World Doula Week 2019, continued…

Why a Doula: by Sarah

My story is unique and for that I am very grateful. When I became pregnant with my first I knew from the moment we found out that I did not want my pregnancy or birth to feel medical. For me that was because I was a cancer survivor. I had been diagnosed at 21 with stage III lymphoma. I went from a very typical college senior to a cancer patient literally overnight. I spent the majority of the year following as a patient being medically managed. From bi-weekly chemo and immunotherapy to blood draws and PET scans and ultrasounds my day to day was most often dictated by my oncology team. They were necessary to my survival, but when it came to birth I didn’t want to have unnecessary medical intervention. I had a few surgeries along my cancer journey and knew that for me an operating room was a trigger to panic and anxiety.

I began googling things like, “how to avoid a c-section” and “c-section rates” and was alarmed by how high they were. I started to dig into some of the literature supporting doulas as a way to reduce the risk. My husband and I were living in the DC metro area at the time and seeing a midwifery practice that delivered in hospital, but knew we’d be relocating to Rochester in the third trimester. I thankfully had found a similar practice in the URMC Midwifery group and they were welcoming me even though I was so late in my pregnancy. Their practice recommended the Doula Cooperative of Rochester as a good resource for finding a birth doula. I scoured the site for an hour or so and read all the bio’s and went about setting up skype interviews with the doulas who caught my eye.

Fast forward to our last scheduled interview on skype when we met Kim Guck. My husband and I felt at ease with her almost instantly and enjoyed getting to know her and her birth philosophy. We felt lucky that she was willing to take us on despite never meeting us in person. The next few months flew by and by the time we relocated and settled into our Park Ave apartment we got the chance to meet Kim in person for a prenatal. My husband had worried about a doula taking his place in the delivery room, but after our first in person meeting I remember vividly him sharing that he wasn’t so worried about that now after our meeting. At 38 weeks my water broke and my labor went from 0 to 60 in a matter of minutes. Our doula was our first call and she said so strongly, “Carlton, make haste– get to the hospital now!” when she heard me laboring on the toilet. Our daughter was born near 90 minutes after that first contraction. In a precipitous (fast) labor that we never saw coming, Kim was a beacon of light and safety, she made us both feel comfortable and strong, supported in a way we never knew we needed. It was her doula-ing that inspired me to train to be a doula myself when our 1st was 8 months old.

Our doula was with us for our 2nd and 3rd children as well. While each of our birth experiences have been drastically different, the constant has been Kim. She’s shown up for us every time we’ve needed her. Wearing many different doula hats, providing counter pressure, massage, filling the tub, setting the tone with music, advocating on our behalf when appropriate and telling me 100x that I was safe and this was all normal. That same light and love we first felt is all wrapped up in a dear friend and mentor. Thank you for inspiring me and lighting the fire in my belly to support and advocate for laboring people and their families Kim.