_Dr. Michael Klein- a local treasure in the birth world!
"The presence of a Doula is a major advantage for physicians, the women and their families.  They provide a level of support that is often very difficult to achieve in a busy maternity care service.  We see increased satisfaction with the birth experience, lower intervention rates and excellent infant outcomes."

Dr Michael Klein, award-winning & world-renown physician scientist, author & leader in the field of normal birth
_We welcomed a little girl into the world in the wee hours of the morning. This verse from Paul King is an inspiration for me in my doula work (I also knit for our new babies during their births!):

A head I have for thinking deeply,
Listening, and learning, and looking with care.
Hands I have for work and creating
With fingers skillful to make and repair.
In my heart I can carry the sun
Shining with love for everyone. (Paul King)

Being a doula is truly a labour of love! I am regularly woken up in the middle of the night, am on call all the time, have missed Halloween, have missed birthdays, find it hard to schedule my own appointments and vacations, etc. I manage to handle this thanks to a huge amount of support from family and friends who are prepared to leap into action at a moment's notice. I have a friend who will even come over in the middle of the night if my husband is away and I get called- amazing!

I wouldn't trade in being a doula for anything though. It is a privilege to accompany people on their journey to becoming parents. I can't think of any other circumstance in which I would get to know people so quickly and so intimately. Parents share their dreams and fears with me. Parents place their trust in me. They turn to me for guidance and support.

At a recent interview, I was asked about the most important thing that I bring to a birth. The first thing that came to mind was "love". Now I wasn't sure if I should say that- I didn't want to seem flaky! For a second, I though about mentioning all of my training, experience and the material things that I bring (Tens, etc) but I decided to say "love". Since becoming a mother myself, I feel a universal mama-love connection with babies, children, and parents-to-be. I bring my mama-love to every birth and couldn't be a doula without it!

As the amazing Raffi says: "All I really need is a song in my heart, love in my family"

When I meet couples for the first time, I am often asked questions about how I interact with partners and whether or not they might feel supplanted by me. My goal is to help partners find the tools that they need to support the mother and navigate the labyrinth that is labour and delivery. Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement, a thumbs-up, reassurance, guidance with massage or back pressure. After birth, I hear partners tell the mothers that they are so strong, determined, amazing, and beautiful. I also hear mothers say how well loved and supported they felt. Birth is a powerful, intimate, and revelatory experience. Couples see each other in a whole new light. In no way would I ever want to come between this!
I have recently started knitting baby booties for the babies that I see entering this world. I love that I am able to knit them even with two busy boys at home! I keep my knitting in my purse and pull it out whenever I have a moment (sometimes even during quiet moments at a birth!). 

My eldest son (Owen) often asks me which baby I am knitting for and how I decided which colours to use. It seems to help him to bridge that gap between me being his mama and being a doula for others. The wool that I use changes colour as I knit so each bootie is an explosion of colour. 

When Owen went for an interview at the Vancouver Waldorf School, he found and presented his teacher with a "jewel". He came up close beside her, leaning his body against hers, and presented her with his gift. The gift of his trust, love and imagination. A few months later, at the beginning of Kindergarten, his teacher mentioned that she kept that "jewel" on her coffee table all summer as a reminder to keep him in her thoughts and heart. My knitting is like that for me: the parents that I work with share their dreams with me, give me the gift of their trust, and invite me to witness the birth of their families. One of the things that I get to do is transform plain wool into something special while keeping them present in my mind's eye. Knitting gives me a chance to dream about each baby who will be entering our world. Beautiful! 
I recently received a note from a friend who is expecting a baby any day now. The feelings that he expressed mirror what I hear so often from fathers so I thought that I would repost it here:

"We are excited and nervous, but I think we’re as ready as you can be for this incredible change that’s coming. As for me, in what must be a common experience for fathers-to-be, I am searching myself for ways that I can be useful and make B-day easier for Sadia – it’s a funny feeling approaching this day together, but knowing that there is part of this journey that I can’t go on with her. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to ask all of you who know her to send me a little hand-written note of encouragement, congratulations, poetry, or whatever else you want to wish her, that I will put together in a scrap book and give to her to help her through what will be an intense time. I know she will love this, and more importantly, this will give me something to keep me busy and maintain my sanity!"

