The late summer air, cooler and crisper with each passing evening, has put me in a reflective mood. I find myself struck by the immense gift that we doulas are given when we choose to walk this path of unconditional support. After more than a decade as a doula, I can say with certainty that this work only continues to get deeper. In fact, one of the reasons why I love being a doula is because I don’t see an end to the depths of lessons learned through the witnessing of birth. After 10 years, my “work” is also becoming more and more an extension and expression of who I am. The lines between my work and my role are melting away and what I’m left with is love.
It’s not so much that the circumstances have improved; they haven’t. But I find that an effortlessness and an ease have come over me, even during negotiations and stressful encounters in the hospital. Is it me? Is there more awareness present in the collective culture of birth? Are my mothers and partners more informed? It could be all of the above. What is clear to me is that there is a shift happening and a movement growing. What has changed for me is the sense of deeper responsibility and respect toward this global movement.
I’m never just “attending” a birth. Instead, I find myself constantly considering the power of each birth and how it can impact this larger movement. I’m never just thinking about one mother and baby. Rather, I am absorbed in the connection and the importance that one mother’s story has for all the women she’ll share her story with after her baby is born. I’m never simply considering my interactions with one nurse or one doctor, but also the impactful reverberations that respectful, professional rapport can have throughout our entire profession. I realize that what we are doing, ultimately, is attending the birth of a movement.
The same holds true for my sisters. Regardless of where we’re at — a seasoned doula of twenty-five years, or a novice doula waiting to attend her first birth — there is a powerful sense of solidarity that overrules all circumstantial and systemic differences and leaves me feeling strong and connected.
We are on the “front lines” as doulas, and our presence must be respected and acknowledged for it is, in fact, a power and a privilege not to be taken for granted. Transformative social movements don’t happen when we operate as individuals in our separate silos. They are born in community and within an awareness that we are all connected, working toward the same vision: a world where every mother, partner, and baby is deeply respected and honored.
As a doula mentor, there is an overwhleming sense of fulfillment knowing that we have created a program based on unconditional support for our doulas. Our relationships are cultivated over our 3- and 5-day trainings, but the true blossoming happens over the course of our 9-month program.
I feel so proud to be part of a team (thank you to my dear partners, Tara Brooke and Gina Giordano!) that is truly dedicated to being present for our doulas at all times. We are committed to growing DTI and staying true to our mission that doulas need doulas to thrive. This model is deeply rooted in the power of sisterhood. Our program is grounded in an educational philosophy that admires and focuses on the intelligence of collective learning, a feminine-centered model that believes and trusts women and birth. And I know, collectively, we are very proud to offer a new model for doulas (both novice and seasoned) who are interested in deepening, not only in their skills as doulas, but in their own personal journeys as active members of a movement that is transforming the paradigm of the birth culture. This connection is essential for understanding the relationship between the individual and the collective.
Being a doula has been, by far, one of the most rewarding decisions of my life. My gratitude toward Birth and the beautiful women and families I’ve been honored to support only continues to deepen.
Late summer blessings and love to all,
Aimee Brill is one of the three mentors and co-owners of DTI. She is the proud mama of two beautiful boys both born at home, and is married to her husband, Kevin Bott, who shares her passion for birth activism. Their latest adventure is his mayoral candidacy in which birth is one of the major issues in his campaign. They live in Syracuse, NY. Check out their birth initiative here: http://www.kevinbott.org/birth. When she is not with her boys or at a birth, she enjoys expressing herself as a political theater performer and creator with The D.R.E.A.M Freedom Revival. She counts her blessings everyday for the gifts she has received from Birth and in her life as a doula, birth activist, and educator. She is devoted to the vision that every woman deserves a humane, respectful, and loving birth experience.