Monday, December 7, 2015

My Client List

Did you know that North Dallas Doula Associates has been serving the DFW area for over a decade? Would you be surprised if I told you, I really do carry a "little black book" with all my client information with me at all times?
Well, the truth is, I do!

So lets talk about the who's who on the doula client list....
I have meet some of the most interesting, accomplished, and educated people around the world working as a doula.  I have been the doula for professional athlete's, musicians, TV personalities and celebrities. I have witnessed the birth of families in many cultures and religions and consider it an honor to be present and open hearted during their traditions and religious rituals.

Did you know that women of the Muslim faith can only be attended by females at her birth? Although, male doctors can be used, the majority of the attendees will be female.  Some Muslim fathers do not attend the birth although religious teachings do not prohibit his attendance.
Breastfeeding , in the Muslim faith is highly promoted via the Quran. Some mothers are given ratb, which is a kind of date said to improve milk quality.
Muslim fathers will recite an Adhan (call to prayer) in their infants right ear so that it is the first words he/she will here post delivery.

In the Orthodox Jewish faith a women will enter the ritual status of 'niddah' when certain signs of labor approach. This status has implications for the ability for the husband to provide physical assistance and/or be present throughout the delivery. Niddah basically means husband and wife cannot touch once labor has begun.  In this scenario the doula becomes the mothers only means of physical support.
In over 100 traditional Jewish births, I have seen many adaptations to these rituals, but have enjoyed learning and loving through each and every one....and did I mention the food that usually comes along with these families. YUM!

There are over 100 gay and lesbian couples that grace the pages of the black book. Witnessing these men and women become mothers and fathers is one of true triumph. Learning about he struggles, time, finances, and prayers that have allowed them to receive the gift of a child is beauty beyond belief.

I have attended teen births, surrogate deliveries, twin, triplets, and adoption births.

I have been beside a mother who is delivering a baby we know will be born still or with a disorder that will not allow for life after birth. When I look back and read those names on the pages I cannot help but feel my eyes fill with tears and my heart with hurt....
Every single one of them takes space in my soul.

 My client list has been privileged to include the names of many labor and delivery nurses, doulas,  midwives, and obstetricians. There is no greater compliment than being asked to attend the birth of a colleague. They have seen you work and trust you to be beside them during the most intimate of experiences. This is confirmation that you have found your true calling.

I am in love with the diversity that soaks through the pages of my worn out book.  I have been the doula to 6 women this year who have come from other parts of the world; Iraq, Mexico City, Israel, The Dominican Republic, China, and India to birth their babies. I am filled with gratitude for the chance to serve woman outside of my 'backyard" and know that I played a small role in their own unique journey to motherhood.

 I look forward to reading and filling the pages of my client list for years to come and hope that there will never be a day that I stop learning from the amazing women who fill my book and support my life's work.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

An open letter to Randy Patterson: What I REALLY think about PRODOULA and the doulas who drink the Kool-Aid!


I am writing this letter after a long week of wondering why the doula world has become so catty, bitchy, and passive aggressive.  I work hard with my head down and my nose to the ground. I worry less about what and how others are doing business and about the success and integrity of my own practice.

The average life span of a doula is 2 years. I can only remember one face and name from the doulas in training during my DONA workshop 16 years ago.  None of them are practicing doulas and none of them practiced longer than 2 years.  When I left my training I did my first birth as a doula exactly 1 month later and I began my journey supporting women. I went through the process to become certified through Doulas of North America and was mentored by two of the best doulas and educators in Texas. I was on top of the world.  Year after year, and birth after birth, I learned and grew. I watched and respected the more experienced doulas in awe.

So now I am wondering why after I have put in my time, built my business and proven myself do I have to deal with the hate I am dealing with…. Why is this profession becoming so cut throat?

I have recently found myself and my practice, time and time again, the target of one of the others in our doula community.  A situation I am seeing and feeling more and more. It is hard for me to understand how a woman who is in the profession of supporting other women can slander, defame, and bully another woman who is supporting women for a living, solely because she is not doing it “her” way; or because she is making a good living doing it.

In the midst of this soul searching, here in Dallas Texas, a call went out to New York, to you, Randy Patterson.  You were willing to take your time and give a listening ear to the issues our practice is  experiencing with a certain DONA certified doula and trainer.  Your advice was respectful, encouraging, and affirming.  We were instantly scooped into your family,  the family that is PRODOULA.  Your love for the work we do and the women who do it with you,  even states away, is fierce;  if I wasn’t already sold on the work ethic, business building, professional energy of PRODOULA before; I was completely sure that my FOREVER doula home had been found.

Randy Patterson, we are so thankful to have someone like you in the doula world. Only those who do not know you personally can talk hate about you….if they met you and/or heard your truth they would never be able to utter words of negativity in your direction.

You have gone to bat for us, believed in us, reaffirmed our faith, pushed us to do what we were capable of all along...and THAT, I believe, is what the doula spirit is all about!

I have met you many times now, spoken to you in regard to my personal and professional issues, attended your training's, and conference. I have had the privilege to meet other PRODOULA trainers, members, and speakers. One thing all of them have in common is the fierce factor that I believe you fuel in all of us.

So I want to thank you for being there for my practice, North Dallas Doula Associates, this week and always. I cannot express how it feels after 16 years in the business to finally meet my people.  The PRODOULA Kool-Aid has never tasted SO good!

 Yours truly,
Melissa Espey-Mueller