practiced my HypnoBabies hypnosis daily, always coming back to fear release; I journaled; I meditated and visualized the birth, up to and including knowing it would be snowing (Ok, its Janauary in Wisconsin, it probably would be snowing); I thought for sure she would come on 17th, like her brothers, and if not then, why not my grandfather's birthday. I religiously practiced my Spinning Babies techniques, saw amazing care from two great chiropractors, even visited my birth colleague and friend the amazing Dr. Elliot Berlin in LA. During that visit our little girl flipped head down. We were all set to go. Now we just needed her to decide she was ready.
Late January, on my grandfather's birthday, I noticed that I was a little quieter, that I didn't have much of an appetite, and I had a little cramping. I went out to lunch with a good friend and quickly started to tie up homebirth loose ends (like filling out a transfer sheet -- I refused to do so, after all of this, we were having our daughter at home!) I got home with the last of our supplies and started to make "Taco Tuesday" dinner and that's when I had a small trickle. I called our midwives and let them know I would let them know in the evening how I felt, nothing terrible happening. Just camps. A half hour later I had another release of meconium stained fluid and called our midwives, and doula, worried that this would now mean we would have to transfer. My husband had just gotten back from his run and showered so I told him to go get Stanley just incase. Good thing he did. He left and I put on my fear release tracks and our labor was off to the races. I remember playing hide and seek with dinosaur bones with Oliver and pausing between contractions to manage them. One by one our birth team arrived. I remember telling Oliver that his sister was going to be here soon and "Remember those nice ladies and midwives who you met? When they get here it is OK to let them in and you can show them to the bedroom where I will be. My doula arrived first, and then the midwife apprentice, both of which I greeted between contractions so happy to see them. I felt a need to bear down and just felt our daughter getting lower and lower and felt like I couldn't control the urge to push.I wasn't pushing,she was guiding her self out. My midwife came, then my husband and Stanley, and both boys were in the bedroom with us for a short moment. The nurturing that I was receiving from these amazing women still marvels me. They respected my space, didn't tell me what to do, supported me (literally, thank you Kristy for supporting my body weight). The last person to arrive was my soul sister Kim, I looked at her and said, "Oh good,I can have my baby now." and when Ophelia was ready to be born she emerged. She was guided out by our midwife because her shoulder was stuck, but other than that,I reached down and received our daughter.
After just over an hour from when my second water released, our daughter was in my arms. Her brothers looked over her in total awe. We rested as a family of five in our own bed which I will always remember how comforting it was to never be separated from our boys. Everything I had hoped our last birth experience would be was manifested, and I am exceptionally gratful to all that helped bring our sweet daughter earth side.
Rest was not in my cards! I was too anxious and excited and well, within a half of an hour my contractions became very strong and close together. While my husband jumped in the shower, I managed my contractions by walking around the bedroom, more like pacing, bouncing on the birth ball (which I quickly found I did NOT like) and then settled in on the toilet. Yes, I managed my labor on the toilet, and to be quite honest, it was the most comfortable supported squatting position I could find, and with the uncomfortableness of the water trickling down my legs still it made me feel more "secure". By 1AM I had had enough and told my husband to call our doula. She arrived and confirmed that my contractions were very strong and coming close together and we were off to the hospital.
At the hospital triage assessment they said I was 5cm dilated, 90% effaced and -1. I labored more in bed (they wouldn't let me get up because my water had broken) for a couple of hours, but by 5am I still showed little progression (6cm and moved down a station to 0) and was not only mentally exhausted by not being able to move instinctually like I wanted too, but physically exhausted from not having rested the day prior. My attempts to have an unmedicated birth were in the past....I requested the epidural.
I struggled with my decision, and apologized to my doula, baby, and husband because I felt like I "failed" them all. In reality, getting the epidural was the best thing I could have done. I immediately had my personality back, felt at ease and was able to get rest and was fully dilated and ready to push and in a few short hours I was holding my beautiful son for the first time. It was love at first sight!
I struggled with lactation issues and had a mild case of the "baby blues" when we brought Oliver home because I felt so isolated. I felt as if I were coming unhinged, it was then that our Childbirth Educator told me about the Mommy & Me groups at Bini Birth with the beautiful and amazing Nancy Beyda and Rachel Myers. I quickly found I was NOT alone and fully embraced motherhood and my new life.
