All photos below this point taken by me. Birth photos shared with permission.
2016 is finally over. I think we’re all ready for this year to say it’s goodbyes. It’s been a rough one. With painful losses, political conflict, one thing after another. The world is breathing a sigh of relief leaving this year behind. But it wasn’t all bad. All throughout 2016, I had the privilege of welcoming new babies who lit up their family’s lives. It doesn’t get much better than that.
For birth professionals, it’s tempting to share the “year end statistics”. It makes perfect sense, so many other businesses share how many happy customers were served in any given year. So we see the stats posts. How many babies born. Each doula’s cesarean rate, epidural rate, home birth transfer rate. I understand why a birth professional would want to show the world what a great year they had, and I understand why potential clients would appreciate seeing the numbers. But you won’t see me sharing my “stats”.
The truth is, I don’t keep those numbers. Because those numbers aren’t MY numbers. I don’t create outcomes, and I don’t turn away families. To site a cesarean rate implies I made any given delivery go a certain way. “The Doula Effect” aside, that isn’t my role. Each family and their provider will make their own decisions, and I’ll be there to support them unconditionally.
There’s also a certain implication when citing “success rates”. Whether it’s intended to or not, for a client who did have a cesarean birth, those statistics would almost certainly read as “look how many clients didn’t have a less-than delivery!”. All births are successes. The mother who knew her options and planned a cesarean birth is still a success. The mother who laboured with unbelievable strength for days, only to go back for her emergency cesarean, is still a success. They’re all success stories, regardless of choices made or outcomes.
So instead of telling you the numbers, I’ll tell you what really happened this year. 100% of my clients had me by their side. Every birth unfolded in its own unique way, just as all births do. The mother dedicated to birthing drug and intervention free did just that. The mother anxious and recovering from previous birth trauma got her epidural as planned, and had the healing birth experience she wanted. They were all inspiring. Each and every one of them.
In 2016, I held women. I pressed on their backs and held their hands. I climbed on hospital beds, lifted legs, laughed a lot and cried a lot.
In 2016, I studied. I aced my certification exams, I registered to cross certify, I took supplemental courses and read voraciously. I sat at the dining table with my six year old and we did our homework together. In 2016 I absorbed information like a sponge and started on the journey of building a business.
In 2016, I spent collective months on call. Sleeping with a phone in my hand, waiting to hear I’d be meeting a baby that day. I watched tiny little heads suddenly appear, and told their mothers for the first time the colour of their children’s hair.
In 2016, I spent time away from my children. Leaving in the middle of the night for long births, and spending days hammering away on my computer studying and working. And I don’t regret a single second of it. Because this was the year my children got to see I am so much more than mommy. That there is no limit, no reality in which “this is hard” becomes “this is impossible”. This is the year my children changed their answers when asked what they’d like to be when they grow up. My daughter will say “a doula”, my son will tell you “mommy”.
I hold them a little bit closer now, and then I get back to teaching by example. Lessons about womanhood, education, entrepreneurship, health, the cycle of life, and the value of just being there for each other. And we’ve laughed a lot. When I go off call and we head out on adventures. When they draw little congratulations cards for mommy’s clients when a baby arrives. When one little boy didn’t have a name yet, and my toddler decided to take the initiative and name him “Snoodle”. We laugh all the time.
I don’t have the numbers for you, but I can tell you 2016 was a perfect year. All goals met, all laughs bellowed, all clients supported, all births unfolded, all babies placed into loving arms. I call that a 100% success rate.