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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a doula and I have never birthed my own child. I have 4 children who were left to me by an indifferent mother...but birth I have never experienced. This has not been a problem with doing labor support and I do love my "work". But being a doula keeps pregnancy, birth and babies in front of my eyes all day, every day. I worked so hard to get certified and now I am thinking maybe I should put this dream to rest because it is proving to be very painful emotionally. I want to be a doula and not for the reasons people think...it is not a matter of trying to be in on something I cannot have myself. But, at the same time, it is hard to be constantly thinking of birth and not able to concieve. Has anyone been in this boat? Any thoughts on this? I don't think that my doulaing has been damaged in any way by this...but personally, how do I get around this road block?
 

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This is not exactly your situation, because I was able to conceive my children. But they were both born by cesarean and I have never labored. I'm a damn good L&D nurse and I think I'll be a good midwife, but it can be painful to work with laboring women and and know that I will not ever labor.<br><br>
This is not on a par with infertility, because I've also dealt with that and it is incredibly painful. But for me the pain of working with laboring women decreased as time went by, and the benefits of it outweighed the negatives.
 

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This isn't exactly the same because I didn't experience infertility until I was trying to have my 8th, so this is different but I figured I would add my input. When I had my first kids I wasn't a doula and only became a doula when my 7th child was 2 yrs old. Then several years later I decided that our family wasn't complete and thought for sure I would get pregnant rather quickly and was shocked to find out that wasn't going to happen for us. I was very hurt by the whole thing especially when I was working with teens who didn't even want their babies - that was rough on me emotionally. There were times I felt like I wasn't sure I wanted to continue on if I couldn't get pregnant because seeing the babies being born hurt me, but the more I thought about it the more I realized I couldn't leave the work either because I truly believe that what I was doing was making a difference in the lives of these families and so that in some small way I was helping to impact the future of the babies as well. I always believed that having a good start makes a world of difference in how someone mothers, so for me I felt like I was really making a difference.<br><br>
I will admit that I am kind of going through something similar right now - having self doubt and worries because when I finally did conceive my last child I ended up having a birth that was so less then ideal. It was truly a doula's nightmare with the exception of me avoiding a cesarean everything else fell apart and it left me feeling like such a failure (induction due to bleeding, severe decels, pain that I just couldn't get a handle on which ended up with me taking Stadol and an epidural and in the end manual dilation of my cervix to get my baby out as quickly as possible without going for a cesarean). It left me questioning a lot of things and it has been hard coming to terms with how that birth went and how I will be able to help mothers with their births - my dd is almost 3 months old and I am back on call starting this weekend, so if I get called in I guess I will have to see how it goes. So although not the same as what you are going through it is still something that has left me questioning a lot in life too <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Hugs to you!!!! I hope you are able to find the answers through lots of soul searching.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">Your feelings are not uncommon.<br>
This work brings up stuff for many women, for all different reasons as you see. Plus many of us love the work because it does fill our heart.<br><br>
A good doula friend is a divorced single mom, she wants to be married or in a healthy relationship so badly she frequently comes home from doula jobs overwhelmed and wrought with jealousy when she meets those good husbands.<br><br>
Take a break, or maybe with some counseling you can figure out how to re-frame the experience of being with other women at birth, so it can be an emotionally fulfilling healthy experience for you and you can continue to enjoy the process of birth through helping.
 

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I'm surprised no one shared, or chimed in. Women come to this work with all types of healing already done or needed.<br><br>
Have you read this by the Navel Glazing Midwife,<br><a href="http://observantmidwife.blogspot.com/2008/02/gray-grey-messenger-recovery.html" target="_blank">"The Grey,Gray Messenger: Recovery"</a> I believe it is apropos to many women in the birth community, and this does include women who are feeling traumatized by infertility.
 

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Hi,<br>
Only you can decide if the benefits, (emotional, professional and financial) out weight the feelings you are describing in your post.<br><br>
Maybe a break from birth work might clarify what feels good to you, and what you are able to do...<br><br>
I have never been one to believe one needed to birth children to be a good doula, but if attending births tugs on your heartstrings in a way that make you sad, on a consistent basis, then it might feel better to step back!<br><br>
You may find that you have the same feelings and thoughts, even if you are not doing birth work, because this might just be a significant issue in your world and a counselor/therapist may help clarify and be a good sounding board.<br><br>
Gentle hugs as you find your way!<br><br>
Sharon
 

