As I watched the Columbus skyline disappeared in the rear view mirror of my boyfriend's Chevy Avalanche loaded down with all of my earthly possessions, I had the strangest mix of emotions in the pit of my stomach. Excitement. Fear. Sadness. Nausea.
For the first in my almost 21 years of life, I would be calling somewhere else home. I wasn't sure how to feel about that. Even when I went to college, I was still only 15 or 20 minutes from home. I still saw my parents every other week or so. I lived with my best friends and saw them everyday. The only thing missing was that my boyfriend had graduated and moved 3 hours south to Louisville.
And now that man that I was taking a leap of faith and moving in with was in the driver's seat next to me, and everyone else that I knew and loved and every ounce of the life that I had lived was contained in that skyline that now was a speck growing smaller and smaller.
If I had a doula in the back seat behind me, she would've put a hand on my shoulder and told me it was okay. It was okay to feel both ridiculously excited for this new adventure with a guy that I was crazy about and excited to be on a new career path, while simultaneously being scared out of my ever loving mind.
But I didn't have a doula. And there wasn't room for her in the back seat with all of my hastily packed crap thrown back there anyway. So instead I plastered on a smile while being wracked with guilt for being anything less than thrilled.
When home doesn't feel like home
The following week, I accepted my first full time job, but my start date wasn't for another month. And that month felt darker than anything else I'd ever experienced at that point. I was in a new apartment that didn't feel like mine, in a city that didn't feel like mine, and the only person I knew was at work 8+ hours a day. I remembered that feeling I had my first week of college: like this was summer camp and I would soon be going home. Except, this was decidedly less fun. And I felt very alone, very vulnerable, and very dependent on my partner. None of that was something I was used to.
That month of slowly slipping into depression was punctuated by my best friend's wedding back in Columbus. Mixed with the absolute joy of being part of the best day of her life were feelings of "holy crap, this is actually happening, we're actually growing up" and "wow, Columbus doesn't feel like home anymore, either". My friend's lives were going on without me. The city hadn't paused until I returned, and anyway every return from now on would be a temporary trip instead of "going home".
If I'd had a doula, she would have told me that this was all normal. That I wasn't weak for missing home or being afraid. That everyone has those crippling moments of "Oh my gosh, I'm actually a grown up. I have no idea what I'm doing". She would gently remind me to get out of the house, because I always feel so much better outside and around people. She would stand with me at the "new2lou" meet-ups.
She would tell my boyfriend that my sadness wasn't his fault: that he hadn't taken me from my friends and family and the people that made me happy like a thief in the night. She would remind him that he makes me happy, and that's why I had decided to move in the first place.
Most of all, just having her there as an impartial other would have helped me feel not so alone. I didn't feel like I could talk to my boyfriend without making him feel guilty. I didn't feel like I could talk to my friends back home because I didn't think they would get it. I didn't want my parents to know I was anything less than okay. My doula could've been my shoulder to lean on, if I had her.
Doulas: support through life's transitions
Things ended up being okay. Better than okay, even.
In the year and a half or so since I moved to Louisville, I started (and ended) a career in the nursing field. I’ve made great friends while keeping in close touch with the ones I left behind. Me and the guy that I was crazy enough about to leave everything behind for are doing better than ever. I have absolutely fallen in love with Louisville, from Cherokee Park to the lists and lists of delicious local restaurants that I haven’t even made a dent in, to long drives along the river. This place certainly feels like home now, and I couldn’t be happier.
And maybe the best thing about the current state of my new life is that I have a career that I love as a labor and postpartum doula, a childbirth educator, a postpartum placenta specialist, and a doula agency owner.
I survived. I made it through without a doula, but it would have been so much easier had I had one.
When you’re going through a big transition, whether a move, a career change, a marriage, a death in the family, or the birth of a child, life gets flipped upside down. No matter if you’ve physically changed locations or not, life feels less like “home” than it once did.
That’s where doulas come in. With gentle understanding and judgment free comfort, we help make your new life feel like home again. When you’re expecting or taking care of a new baby, we stand beside you and help create an environment of order, celebration, organization, safety, and joy so that you feel as comfortable as possible right where you are.
Whatever transition you’re at, just know that you can make it through on your own. But with a doula, you don’t have to.