Oliver's Birth Story
I had a relatively uncomplicated pregnancy with my first child. Having been an avid marathoner, I continued to run throughout my pregnancy and even completed two half marathons, the final one being at 36 weeks pregnant (even finished under three hours!) Needless to say, because this was my first pregnancy, I was getting pretty anxious and excited and really wanted to meet my lil one. At my 36 week appointment my doctor started performing the vaginal examinations. I was a little less than disheartened each time when I would hear "no dilation" or "a little soft", etc. It wasn't until after my 38th week that my cervix started to show signs of being "ripe". I was almost 2cm dilated and 80% effaced and "low". I had read that stripping membranes could help jump start my labor, so I requested that my OB strip them. This was way more uncomfortable than I had imagined it would be! It didn't seem to help.
My husband and I went out to dinner at a pretty famous restaurant restaurant for inducing pregnant mamas with "The Salad", and of course ordered one. That was at 8'oclock. We went home and watched a movie and I went to bed around 10PM. As I got into bed I felt a little dribble of water down my legs. It wasn't the big "gush" that I thought my water breaking would be, so I didn't think it was my water breaking, but then I got up to go to the bathroom (an urge I couldn't surpress) and more water trickled down my legs. I called down to my husband and told him I thought my water had broken. We called our doula and she confirmed, it sounded like my water. She told me to get some rest and be in contact with her in the morning.
Stanley's Birth Story
My second pregnancy was completely different from the first. This time I had mild complications with my heart and was unable to keep running or as active as I had been with the first one. After several vasovagal syncopic episodes (blacking out), I was restricted to not performing any cardio work more strenuous than a walk. To be honest, just keeping up with my toddler felt like all the workout I needed.
Having now been fully emersed in the birth community and worked with several doctors, I found a new doctor whom I really trusted and bonded with and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him throughout my pregnancy. We did entertain the thought of having a home birth, but again, we just felt more comfortable in a hospital setting. The hospital that my OB works at is notorious for being "difficult" so I knew I would have challenges, but I had faith that both with my knowledge, my OB's backing and good support from my doula and husband I could have the birth I wanted, the coveted "unmedicated" birth. I swear sometimes I think saying "unmedicated" birth in a hospital setting it feels like you are chasing a unicorn, but it does exist.
At 36 weeks my doctor asked if I wanted to be examined (vaginally) and I declined. Yes, you can decline to be examined if you do not want to know! Many doctors won't tell you that, but it is your right to chose to say yes or no. I didn't feel like anything was happening so we declined. I kept declining at each appointment, actually he stopped asking me, and at again, three days before my due date my water ruptured.
My husband and I were reading Ollie his bedtime stories when he suddenly got up, walked over to me, put his hand on my belly and then kissed it and said, "Goodbye mama's big belly, goodbye." We were in awe. He never wanted anything to do with my big pregnant belly, but we had been reading him stories about being a big brother every night since finding out. Somehow, I guess he and the baby were in communication because he knew. An hour later around 7:30PM, my water broke. I posted to all my family, "My son went to bed an only child tonight, but will wake up a big brother tomorrow. How do I know? He just told me so." It is a memory that still gives me goose-bumps.
I managed my contractions at home by walking, swaying, moaning and vocalizing and just generally riding the surges and enjoying them. By midnight, my contractions were about two minutes apart and despite feeling really good I notified my doula that we were heading to the hospital.
Once we got to the hospital and they found out my water had ruptured they restricted me from doing EVERYTHING. I felt defeated and requested to call my doctor, but they declined. This is why every woman needs and deserves a doula!! Having felt defeated, despite the surges not being "terrible", I requested an epidural. I felt like they weren't going to let me labor the way I wanted to, then I would just get the epidural. My husband encouraged me to wait for our doula to arrive to make the decision. After our doula arrived she connected with me, had me connect with the baby and feel the surges as progress. She made the room more comfortable and encouraged me to listen to music. I then remembered I had my HypnoBabies CDs that I had been listening to and requested those to be turned on. With the new environment I was quickly able to turn inside and focus on the progress of my surges and an hour later we were ready to push and meet my son/daughter.