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I can only offer hugs and hope that just sharing here may have helped you in some way
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
THANK you to all of you, it has been helpful to give myself the option of quitting. But I realize now the problem is me, not the births. I love the births...I am up all the next day without any problem...and sleep like a dream for like 20 hours when I am finally able to come down. It is the constant thinking about birth related things...every conversation turns there for me...people ask me questions, I get emails and phone calls and I research quite a bit. I guess I just get bogged down sometimes..but I wouldn't trade the work, I realize that now. Being a doula is so much in my blood that I knew I was supposed to do it as soon as I first heard what a doula does...it was like, "oh, this is what I've been looking for..." I'll make it. Thanks again...this has been helpful.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

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It's sounds as if it's a way to enjoy the ritual of pregnancy and birth, by living vicariously though others. That's Not a bad thing, it could be very healing if you keep it in perspective.<br><br>
We all know labor, ppdoulas, midwifes and OB's who choose to not have children or have not gotten pregnant and need to be around birth.<br>
I felt this way after I was finished having children, I thrive professionally on the excitement and happiness clients have surrounding pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and becoming a family.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>gentlehandsdoula</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12391799"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I am a doula and I have never birthed my own child. I have 4 children who were left to me by an indifferent mother...but birth I have never experienced. This has not been a problem with doing labor support and I do love my "work". But being a doula keeps pregnancy, birth and babies in front of my eyes all day, every day. I worked so hard to get certified and now I am thinking maybe I should put this dream to rest because it is proving to be very painful emotionally. I want to be a doula and not for the reasons people think...it is not a matter of trying to be in on something I cannot have myself. But, at the same time, it is hard to be constantly thinking of birth and not able to concieve. Has anyone been in this boat? Any thoughts on this? I don't think that my doulaing has been damaged in any way by this...but personally, how do I get around this road block?</div>
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Ohhhh!!!!!! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> I"m a doula and I've had two c sections, no vaginal births. (Not for lack of trying). If you love it and you're good at it, don't put it to rest! I've struggled thinking no one would take me seriously if I can't even birth my own children. Now I don't feel sorry for myself anymore. Some people try and still don't get vaginal births, some people never have children. Doesn't mean your not damn good at what you do and worthwhile to the community. Have you ever had any issues with your clients? My guess is no! I say stick with it if you love it.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>maxmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12392122"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">This is not exactly your situation, because I was able to conceive my children. But they were both born by cesarean and I have never labored. I'm a damn good L&D nurse and I think I'll be a good midwife, but it can be painful to work with laboring women and and know that I will not ever labor.<br><br>
This is not on a par with infertility, because I've also dealt with that and it is incredibly painful. But for me the pain of working with laboring women decreased as time went by, and the benefits of it outweighed the negatives.</div>
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I didn't read this until after I posted! We're twins. I thought I was the only one. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="innocent">
 

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I really don't have any advise. Just wanted to offer my support, since I delt with infertility for over three years, most of which was while I was in midwifery school. I was able to keep the two separate most of the time, but I have to say that the most painful and insensitive things I heard during this time were said to me by clients who did not know my history. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> I hope you find a way to work through this, because dedicated doulas are so needed!
 

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I can definitely understand how you are feeling. I became a doula before we ever started trying to get pregnant but after we started trying, we found out that we would never be able to concieve without IVF. We have already tried IVF twice (unsuccessfully) and are trying again soon but it's very difficult for me to STILL not know if I will ever experience pregnancy and childbirth after all this time.<br><br>
It's very strange because people will make comments about how being a doula must be hard with what I am going through. And it's really not...in general. I LOVE being a doula. But like you said in your original post, it makes babies and pregnancy and EVERY SINGLE DAY topic and that is sometimes hard.<br><br>
Somehow, I feel very different about clients pregnancies than I do about family and friends pregnancies. The family/friends ones are the ones that are difficult. They bring up so many feelings of envy....and then when people don't do things like I would, I just stuff all of these crazy feelings down inside me even more.<br><br>
Postpartum work is more difficult that birth work, for me. Being in someone's home with their baby after it is born sort of reminds me of what the ULTIMATE goal is. And, of course, it is sometimes hard to do things the way someone else wants them done and not how you would do them but that is the definition of the job!<br><br>
It's also hard to be around moms ALL.THE.TIME and not be one. It used to be fun but now, I just feel like it makes me more and more frustrated with where I am NOT in life.<br><br>
It's definitely a strange thing, to be a doula who is infertile. A challenge. I still love my job though.<br><br>
As for how to get past it, I think you have to attend to the feelings you are having. I haven't done this yet but pretty soon, I think I will pursue some therapy. It's just so hard having pregnancy be an everyday topic without having a chance to talk about your feelings with someone. We have a therapist in our area that specializes in infertility.
 

