There has been something on my heart lately. I have been thinking a lot about my philosophy towards birth and loss and how that affects the way I support and hold space with families. Lately I have seen a lot of birth support and baby loss support professionals insisting on their expertise. I have seen some share photos of babies, some living, and some already sleeping in Heaven, on personal social media and blogs; and to be honest, it bothers me a bit.
You see, I am expert. I am a professional. I am certified in Psychological First Aid (trauma triage), Grief and Loss, and as a birth doula and bereavement doula. I have been introduced as the "Foremost Expert on Pregnancy Loss in the ProLife Movement." So yes, I am an expert in grief - my own grief. I am an expert in grief as a psychological, emotional, and physical process. But I am not an expert in your grief, nor should I try to be. I can help you understand your grief. I can walk with you as you navigate it. I can offer perspective and, when asked, advice and suggestions. I can supply resources. I can offer options - always options. I can be on the look out for any complications in your grieving process and help you find the right healing resources and, if needed, professional assistance. I can explain to you what certain steps on the path to healing look like. I can teach you the steps of healing. I cannot however, I should not, ever assume that I know better than you do how you need to walk that path or the pace at which you go; because in order to heal, you must become your own expert. You must fully own your grief, and know that you can and learn how to live with it. To heal. And you can, and you will. I promise. My hope for you is that when some time has passed and you look back on the time of your loss, you say "I did that. I survived that. I'm OK." And be proud of yourself for that, not proud of me. It isn't about me.
Being a doula is about serving. It is about empowering and equipping mothers and families and not taking credit for their accomplishments. That is why I never share pictures of babies I have been privileged to help see earth side. Your baby is not my trophy. Your baby is not a notch in my belt. Your baby is not my accomplishment. Your baby's story is not mine to tell.
One of my favorite things to do after I attend a happy birth is to write up the Birth Story for the family. I tell the story based off my notes and observations. I articulate how I see the mother: Brave. Strong. Determined. Serene. Fierce. Surrendered. Euphoric. Tranquil. I do not include myself in the birth story. Why? You ask? Isn't that bad for business? Probably. But to me, it is also disingenuous. I am there to help mother and baby do what they are already capable of doing. I am there to remind mama how amazing she is and how perfectly made her body is - to be able to do this thing called birth. Sure, I can help her move in certain ways, ways that help baby come down and turn. I know where to put my hands to help ease pain and discomfort. I know how to read her emotions and sounds. I have oils and a rebozo and tricks and trinkets in my trusty bag to help make mama more comfortable as she works so hard- harder than me. I am not the one giving birth! I get drinks and snacks for dad and show him how to hold the mother of his baby. How to massage. Where to put his hands so he can ease her discomfort. I help mama pray. Breathe. Be. But I don't do it for her. This is her journey. Her moment. Her birth. And when she is done. When baby is in her arms and she is tucked in bed snuggling and smelling that sweet baby head, I want her to say "I did it." And I will whisper, "Yes, beautiful mama, you did." And slowly fade away, because, as I said. It's not about me.