My reply was:
"Johnny: I have no doubt that you will know how to help once labour starts. Being a parent is all about love and the two of you have so much of that. Encourage her to trust her body and draw strength from your love. In many ways, having a baby together is like making love- I know that you will be so present, so in the moment, so intuitive, and so loving. It's a time when she may feel vulnerable or she may feel incredibly strong! It's a time when she may need you to be her rock, to hold her space, or to be her advocate.

Sadia: your body is made to give birth- trust in yourself- you are working together with your baby towards the birth of your new family. You will not be alone- there are so many other women who will be birthing at the same time as you. You are amazing and strong!"

I came across Shanti Uganda a few years ago and have been thrilled to support them by making a donation for every birth that I attend. The founder of Shanti Uganda is a doula and the organization is committed to improving maternal and infant health. Among the many things that they do, they have built a Birth House and Learning Centre, work with midwives, and they provide Birth Kits. The Shanti Uganda Birth Kits are filled with the basic supplies that are needed for a woman to have her baby with safety and health in mind. Each birth kit includes gloves, umbilical cord tie, disposable razors and other necessary supplies for birth. 

I can't think of a better way to honour the babies and mothers that I assist than by making a Birth Kit donation in their name!

Please take a look at their website http://www.shantiuganda.org/ and consider supporting them.
I came across "Meditating Mamas" by Susan Whelehan and Rebecca Cunningham. This one is fitting for today:

"I can make this day a meditation by trying to be awake to all that happens. I don't need to be "The Perfect Mom." I do not need to have all the answers. I only need to know that I am deeply connected to all people, to this planet, and that this moment is precious. I want to look at all things today with gentle eyes, appreciating the beauty and mystery of life.
Wake up! This moment is precious."
I haven't blogged in a very long time. No excuses really! So, here is the first in a few that I have saved up.

When we moved to our home in East Vancouver, my first born was 8 months old. He immediately fell in love with our neighbour F and his daughter L. She was 4 at the time and loved carrying Owen around. She would sing, dance and put on puppet shows for him. By the time he could talk and walk, he would take off next door with her. They became inseparable on weekends. When she wasn't home, he wanted to be with his other best friend- her dad F. They would hang out, eat treats and play soccer. I never knew that people who aren't family could love my son so much. As a new mother, this was such a blessing. I knew that I could count on them for help when I really needed a break, and I did need them! I learned that it is OK to ASK for and RECEIVE help. I learned that Owen's love was a blessing for them. We all benefited!

So many friends have helped us over the years: H would come over one evening a week so that Dave and I could take tango lessons, my other neighbour A would babysit more often than I can count. The list of helpers goes on and on. Now I get to help others! My neighbour A has just had her second baby and I get to spend time with her daughter- such a pleasure! I can only hope to help my neighbour like how she helped me.

Do you ask for help? What would it take for you to allow yourself to reach out?
My relationship with my parents changed significantly when my first son was born. We have always been close but I saw them in a new light once I became a parent. So, here are 10 of the reasons why I think that they are great parents!
1- They have always loved me unconditionally.
2- They have always believed in me and encouraged all of my interests: they encouraged my peace activism when I was a teenager (in fact they even let me fly to a peace conference in Calgary alone when I was in my early teens!), they encouraged me to travel to El Salvador and Tunisia to do community development work, etc.
3- They always made time for us.
4- They have always stepped up to the plate when I have needed help: helping me move, helping us fix up our house, buying me groceries when I needed them, etc.
5- They helped me graduate from university debt free: so many of my friends are still paying off their education years later. I am so lucky.
6- They gave me my sisters and reminded us that sisters should always be there for each other, no matter what.
7- They made us do things that we didn't always want to!: cross-country skiing, going to classical music concerts, playing musical instruments, etc. What they were really doing was making interesting family life a priority. So important!
8- They travelled with us and showed us that there is so much out there to explore and so many things to learn.
9- They love my husband and he loves them!
10- They adore my children and make them a priority. My 6-year old said to my mother today: "Nana- I love you as much as I love my mummy and daddy. That's because you are my mummy's mummy- and she loves you like I do!"