by Carolyn Flynn Vasquez
When we first meet with couples, we usually explain how women are hard-wired to birth in the presence of other women. We bring it back to the time when we lived in tribal groups, and the females would gather in the birthing hut to support a woman as she labored. Birth in community with women is faster, less complicated, more enjoyable. But it doesn’t stop there. And that is where our story begins.
After my twin boys were born, I would sometimes call my best friend to just feel her on the other end, to hear her tell me that I would survive, that my babies would survive, and that I was not a bad mother. I’d reply, “There is not a shred of folded laundry in this house,” “Liam (my oldest) has been watching TV for the past 6 hours” or “There is always someone (often me) crying.” That first year was hard on my sanity. It was then that I really felt this truth deep in my bones: We are not meant to do this alone. Yes, we are hard-wired to birth our babies with other women. And to cook with other women, weave with other women, bleed with other women, and raise our babies with other women.
I have found that by working in partnership, the work slice of my pie satisfies my craving for living and working in community with other women. When we first meet with couples, we usually explain that we work as a team. It goes way beyond working as a team. We work in sisterhood.
We are a two-person matriarchal society. That is, decisions are made based on what is best for all affected, not an individual’s interests. So when we get a call that a woman is in labor, and she is ready for her doula, it is sometimes clear who is best fit to serve this particular family. Other times, motherhood calls one of us to be present for an important event in our child’s life, or to stay home with a sick child. On these days, there is peace in knowing that my sister-doula is attending this family that we have both grown close to, instead of an unknown backup.
So when I send an instant message to Simone while I am cooking dinner, regarding an insight into a particular client’s situation, it might not be quite the same as literally stirring the soup together, but it comes close. When we gather in a client’s living room- Simone with her pre-midwifery and massage skills, and I leading birth art and meditation, we make a superdoula- providing deeper service than either of us could do alone. When we work together to encapsulate a placenta the energy that flows into those capsules is love and support. This work feeds my soul, and to share it in sisterhood not only makes the experience richer for the women we serve, it truly makes it women’s work.