My Story, Rachel Layman, Mother of 3, Wife, Birth Doula
by Rachel Layman on 07/22/16
In 1989 I was a banking professional and ready to have my first child. From my first touch of Trevor's skin I fell in love with my son and the world of childbirth. Little did I know that a few years later I would be asked by a friend to assist as her Doula at her own birth. I discovered from that first Doula experience that I felt comfortable in my role as a labor coach and that I had an ability to comfort and reassure women before, during and after their labor. My friends encouraged me to practice as a Doula and they would seek me out for advice and comfort during their child bearing years.
In 1991 I birthed my second born, my angel Spencer, in his 37th week of gestation. He passed away while inside of me. I made the journey of delivering him vaginally with the help of induction measures to help my body start the process of contractions and labor. My reflections surrounding his birth have been rather extensive and have brought me to a place of Bereavement Doula Work.
My third son, my home birth, was my final triumph as a woman in her birthing years. My husband, Robert, our son, midwife and doula were present to help me bring Myles into this world with ease and swiftness. My water broke while I was walking in my beautiful backyard. I remember I was holding onto the post of the swingset during a great contraction and it just burst into the grass. It was after 1am as I called out to Robert that I had just fertilized the lawn. With barely time to spare, my baby was born on my living room floor by candle light in the peaceful hours of the night. An hour and forty minutes of labor, an hour of postpartum time for our midwife, Beverly to care for our new baby and me and we were tucked into bed comfortably and asleep before long.
As the years went by, I was asked by different women to be with them at their births. Attending at homebirths, hospital births, natural, induced, or epidural, it didn't matter to me as long as I was able to comfort the mother and help guide her along her personal journey of birthing her child.
We were a homeschooling family, not religious, not overtly naturalists, just middle of the road in ideology. However, regarding my family I was very hands on and discovered my independence regarding healthcare, childcare and education.
During this time of raising my family I assisted at some births, however I put becoming a full time Doula on hold because I knew that I would not be able to figure childcare for my kids if I was on call and had to be away.
Upon entering my middle years and acknowledging that my children were now grown men and living on their own and self sufficient, I came face to face with the fact that I needed to re-define myself, to find my purpose again and offer something of myself to others. I discovered after my kids moved out on their own to lead productive lives that I had fulfilled my purpose as a mother. Equally, having been a stay at home wife and mother and fulfilling all of my responsibilities in taking care of everyone and everything at home, I came to realize I needed to keep giving out to others, but how was the question.
Contemplating all that I had accomplished, and all of my experiences throughout my life, I kept coming back to my love and joy that I feel through assisting women as they experienced childbirth. With encouragement from my family and friends I chose my new direction, my new path to personal fulfillment. Born was the name, Chosen Path Doula Services. The name spoke to me in two ways, the first as it describes me, the second as it describes a woman's chosen path she takes through her childbirth. The name continued to resonate for me; I knew that was the right name for my new Doula business. I have a love for nature and butterflies and their metamorphosis to their higher purpose. The process of human childbirth is much the same for women and in light of that I asked my mother, Kay to sketch out a tree branch and butterfly metamorphosis. My logo was born from her beautiful artwork. I chose the Zebra Longwing as my butterfly because it is the butterfly for the state of Florida.
If in our lifetime we can help others along the way by utilizing our own passions and strengths It is then that we have "morphed" to our higher purpose. It is my greatest desire to empower, encourage and gently nurture women during their birthing years.
Thank you for reading my story and my reflection.
Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend: Doula.