doula path is an interesting one, but one that is very familiar to so
many others in this field of work. Before I became a doula, I was in
the medical field. After losing my 4 year old sister to a rare cancer
called Retinablastoma in 1990 (we were 18 years apart in age), I plunged
myself into the cancer field with the intention of helping cancer patients
in one way or another. I started out at a low-level position at Children’s
Hospital LA, ironically, (or maybe not) the very place my sister was
treated and passed away. I climbed the corporate ladder with a vengeance,
and was lucky enough to end up with a prominent position at UCLA four
years later as the Assistant Division Manager of their Cancer Center.
After five years there, I was promoted to being the Manager of the UCLA
AIDS Center and
I had been reading research on the benefits of massage and bodywork in relation to cancer and AIDS patients, and I was disappointed to learn that many therapists (at that time) were reluctant to work with AIDS patients due to the disease. That was enough to motivate me to go to massage school. I became a massage therapist in 1999 working primarily with cancer and AIDS patients on the side from my UCLA job. After a few years in the AIDS Center, I was then entic
ed to go into industry by a double increase in salary and being recruited to run a private company that produced and developed HIV and Urology medical education out of Beverly Hills as their Director of Operations. I was about as high on that “ladder” as I had ever dreamed I could be . . . . . and I was miserable! I didn't believe in what I was doing, and the corporate world had burned me out. I wasn’t happy with the ethics being practiced in everyday medicine, the people, the tactics, the strategies and the overall environment – at this point in my life, it was toxic for me.
I came to somewhat of a “cross-roads” and this is what you hear most often from practicing doulas – they talk about this big decision making time where the doula profession introduces itself. I got pregnant and was seeing my OB-GYN at UCLA when one of the nurses that I had known for over 7 years said “you know, you should really become a doula”. I had no idea what she was talking about and responded “isn’t that a big truck?” (thinking of the word “dooley”). To make a long story short, I looked into it. The idea of changing fields was refreshing, and since I personally embrace change anyways in my everyday life (check out the variety of hairstyles I sport in my photo gallery!!) , I was excited. I was fortunate that the company I was working for was going under, and because I was under contract, they had to pay me out. I then spent the last three months of my pregnancy being paid a hefty salary and strategizing how I would build my new doula business.
I jumped in head-first and decided I would be a full-time doula from the start. I did the doula training with a wonderful woman named Ellie Shea in Torrance (www.doulabirthpartners.com). I set the goal for myself to be certified within 3 months – and I did it. At the doula training we watched a video called ‘Birth Into Being” which was a documentary of the Russian Water Birth Camps and water birth. I decided then and there, I wanted to have a water birth with my 3rd child. My first two children were delivered in the hospital using drugs and an epidural. In many ways, I felt this was my first labor and delivery. I was definitely more educated and informed this time around, considering my new profession. I hooked up with a local Midwife who took me under her wing. In her practice, (The Natural Birthing Center in Simi Valley (www.naturalbirthing.com) I became a doula for her patients. Things snowballed, and before I knew it, I was a delivery assistant and had my own bodywork room there where I now do massage, pregnancy massage, reflexology, labor inductions, teach childbirth classes and conduct hypnosis sessions for labor and delivery.
I have been at the Birthing Center now for two years. I work on clinic days there (M, W F). The other days of the week I am a full-time mommy, work on my business ideas, conduct meetings with new clients, teach classes, and go to soccer games. So, I now find myself in a profession that has infinite rewards and I can wake up and go to sleep feeling good about what I do for a living. I exchanged my 6 figure salary for the opportunity to witness the miracle of life over and over again (and let me tell you – it never gets boring or redundant!). I get to establish friendships with remarkable women and their partners, and have the privilege of being part of the most amazing process there is. Many of my past doula clients are now my close personal friends. I have to admit, I am still in awe every time I see a baby come into this world after over more than 150 births. It still amazes me that in one moment they are in their mother’s belly, and the next they’re playing with my finger and looking at me with all the innocence and purity in the world . . . Not bad for a days work . . .
Cell (818) 645-4692
Home (818) 348-4065
Website created by Andrea Barkley