Doulas are amazing people. And I would venture to say most of us don't even realize the power we hold to change a situation for the positive.
Yesterday, I went to the gym. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, but for me it was tremendously traumatizing. For me, the gym has always been a symbol of failure (I haven't kept myself healthy on my own) and violation ("heyyyy hot mama! lookin' fiiiiine!!" *cat call, cat call*). I haven't set foot in a gym in years, and swore I never would again.
But I've had four kids, and I'm squarely in my 30s and, well, gravity is taking its toll on my body. And I've had Lyme disease, which has also taken its toll on my body. Long and short, I need to start taking better care of my body. So I conceded to give the gym another try.
I'll be honest: there were tears at the front desk. I mean, I wasn't even inside the gym, and already I was crying. *facepalm* But Ambre, the personal trainer who just happened to be standing there... she looked at me, assessed the situation, and said, "you know, at X:XX am and X:XX pm it's like dead in here, so you could come and no one would see you. Let's get started now while it's still quiet, and you can sneak out before anyone sees." Then she quietly took me over to the changing room.
The next 45 minutes were some of the most physically challenging I can remember. But Ambre never made me feel bad for being out of shape, or for not being able to do a pushup. (I did a pushup, by the way. I actually did one and a half. And you know what Ambre said? "That was awesome! You just did one and a half more pushups than you've ever done before!")
Here are some of the other amazing things Ambre said: - "I have faith in you." - "You're stronger than you realize." - "You can do this." - "You look great!" - "I'm proud of you."
And for those 45 minutes, I was proud of me too. (I'm still proud of me, even if I can barely walk today and can't lift my toddler. lol) She took an incredibly traumatic experience and turned it around. It was fun! We laughed! I'm going back tomorrow!
About halfway through the "ordeal" yesterday, it occurred to me that Ambre was my workout doula. She was the gentle inspiration to keep going, try harder, push my limits, trust my body, and just relax. She was the one who made it okay for me to be there. (Could I have worked out without Ambre? Sure. Would I have worked out with Ambre? Maybe. Would I have enjoyed working out without Ambre? Heck no.)
To my fellow doulas, on difficult days remember that you have incredible power to do good. Often it goes unnoticed, or is under-appreciated. Some days, maybe doula work is just a job like any other. But you're changing lives, shaping experiences, and turning challenging situations into incredibly positive moments. You're helping women avoid trauma and reclaim birth and their bodies. You're building touching memories that will affect these families for the rest of their lives.
THANK YOU to all of the world's incredible doulas -- and to everyone who spreads love and warmth with gentle touch and positive encouragement -- for the amazing work that you do, every day, with people just like me who would not have nearly such amazing experiences without the calm and gentle guidance you offer. Don't forget how special you are. Don't forget what a difference you make.
Hug a doula today, and remind her that she is incredible too.