All of us have a small handful of memories from our childhood that shape who we are. Not the same handful of memories that are the big stuff. No, that's a different handful--the one with being hoisted on teammates' shoulders after winning a big game, and the first time you traveled all on your own, and the only real fight you were ever in. The memories that aren't memorable at the time, the glimpses and moments we look back on when we need clarity and allow our minds to wander, they are the reasons we are now who we have become.
I was driving the other day to soccer practice (I am now officially a Soccer Mom and I couldn't possibly be more tickled!) and I recalled a conversation I had with my mother when I was in the third grade. The story has been shared by my mother several times since it happened, in a very different context, so it is not as if it were repressed, but it hadn't happened upon it in my mind for several years. Certainly not since I began my career as a doula.
The conversation was about a librarian at my school disallowing me access to a book I wanted to read. I'd heard something about S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders, and I wanted to read it. The author was only 15 when she wrote it, and since I knew I wanted to be a writer, this exhilarated me. At the Christ Church Episcopal Lower School library, I was told I could not check the book out, because I was too young, as the book had a gun on the cover.
After I told my mother what happened, she said this:
Honey, you have got to be your own best advocate. There will be times when even I won't be around and you will have to do all you can to let people know how you want and deserve to be treated. There isn't anybody who knows those things better than you.
Be my own best advocate, she had instructed me. And I have not forgotten that. Throughout the years, I have had to advocate for myself to peers, professors, bosses, even doctors. But what my mother had told me--that I knew better than anyone how I want and deserve to be treated--galvanized me.
I went into the library with my mother the next day, her silent support propping me up, and asked politely to speak to the librarian. My mother stood back as I told the lady that I had permission from my mother to read whatever I pleased, and that I would like to check out the book, and that I would like to be able to check out any book for then on. It was scary to tell someone for whom I had such respect and even reverence what I wanted and what I needed. but I did, and from that day on, I read every single book S. E. Hinton ever wrote.
That's what great doulas do.
They do not advocate.
At Intown Doula, we will not advocate for you. We are not your advocates. We will not speak for you, we will not be your proxy, we will not dampen or dilute your power; we honor you too much to do that. If you have a partner, we will not supersede him or her; we value his or her contribution too much to do that. We will not interfere with your chosen hospital and care provider or their policies and protocol; we respect them too much to do that.
We will provide you with the support, information, education, and compassion you need to stand and speak for yourself. The reason? It's this simple:
We know that you are your own best advocate.
And at Intown Doula, we never want you to have anything but the very best.