What’s Your Story? Doula Series Ep. 6

By: Care Messer Birth Doula, Doulas, Education February 21, 2019


We all have a story! Our background, our struggles AND our triumphs have made us who we are. Sometimes new doulas feel like they have little to offer because they don’t have much birth experience. Not true! Once we evaluate what we have learned from our own life experiences, we will discover a whole network of skills that we can bring to the table. And when we are self aware – we will also see where we need to improve and when our skill set is not quite enough for a birth we may be interviewing for. It is ok to say no, not cross your own personal boundaries and help that family find someone better suited. That keeps the birth room clear from resentment or anxiousness. THIS is a baby’s birth – and THAT is more important than our ego. In this video we explore a lot of all of that!

Video Transcript:

– All of us have a story. What’s our culture? What’s our background? What hardships do we come from? What lessons have we learned from our past? We all have stuff, and all of those things can be turned into strengths. What lessons have you learned? And what are you gonna be bringing in to the birthroom? So today we wanna talk about knowing your story. It’s really important to know your story and your background and be willing to delve deep, into the pain and the yucky stuff, because that’s what’s gonna help you find the skills and the lessons that you learned. In order to help yourself in business and in the birthroom. Knowing your story is gonna help you figure out, where you can be empathetic, where you can be sympathetic, and how you can help those that you’re serving, without crossing your own boundaries and a lot of some birthwork come with hardly any boundaries because we have a big heart and we serve and we love and we wanna do this all for free but that is not gonna be sustainable, and it’s gonna ’cause burnout. So you might not think about going back to past history in your life, what your triggers are, what your traumas are. Really your going to relate to birth life, but actually what happens in a birthroom, can trigger all of that stuff and birth can be traumatic for you if you haven’t worked through your stuff yet. It’s so important that you’re able to walk into a birthroom and just hold space for that family and realize, when your stuff comes up, that you set that aside and just support the family. We as birth workers need to remain clear, so we don’t re traumatize ourselves, or repeat patterns that are not healthy for us, or this new family that were serving. One of the questions I get from you doulas, is they don’t have a lot of birth experience. They don’t have 50 births. So they feel like they have nothing to offer in an interview but really you do have a lot, to offer in an interview. You’ve been living for 35 years, 25 years, 18 years. There is some life experience there and you’ve learned some skills and balanced those skills with the trauma, or the hardships, or where you came from. That you’re gonna be able to offer those skills, to a new family, but you need to know what those are. ‘Cause whats wrapped up in your story. Your life’s lessons. Your culture. Your background. Your heritage. Your history. Are really good pieces of nuggets of information, and love that you can bring into a birthroom. Those are skills, and they also will help you in your birth business, but you kinda have to dig through, your history, to find what those skills are, as well as what those triggers are. Because you want to walk into a birthroom, with responding instead of reacting, we’re keeping everything mellow for this new family and we’re not gonna bring our stuff in the room. So I’m gonna give you my story in light form, just as it relates to this video, you’re gonna get more nuggets of information from me, along the way ’cause I’m pretty much an open book. I was raised in a very religious and structured church and some might call it controlling and domineering and almost bossy in the quest for perfectionism, but actually there was a lot of yummy stuff in that, religious background that kept me safe and gave me skills, that I’m using to this day. In my business and in my doula work. What my religion did was give me boundaries, guidelines and safety measures to keep myself safe. When my home life wasn’t as safe for me. When I went to church and when I participate in all those activities. I knew what was expected. I knew what was coming next, and I was praised for what I was doing right and that’s something I wasn’t getting at home and I don’t want to cast a totally bad light, on my home-life. But it was very volatile, unpredictable, unforgiving and not nurturing. Where as church was, and the meetings that I went to and the people that I encountered, for the most part where loving, nurturing and of course that’s outside of life right? They didn’t have the hard part of me at home either, they got the good part of me, in the outside life. But my home-life was pretty much emotionally neglectful, which while it gave me freedom to do kinda what I wanted, it also put me under a pressure to perform. And there’s a lot of judgment on whether that performance was good or not and and I never knew. Is this going to be right? Is this gonna be wrong? Until a lot of times I wouldn’t try. Or I would hide what I was gonna do, because I didn’t want the criticism. Of course we had good traditions and we had happy memories nestled in, and I had one person in my family. My oldest brother, who taught me unconditional love and acceptance and gave me a taste, of what it could be, on the outside of that harm. So some of the things that I learned in my church world that I didn’t learn exactly at home. Were how to build community. What community meant. What it meant when people and sisters were sharing information, love and acceptance and what great things we could do when we came together with a lot of trust. I didn’t learn that at home, but I learned that in church. I learned how to start a community project and inspire people to get behind it and to accomplish things. I learned how to plan things from start to finish and all of the stuff in between. I learned how to assign projects. Do projects. Take direction. Give direction. Very important things when you’re building a business. I also learned how to do public speaking, we were teaching lessons from a really, really young age and doing little speeches all the time growing up. I became very comfortable in front of an audience, not so much in front of a camera, but in front of an audience. Through something called visiting teaching, where we actually went into homes, in pairs, to help other women, through babies, through hardships, whatever. You really got to see how every family, had a story behind closed doors that you weren’t aware of. It gave so much empathy to us when we were serving one another and really opened up the doors for no judgment, but it also opened up the doors, for a lot of judgment. Because people weren’t living the way they should and they weren’t being as perfect as a they should and I wasn’t living the way I should and I wasn’t as perfect as I should be. But what I learnt from that is, that I don’t like judgment and I want to be able to be in an environment where I can accept other people. Where they can accept to me and where forgiving with each other’s story, because we all have the same story. We’re not perfect. We’re doing our best. We’re