Yes. I am a fully certified labour and birth doula. Yes. I am twenty one. Yes. I have three years of experience and training behind me. No. I don't have kids. No. I am not married. No, I don't plan on having kids anytime soon. Yes. I can support you, just as fully as a mother of seventeen.
You did that math right, I did start my training in high school, just after my eighteenth birthday. I had to ask for extra work from my biology teacher to skip the days lesson to attend my doula training. My dad had to drive me into the 'big city' to attend my training where I sat in a room full of women who were much older than me, with a huge amount of life experience about to embark on this journey with me. Most with children, some pregnant and some finally following their passion after years of doing what they were told to do. There was one other 'under twenty' with me. We were both nervous. She's a sister to me now, I love her. We now can sit together in rooms of thirty year olds with sometimes double the experience and training. The best part though; we believe in ourselves. We know we know our shit. This took work though and didn't come overnight.
When you are a young doula, critique comes from every direction. Your mom, grandma, your uncle, your client's male doctor, a customer at your cashier job you use to pay for schooling, your partner's co-workers, literally everyone. They automatically think you're weird and out of your mind.
At seventeen most of my friends were deciding on becoming nurses, school teachers, or starting school in general subjects to get their lives going. I have never followed the crowd which is how I landed here. I literally can't remember a day of my life not wanting to be a birth worker. I had wanted to be an OBGYN since fifth grade, my ninth grade gym teacher was a second attendant and my tenth grade photography teacher was a huge advocate for midwifery care. I was taught and educated and finally researched about doula work. I knew I landed my dream job, and signed up for a training taking place in two weeks time.
I'm not a twenty-something year old doula with nothing but dreams and wishes. I am a twenty-something doula with three years of schooling, reading, classes, workshops, research, building, creating, experiencing, supporting, learning, loving, crying, sweating, sleepless-nighting and educating. More than some fifty-something doula's can say. I still have years ahead of me to continue bettering myself for my clients, but in the meantime I know that my age means nothing. My experience and education means everything.
I have had clients not question my age until I brought it up in conversation. I have been asked for advice from longtime mom's. My age has never held me back from supporting clients of all ages and walks of life. Educating and shocking them with facts, history and their birth rights.
To the family and friends who think I'm crazy; I know, but I'm crazy enough to follow my passion. To the male doctors who question my career choice because I have never given birth before.. 'uhh sir...'. and to the future clients who are uncomfortable with a doula younger than them, give me a shot and I promise you won't be disappointed.