My first client as a labor doula was a pro bono situation. In order to become a Certified Labor Doula from Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA) I had to attend three births and get three references from each birth (the doctor/midwife, a nurse and the client).
"E" was an interesting mom-to-be. She was a first timer; young, funny, whip smart and about 6 feet tall. (For mental illustrative purposes, I am five feet, two inches; we were an odd couple.) I first met "E" through a "crisis pregnancy center", ie: a place where they talk you out of abortions. A lot of new doulas advertise their services everywhere to "get" those three births. While I am pro-choice, I am also pro-getting-employed. Her boyfriend was "S"; short, stout, white, looked like Barney Rubble. We were an odd trio at the local hospital where "E" was giving birth.
Needless to say, attending my first birth was a heady mix of wonder, awe, and excitement. I was up for 2 days straight with little sleep and loads of coffee but remained "in the zone". I, at times, felt like there was a lot of doing nothing and then a lot of supporting. Labor is an ebb and flow situation as it is. I was slightly nervous about the hospital staff; in training you would hear horror stories of nurses and doctors versus doulas, thinking we're all nosy, interfering, bored housewife, birth junkie, vegetarians. While I am, to this day, a leg shaving, meat eating, medicine is a good tool used properly in birth kind of doula, I tried very hard to tiptoe around the hospital staff. I even brought Dunkin' Donuts to the Nurses' Station on the maternity floor.
When all was said and done, "E" and "S" had a new daughter, "J". Perfect and round, completely healthy. I received the following "endorsement" from "E" for my certification packet:
"Jennifer Mossholder is a wonderful, caring, sincere doula coach. I am more than happy that I got in contact with her. I don't know what I would have done if Jennifer was not at my labor to support my partner and I. She spent hours on hours at the hospital with me. Took my hand and held me through every contraction. Any expecting mother who gets Jennifer as a doula is getting more than a coach, they are getting a friend."
I was bowled over. I use this reference to this day; not only for new clients looking for a reference, but a reference for myself, my own self esteem when I think I am doing everything wrong. Validation is as necessary as air.
Here is the doctor's review of me from that same birth:
"I initially thought she was a knowledgeable family member because she had such a good rapport with the patient and her husband. This patient in particular benefited greatly from her presence."