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I'm a childless doula as well, and yes- it is hard sometimes. I'm also going to be going to school for midwifery soon, and I'm sure that'll be even more difficult.<br><br>
We started ttc in December of 2007, and had 2 losses. I'd had a previous loss as well- so we went to a doctor for help. I needed surgery, and that was fixed. We tried for a few months and I didn't get pregnant. Now we may be moving across the country so I can go to school, and we'll be giving up the house, jobs and general stability- so we're not going to be able to have a baby for at a minimum 3 years.<br><br>
It's been very tough for me- and many days I cry and wonder if I'm making the right decision- and honestly- I cannot really answer that. I just keep on doing what I need to do, praying and letting myself feel.
 

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I too am a childless Doula. My husband and I tried fertility treatments for a few years, including meds, injections, etc. I suffered one miscarriage - so I do know what a rapid dilating cervix feels like - but I've been told the pain and circumstance of miscarriage is far different from labor - and certainly the result is much different!!<br><br>
We never got to do IVF because my uterus, tubes, and ovaries were so severely damaged by Endometriosis. Later when the Fibroids in my uterine walls expanded my uterus to the size of a late first trimester pregnancy, and I could not go anywhere without a near hemorrhage, and once, I even did, which had to be stopped and I was on bed rest for a time, etc. etc. I underwent a complete and total hysterectomy last year - just 3 months before my 34th birthday.<br><br>
I am now 35 years old, and realized that struggling with Endo since I was 15 got me nowhere. When I found a doctor at age 25, who would listen - his main goal was my first laparoscopy and then to become his test case guinea pig, with which I would not comply.<br><br>
His tactics over the course of 2 years hurt me so badly emotionally that I stayed away from doctors until I could no longer function in day to day life. A few years later, I was laying in bed either in pain, or to prevent heavy bleeding, requiring me to be on daily iron supplements - what I also didn't know was that his delay in truly helping me preserve what little fertility I had left after my first surgery resulted in the final damage to my remaining organs as the Endo grew and destroyed everything in its path - including both my ovaries and a portion of my uterus, and both my tubes. My hysterectomy left me with a vaginal canal that is closed off at the top (called a cuff). I have no cervix, no uterus, no tubes or ovaries.<br><br>
While I DO feel like I've finally been given "my life back" as I am not a slave to bedrest, etc. - it can be hard at times. I stay positive by knowing that I am doing things for women that I feel were taken from me - assisting in birth, remaining an advocate for preserving fertility, etc. - encouraging the empowerment of women, their decisions, and their speaking up in the face of adversity - mainly in regards to their reproductive systems and the diseases that affect them. And I am a part of childbirth - of the very moment that life takes its first breath in the world - of the moment I had hoped so much to experience - I can still experience both as a Doula - as well as a Midwife's Assistant in a local Birth Center. And I am in love with it. But I have found myself "checking in" from time to time with my emotions and just "how do I really feel about all of this?" Then I see the need again of so many women out there - and where I was... alone, no one to help me when I needed it - and I realize that maybe I'm where I was supposed to be all along.<br><br>
As a Doula, I struggle and worry that while assisting someone's labor, that they may be thinking "what do you know? you've never been through this" - that's one I struggle with a lot. And I'm always honest with my clients, who afterwards, have all stated they would never had known the difference.<br><br>
I am glad to finally meet OTHER women in my place of being a Doula without ever having children or knowing they never will. Does it hurt sometimes deep down? Sure. I would have to turn off all emotion for it not to - and then I would not be a good Doula if I felt nothing - we have to feel to be compassionate and good at what we do.<br><br>
Does my never being able to have a child - ever - bother me? Of course. I think if we all sat there and looked at it - even the ones who have had children, evaluated if they were in this place - and their children had never been born, and they were given the news that they never would conceive - even moreso, that they would have the entire basis of their femininity removed from them - their reproductive base - or even just being told that theirs does not work - we could all somehow relate - but, "Gentle Hands" - know that you're not alone.<br><br>
I think being aware and knowing that we're not alone - in anything - is the biggest help to coping. I could go on and offer so much more, but I don't want to ramble... if you want to talk, email me at <a href="mailto:D[email protected]">[email protected]</a> (I'm in the Tampa Bay area in Florida)<br><br>
And, again... maybe we're where we were meant to be all along. Only our journeys can tell us that. :)<br><br>
HUGS!!! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/joy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="joy">:
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>DawningBirth</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/12431785"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">As a Doula, I struggle and worry that while assisting someone's labor, that they may be thinking "what do you know? you've never been through this" - that's one I struggle with a lot.</div>
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I know this won't change how you feel but just think about it - men ob's will never and have never experienced birth and yet women hire them every single day to attend their births and meet their needs. I don't think someone needs to experience it to be great at it. So don't for one second let yourself think you won't be good because you haven't experienced it!!!<br><br>
Btw - I am very sorry that you had such struggles - it breaks my heart reading that you were a guinea pig to a doctor and had to struggle for so many years.
 

