When I got out of high school, I knew I would go to college, it wasn’t even a question. I picked a major in Computer Science because, well, I can’t really offer a reason. I think because I knew there’d be a job for me at the end of it; but I had no affinity for it. I can’t even say I knew what it really was. That probably should have been my first red flag.
I signed up for my classes, struggled, but passed. No flying colors, but I passed. I went to hang out with a friend of mine I had met on the local BBS’s (that’s bulletin board system; yes, I’m that old). He was showing me how he had learned some computer language for fun and then used that language to write some screen savers (did I mention old?) and his own version of Minesweeper. I just sat there, confused. Why on earth would someone go to that much trouble when it wasn’t required as an assignment? That should have been red flag two.
One of the bigger classes I had to take was a Software Engineering at the end of our college career. It was a group project over two quarters and took an insane amount of time and energy. It was supposed to be a massive project that went from design, through development, to a “pretty box” at the end. But I didn’t do much of the development. I took care of the group instead. I made sure morale was kept up, I worked behind the scene to keep the environment peaceful so the others could be productive. The group leader recognized this and considered my role more of a supportive manager. That should have been my third and biggest red flag.
I was not a coder. I was the group’s doula.
I’m still grateful for my degree even though I’m not currently using it. Being an engineer changes the way my brain works, it influences how I solve problems. It keeps the left half of my brain busy. And oddly, it does get used in my current work in birth.
Fast forward a few years to when I had my first baby. I had taken quality classes, but made the mistake of choosing an unsupportive birth place. Though I hired a doula, she was inexperienced. That birth was traumatic for myself, my husband, and my child. I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through what I did. So I studied.
I first became a childbirth educator. I firmly believe Diana Korte’s quote, “If I don’t know my options, I don’t have any” and I wanted to make sure that parents knew their whole spectrum of choices. I wanted expectant families to have more than “this is what we do here in the hospital” classes.
One very important homework assignment I had was that parents get their car seat checked. Then a friend became a CPST and I realized it would be easier if I could just offer that to my students. So I added CPST.
Postpartum is still a major time of transition and I wanted to help families enjoy it. So I added placenta encapsulation. While I was at the training, I was talking to another student who was also a doula. I mentioned that I would love to do doula work more consistently, but with kids, no family nearby, and my husband’s inflexible work schedule, it didn’t seem very feasible. She told me I needed a doula partner. Huh. I hadn’t thought of that.
Ellen was over and we were chatting. I mentioned my conversation from the placenta capsule training about a doula partner. She looked at me with a surprised expression. “Do you want to be my partner?” Oh my gosh. I wasn’t trying to be subtle and hint… but duh! We both taught the same childbirth classes. We had known each other for years. Yes! That makes sense! So I added doula.
Everything I have done has been in an effort to make families stronger. I firmly believe that connections that start in pregnancy, gentle births, and confident parents make more solid families which makes this world a better place. But there is more than pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. What about the years of parenting? So we went out to San Diego for a week and became Parent Effectiveness Training instructors.
Now, the right side of my brain is happy too. I did use my degree for a few years, and I was a part of a few very cool projects. I got to go to some fascinating locations for my work. I felt important. And now, I get to be a part of miracles. I get to go to the depths of strength with birthing families. I am the least important person in that room. And I love my job.
Melissa and Ellen are birth doulas, childbirth educators, placenta encapsulation specialists, and Parent Effectiveness Training instructors serving the Denver, CO area. They are passionate about pregnancy, birth, baby care, and parenting. They bring over twenty years of combined experience to their premium childbirth classes, doula support, parenting classes, and placenta encapsulation services in the metro Denver area.