My face hurt from laughing so hard and my heart was full.
Fifteen women, gathered for their monthly doula hangout, sitting around a table piled high with food: brownies, whipped topping, cookies, angle food cake, strawberries, chips, guacamole. Oh, the guacamole.
It was an evening out of busy lives to connect around the shared work of caring for pregnant, laboring, and postpartum women and families.
You might know this type of group or have one of your own, the kind where you need no introduction even if you’re a stranger to most of the members. You gather around a table, you grab some food, the conversation begins, and because of your shared interests, it’s like you’ve known each other for ever.
I used to be a birth worker in this community, but had moved away years ago and essentially retired from childbirth education and doula work. Yet, we return to town yearly to visit friends and family. While there, two dear friends invited me along to this gathering. I didn’t know anyone. It didn’t matter. I used to be part of the community before I moved away. And that’s what counted.
I’ve journeyed far away from this birth worker part of my life. My babies are grown. Most of my friends are past the baby stage. I taught my last childbirth class years ago and have attended just two births since then for a dear friend who wanted me as moral support to be with her and her husband.
But, the thing is, once you’re part of the birth community, it gets inside your heart and soul and you never really get away. It was a part of my life for some wonderful years. So much a part that, as I sat around this table with these women and their breastfeeding babies and their stories and their jokes, I was at home.
Those moments of connection, the belly laughs, the inside jokes that need no explanation, smiles across the room, feelings of comfort and peace and belonging. Those are the moments I treasure up in my memories for ever.