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All of you ladies are so encouraging for me too, to realize that I'm not the only one who thinks these things. I too started my path as a doula long before my husband and I started to TTC. That was before I discovered we had the IF struggles we do. There have been times recently when I have seriously considered quitting, but the truth is I LOVE what I do and my clients all have expressed really appreciating my support. I just can't seem to stay away when someone invites me to help them through such an important journey. It's an honor.<br><br>
It's been almost 4 years since the miscarriage that signalled what we were about to go through. It's funny how we can <i>nearly</i> separate doing what we love from our personal experiences, isn't it?
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Somehow, I feel very different about clients pregnancies than I do about family and friends pregnancies. The family/friends ones are the ones that are difficult.</td>
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This is definitely true for me. Part of it may come from being more emotionally invested in my loved ones' lives and part of it is dealing with the fact that they don't see me as a professional so they (to one extent or another) tend to project a vibe, or outright say, that "you've never done this so you don't really know what you're talking about/you're getting carried away." Nevermind that I've devoted nearly 6 years of study, effort, time and passion to my WORK, nor the fact that having such an idea even hinted at by people who know our story is pretty painful. Problem is none of them actually intend to be hurtful, they just don't understand why it's important because they can't see me as really being an educated professional without the letters OB/GYN behind my name....or at least RN, come to think of it.<br><br>
Anyway, didn't mean to turn that into such a vent and I apologize for the thread hijack. I didn't realize there were so many doulas out there in similar situations to me. I really thought I was pretty much an oddball in this kind of work, so it is incredibly uplifting to not only read what you all have said, but to see so many of you saying it. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
WOW...so many great replies to my call for help. I was really in a bad way when I wrote that first post...and hearing from everyone has been a great blessing, a real encouragement. I guess I was mostly worried that people would be thinking I was just doing this because I'm an outsider. THAT is not true, but I met a nurse just a while ago who said she hated working with doulas who were not birthing mothers themselves...they are "too emotionally involved" and try to "make the birth go the way they dream of their's going"...she really made us all out to be a little freaky. I guess it shot me down more than I realized. And right after that I went to a birth and I was talking with the mom and telling her she could when she said she couldn't...and she said, "YOU don't KNOW anything about this...you've never done it." I know she doesn't even remember saying that, but it did hurt and it still hurts a little now. Anyway, what I have been thinking of lately is just the fact of WHY I am doing this...I am a doula because I believe families need doulas in most cases. I think a doula can change the whole experience from one of terror and pain to one of joy and coping...enduring. I think babies are recieved better when the birth experience has been a peaceful and safe one...so...I want to be a doula. I want to provide moms and dads with the support they need to have a wonderful and possitive experience...so they can pour out love on their baby...no recovery required. So, I have just attended a birth...where I was almost useless because the dad took my instructions so well to heart that I wasn't needed....what a wonderful accomplishment...I think it is not the births that stresses me out but the in between times of thinking about preg. and birth arround the clock. God grant me the focus I need when I get emotional over what I don't have. You know, the Bible says the infertle woman will have many sons...lol...and I do.
 

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I have a friend who became a doula before she had kids of her own. She told me that just the fact that you've given birth doesn't mean much since you've only had your one (or few) experiences and those are not going to be like anyone else's anyway. This made a lot of sense to me...I only know what it's like to birth fast, I know nothing of back labor, long labor, prodromal labor, c-section, stalled labor etc from my own experience. So if you are good at what you do you would not be at any more of a disadvantage in those situations than I. Just because I gave birth twice doesn't mean I can know what this woman is experiencing in this moment, kwim?
 
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