Podcast Episode #1: One and Done! Alyssa's Doula Journey
In this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa shares about her birth experience and her decision to have only child, as well as her journey to becoming a postpartum doula. You can listen to the complete podcast on iTunes.
Kristin: Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas. I’m Kristin.
Alyssa: And I’m Alyssa.
Kristin: And our topic today is all about why we decided to become doulas, so we’ll begin with Alyssa’s journey.
Alyssa: Yeah, so I used to work in a male-dominated field. I worked in the construction industry, and then I got pregnant, had a baby, and I think as with most women, they would say it just completely rocked their world. The way I saw things changed, and I wasn’t unhappy at my job, but I knew I needed to do something different. So I started to wonder, who’s helping all these women who are having hard pregnancies and they don’t have any support once they come home? And the term “doula” is something that I knew, but I didn’t know what a postpartum doula was, and I remember, Kristin, meeting you, and you were the first one who actually said the term “postpartum doula” to me, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that exists?” And I started researching it, and I’m like, that’s it. That’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. So I started looking into certification organizations, found one, and it fit well. I took the course, and they give you 18 months to complete it, but I am a total bookwork and nerd, and I think it took me about six months. I got all my bookwork, all my essays and reading and all the clients that I needed and everything that is supposed to take 18 months. And then I just did it, and I just have always felt compelled to help women and children, and it was even stronger after having a baby.
Kristin: We were in the same training together, which is pretty awesome.
Alyssa: Yeah, so I’ve known you since the beginning of my journey.
Kristin: Yeah, it’s so cool. So it was during pregnancy that you sort of started feeling different about the woman’s journey and experience through motherhood. What were your family planning options as far as future kids and how you handle your journey as a mother?
Alyssa: It’s funny. Family planning turned into a whole new concept because you spend so many years trying not to get pregnant, and then all of a sudden, you are trying to, and it’s more difficult than you expect. And we ended up – I think I was 33 when I got pregnant and 34 when I had her, and that is by no means old, but something in me said that I don’t want to have kids past 35. So I decided when we had her, when we had our daughter, we were going to give it a year, and then make that decision then. But I kind of knew right away that we only wanted one, and it’s really strange because my husband and I both grew up with siblings. And so as far as family planning, we didn’t really think about that during pregnancy, but knowing that we were kind of going into this being “one and done,” we had – yeah, that’s the first thing my midwife asked me at my six-week checkup is, “What’s your family planning? How are you planning for your future family?” And I don’t know yet. I don’t know. So yeah, we’re just good with one, and it’s been taken care of.
Kristin: And do people, especially in West Michigan that’s so family-centered, ask you and your husband a lot of questions about whether you’re going to have another baby or have a sister or brother for your child?
Alyssa: Of course they do. You know, the second you get married, it’s – well, first you’re dating, and it’s, “When are you getting married? When are you getting married?” And it’s pry, pry, pry. And then you get married, and it’s, “When are you having a baby? When are you having a baby?” And it’s all these prying questions with the best of intentions, and they just want to see you have a baby, but knowing what I know now and all the struggles people go through, it’s a really tough question to ask and an even tougher one to answer. And I feel like when you have baby number one, trying for baby number two, it’s still the same. Just because you had baby number one doesn’t mean it’s easy to have baby number two. I have friends who are struggling and have struggled for years to have baby number two. And it’s just not a question that should be asked, but I do. I get it all the time.
Kristin: It’s a very personal question.
Alyssa: Yeah, when I say that I only want one, I get the, like, smack-across-the-face guilt. “How can you only have one? You’re doing your daughter a disservice. She needs a sibling.” You know, they know better than I do, apparently. But we love our little family of three, and really, it just boils down to: it’s nobody else’s business. It’s my family, not theirs.
Kristin: Right, and you travel a lot, so it makes it so much easier with one child to have a very active life.
Alyssa: Yeah, we love to travel, and she’s been on an airplane since she was nine weeks old, and she’s so easy and so good. She’s our little world traveler. Not that we couldn’t do it with two, but it would be a heck of a lot harder, especially when you’re paying for an extra plane ticket and then you need extra rooms when they get older. So, I mean, part of it’s selfish reasons, right? It’s easy for us; she’s great; she’s easy; we can travel. We’re a little bit older. Not too old; I mean, I have friends who are having babies right now that are 38, 40, 41. It’s what’s too old for you? How do you feel? And for me, for some reason, it was 35. Maybe because my mom was 35. My dad was nine years older, so I saw that growing up, too, having parents who were older than the rest of my friends’ parents, and my father almost being their grandparents’ age.
Kristin: Yeah, I’m one of the oldest moms on the playground, that’s for sure.
Alyssa: I don’t mind it. We’re older and wiser.
Kristin: Yeah, for sure. So do you love holding babies, since you’re not having any more babies of your own?
Alyssa: I do. I get my baby fix all the time. I love it. I absolutely love it. And you know, honestly, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I had another kid. It’s a lot of work. One’s hard. My clients who have toddlers and then a newborn are sometimes – they can’t even comprehend how much extra work that is. And I wouldn’t be able to be helping and supporting clients the way I do now if I had more children.
Kristin: You’d be supporting your own family.
Alyssa: Right. So there’s always a give and take. I know my daughter would be an amazing big sister. I know she would. But there’s a give and take. She gets 100% of my attention and all my love and gets to come everywhere with us, and she’s my little buddy.
Kristin: And she has cousins, lots of cousins.
Alyssa: Yeah, lots of cousins, lots of friends. My husband and I going into this said we’re going to make a point to just socialize her. She will go places with us; we will bring friends; we’ll be the family that says, “Pick a friend. They’ll come to Disney with us.” It’s still cheaper than having another kid to bring a friend places occasionally. But there’s always a give and take, and ultimately, it’s each family’s personal decision, and it just kind of stinks that other people have to make you feel bad for what feels good for you. We love our little family of three.
Kristin: So what’s your best advice to a family or client who plans to only have one child and doesn’t know how to break the news to their family and circle of friends?
Alyssa: It’s hard. Based on personalities, I’ve heard people say flat-out, “It’s none of your business,” and I don’t go that route. I don’t think there’s a need to be rude or brash with people, but you can say, “That’s a nice thought,” or “Maybe that works for your family, but this works for ours.”
Kristin: Perfect. I love it. Well, thanks for listening, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this episode. Remember, these moments are golden.
Alyssa: And I will be interviewing Kristin next episode to talk about her journey and her story. So stay tuned.