crappy on some days. Some things we repeat over and over, because we don’t have the awareness to change them, or because it’s too hard to change them, but we need to come into birth work and our business work and in our communities. Just loving and accepting each other, and working towards a common goal of just being better. When we get there and how we get there together, it’s a lot easier when we do it together. So in my home I learned that there where no boundaries, that it was okay to use me and not say no. When I really needed to say no, because I was such a people pleaser. I would rather be used and please people and feel adored by them or important to them. Than set boundaries and say I’m too tired I can’t do, that that took a lot of therapy to overcome and it still shows up. Because I’m a people pleaser and I want people to like me, but I also have to let go of the judgment and let go of what they might be saying, because at the end of the day, people are saying it about them and they’re worried about that too. So let that go, move forward. We all have a story. It doesn’t matter, let’s find the commonality, instead of all the differences. That’s one thing I learned. And then one thing I noticed about my mentors, my healers. People in the community and in the church and in the public life. Like Oprah and Maya Angelou, who are one of my, two of my best mentors. Which they don’t know that, but to of my best mentors. Is that we didn’t all arrive in greatness. We struggled. We had to figure things out. They also had to learn boundaries and that boundary shift of learning. When they could say no, and when they could say yes. Gave them a hundred percent. When I say yes, I’m in the moment. When I say no, I’m taking care of myself and I hope you respect that. That was my shift. Once I learned that my no needed to be respected and once I learned that I could respect someone else’s no and not guilt them into doing what I wanted, we became clear with each other. It shifted everything for my birth work. It shifted everything for my business. One of the stories, that I remember Oprah talking about, was she realized that everyone kept coming to her for money because they knew she had it and not only did she want to please them, but she had money and she needed to give it to them, because they knew she had it. So she was handing it out and then one day somebody called her. Stevie Wonder And asked her for money for a charity and she really had to think about exercising her boundary and just saying no and so she did. Thinking oh, I hope he likes me I hope he doesn’t hate me And he goes, All right, catch you later. And that was it, and she went. Why haven’t I been saying no before? If they don’t accept it, that’s their deal. But he accepted it and in that moment shifted everything for her. I realized from looking and learning from other people, that we always have a choice in shifting, what’s not working in our lives. We can sit in the muck and repeat that lesson over and over and let our ego’s say. It’s everybody else’s fault. Or we can go this is so not working for me. For my business. For my family. For my relationships and make different choices to choose something different. It’s hard to keep falling back into that pattern but it’s a constant choice to move forward, so that we can let that pattern go. It works and I’ve been using it for a while. What’s important to remember, is that we all have a story and be aware of where everybody is coming with that story. If they’re lashing out, they’re lashing out because they’ve experienced pain. I lash out because it’s triggering something, that I experienced pain around. I haven’t maybe learned the trust around that yet, so understanding when somebody comes at you. What’s behind that? There’s way more pain that we don’t understand and way more story. So step back and don’t take it personally. One of the four agreements. Don’t take it personally. So what you can do is turn these hardships, these difficulties, these lessons you’ve learned, into strengths and business skills. For yourself and also birthroom skills for your families. When you walk into an interview, you can accept where that family is. At that time they may be a hot mess. But remember you’re also a hot mess. Were all in this together. My visual is that we all have a belly button. We all come with a belly button. There’s not one human being on this planet, that does not have a belly button, and that reminds and resets my mind. That we all come in love and we all come without a story. That story has begun in the womb. Starts with our birth and then all the stuff happened. But reset back to. I don’t know their story, but I can accept it, where it is and then be self-aware enough to go. Can I take this on? What are your boundaries around that? Is it gonna trigger something? Is it too much for you? Is the experience level that they need, way more than you have? Then put them in touch with someone else, who is gonna be better suited for them. That way there’s no boundaries crossed. No resentment occurring and they’re going to have the right doula for them. You will be at the right birth at the right time, if you just keep a little bit of a standard. Who’s gonna be better suited for them? Me or somebody with more experience? Me or somebody with less experience? In that kind of trauma ,because I can’t deal with that. Be okay with finding someone if they need it. When you know you’re boundaries. Your history. Your cultural background. Things that are not gonna work for you, you’re going to avoid doula burnout. You’re gonna be able to stay in the work, because it’s pure for you. Yes, it’s gonna spark things and it’s gonna make you dig through some stuff. Rip some band-aids off. But instead of that being traumatic for you. It can actually be healing for you and you can walk through it. There so many avenues for support, when things like that come up. In the community there’s therapy. If it was traumatic there is EMDR therapy, which is awesome. You have online community and we also have a sisterhood. If we build solid community, where we love and trust each other. We can process stuff with each other and we can also show our vulnerable side. I need help with this. ‘Cause I don’t know why I keep offending people, when I say X-Y-Z and when a woman comes back with you. “Here’s why you offend!” This hurts our feelings when you go and you might have an awakening that you go. “Oh my gosh I’m not gonna do that anymore!” Thanks for being trusting enough and loving me enough to be straight with me on that, it might hurt. But there’s a reason it hurts, because maybe you know it’s true. It’s totally okay to reset and start over. Drop the ego and figure out your stuff in love, you’re gonna be better for it. So are you families, and so is your business. So the key to knowing your story, is recognizing that everybody has a story. Finding love and self compassion, instead of judgment and harshness. Its what’s gonna switch everything. That’s what’s gonna make you a good doula and that’s what’s gonna set you apart from the rest.

About the author:
Care is the founder of the Birth Education Center, San Diego HypnoBirthing and Cuddle Sanctuary San Diego. She is a Birth Educator, Hypnotherapist, Birth and Postpartum Doula, INNATE Care Provider, Erotic Blueprint Coach and also professional Cuddler. She specializes in connection work between people and increasing self boundaries for a more balanced life together.