The Birth of a Doula

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At their most fundamental, a doula is presence personified.  Of course we offer a trained set of hands to help a birthing family through some of the most intense moments they will face:

becoming and actually BEING new parents. 

But ultimately at the end of the day, what a doula truly does is authentically, organically, unconditionally support you.  We offer you, in addition to experience and training, our most authentic selves, to inspire confidence and empowerment into the families we serve.

Trying to cram that into an elevator speech at a professional networking event is awkward at best.  The truth is though,

I don't have a fancy or funny origin story. 

It wasn't a traumatic or fantastic birth I felt the need to fix or share.  

What drove me to become a doula, and open the first full-spectrum doula agency in Virginia, is the women who surround me and inspire me to be fully present to what we can do, so the things we cannot become fewer and less significant.

The people who inspire me the most are the women who show up each day, doing the next hard, and next right thing. 

The artists, the dreamers, the doers.  The story-tellers, the wisdom-keepers, the comedians who know how to say the right thing to keep it both real and light.  It's not the fantasy of snuggling newborns all day that brought me to this work, but the real, honest and open discussions of motherhood, of both simultaneously losing and finding self, and how heartbreaking and frightening and messy it all inevitably is.

I became a doula because when I looked around, my entire life was filled with people who are always the first to show up

to watch your kid or bring you food when you are sick or tired or just sick and tired.  The ranks of my inspiration are filled with women who have no idea they are doing the impossible, Every. Single. Day.

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Women who fill my cup and set my soul on fire because they are real and honest, and true to themselves, whatever that means right now.  They are the people who do the hard thing in front of me, like they have no idea they are doing it.  We need more bravery and passion and work being done in the world. More mothering. More inspiring. More doula-ing.

Becoming a mother was not my doula origin story.  Watching the strongest, most amazing, charismatic women I know shoulder each other's burdens, lifting, helping, supporting.  Loving. BE-ING.  Breaking down, coming together, helping. This is why I became a doula. My history and present have been filled with authentic, genuine, presence.   

How could I not put this back into the world? 

Into families when they are their most vulnerable, most confused, most in need of these qualities?  The humor, the reality of a ridiculous and exhausting and beautiful life means that if we just show up for one another, there is nothing we can't do.

That is why I made this work my career. Why I work with families *after* they have babies and not just during labor. And why I am a great doula. 

Victoria McCollum

Victoria McCollum is a birth and postpartum doula and owner of Doulas of Fredericksburg, in Fredericksburg, Virgina. She resides there with her husband and three precocious sons.