At Doula Canada our students and Alumni are the heart of the organization. Every Wednesday our hope is to profile one of our family members and their journey to birthwork.
This week you are meeting Jessica. A Dual Stream certification student and passionate mom. This is Jessica's story in her words. Thanks Jessica for sharing with us!
Being 18 years old, I didn’t know anything. Well, that’s not completely true: I was an honours student, involved with multiple extra-curricular activities. But when I saw those two lines on that pregnancy test, I really didn’t know what to do. My brain turned to mush. I knew sex could lead to pregnancy, but after that I was clueless.
My family is not what I would call extremely supportive. There’s a few select members that I know I can count on, but usually they have their own life stressors to deal with that I found myself mostly alone. My small city didn’t have an extensive midwife network so I had an OB/GYN. A man. Not someone I could really talk to about my feelings or fears going through my pregnancy. I was so used to doing everything on my own, and I chalked it up to this being just one more thing I had to do.
Books were my best friend. Always. I took them out of the library by the stack, trying to educate myself about birth, labour and postpartum. I didn’t have very many “mommy” friends to hear stories from (even if they were horror stories. No idea why every birth story is always a horror story!). I quickly realized that some things you just can’t learn from a book. And the pain of labour was one of those things. I was terrified. I had only the internet to answer my questions.
Never trust Web MD with symptoms. I swear half my pregnancy I thought I was dying.
I didn’t realize I was in labour. Six days overdue, I just assumed labour wasn’t for me. It just wasn’t in the cards. Turns out that back pain I had for the past hour was it starting. I remember being in the bed, unable to walk around, having the fetal monitor around my stomach (and it wasn’t even a high-risk pregnancy!). I cried. Oh, more like I BAWLED. I started crying for a mommy. It didn’t need to be my mommy, just a mommy. Someone who knew what was going on and what to do. I was more scared and alone than ever.
Little did I know they had a word for that.
I didn’t want to be a statistic; just another teen mom living off the system. I managed to graduate high school while pregnant, and applied for university. I was doing this. I pushed myself to work, go to school and raise my son, again on my own. I breastfed. I tried my best to do what all the other “older moms” were doing. Yet, still I got judged. I am still judged. But that won’t stop me.
Supporting teen parents through their prenatal and postpartum period was always a passion for me. I wanted to show them that it IS possible to be a success story. Despite what they thought, it is most certainly possible. I was at the side of young moms labouring, helping them with the initial latch, educating them with whatever information they wanted to know. Supporting them.
Doula. This was a word I had never heard before. It even sounds a little funny when you first say it. DOOOOOUUUUULLLLLAAAAAA. A support person for pregnant or postpartum persons. Someone there to support you in whatever way you need that support. Someone I wished I had at my side during my own labour. Someone I wanted to be.
I still struggle with this journey. It’s taken me to places I forgot about back then. Being alone. My son is now seven, and I have the most amazing support system around me. Somehow, I still wished I had that support when I was younger. My goal is to make sure every person taking the journey towards birth or parenthood, has a me.
Let’s say it one more time for kicks.
Jessica Hart is a graduate from McMaster University with a B.A. in Sociology and Applied Behavioural Analysis. She is a Birth/Labour and Postpartum Doula at Rainbow Spectrum Doula Services, who loves showing birthing persons, young or old, exactly how strong their bodies can be. www.rsdoulaservices.com/
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