Doula & Instructor in Katy, TX
In my life outside birth work, I’m a writer, homeschooling parent of two boys, collector of many things, and when I start petting dogs I find it very hard to stop. My first child was a surprise. I was newly married and thoroughly unprepared for pregnancy. Still, I did my best to educate myself and hoped for a vaginal birth, despite low self-confidence in my ability to achieve it. I was on bedrest for five weeks, switched care providers four times due to encountering many red flags, and struggled with prenatal anxiety. Though the labor was met with unnecessary interventions and less-than-compassionate care providers, I was proud of myself. I did it — I grew and birthed my healthy baby!
Then came postpartum depression, and as I finally emerged from that fog, I realized how unsatisfied, angry, bullied, traumatized, and robbed I felt, in regard to much of the birth experience. Labor had brought me to my knees and I was actively submerged in it for some time — then the nervous energy of others began to throw me off, and when we got to the hospital, it really went downhill. I didn’t really feel the “magic” until I brought my baby to my chest and saw his slippery pink face for the first time. Of course, I didn’t even know what kind of magic was missing until after my second labor.
Eventually, the double pink lines showed up and I got to work on actively manifesting what I wanted — not like last time, stuffing my brain with facts and otherwise relying on high hopes. My husband and I signed up for the Birth Boot Camp Comprehensive series; I skipped sensationalist birth books and shows; I stayed low-risk to be eligible for home birth; I learned about ‘orgasmic birth’ and how to rewire my brain to enjoy labor and birth as a pleasurable, positively powerful, peak life experience; I did the dirty work of confronting subconscious fears. However things would play out, it actually didn’t matter: I wanted the simplest of things and that was merely to truly love my birth. I wanted to give my second child the warm, homey welcome I had wished for my first. I didn’t wish to suffer again, and suffer I did not! Rather than feeling like a passive, compliant vessel to be forcibly emptied of my baby, I wanted to feel in control of my labor — and I did! I didn’t want to push, I wanted to breathe my baby down. So breathe, I did. In pregnancy, I remember telling myself a hundred times a day: “This is going to be AWESOME! Birth is going to feel AMAZING and I’ll love it.” I’ll tell you what, even when doubled over, feeling like I might burst open, or like I was hanging onto a runaway horse for dear life… I did feel amazing, and I did love it! A coincidence? I doubt it!
I do believe a woman’s perception of her birth experience is not merely a result of what happens TO her and how others treat her… but perhaps even more importantly, what is generated FROM her and how she treats herself. So love yourself, birth giver. Accept yourself and give yourself all the permissions. Go hard with that self-care. Mother your mind, body and soul like you really know and BELIEVE your baby is living within you, feeling what you feel and learning about the world from the unique, otherworldly connection you share in this phase of your relationship. Find and meet your fears, look them right in the eye, shake hands and agree to stay out of each other’s way. The powers of birth are not bigger than you — they ARE you.
I got bit by the birth bug when I began researching during my first pregnancy. (It was really more like a self-taught crash course out of the blue, so you can imagine how that went!). Usually when I get on a roll with something fascinating, I need to be jolted away before I’ll stop on my own. Well, despite many a jolt, I never stopped, because it seemed the path was leading me to the world of birth work — a place full of mystery, intrigue, beauty, and heart. Kind of hard to resist!
Breastfeeding advocacy is important to me, as are social justice issues including humanizing the birth experience, honoring the rule of informed consent, improving parental leave laws, and protecting the sacredness of postpartum. I’m also involved with educating my community about circumcision. I’m especially interested in working with young/teen parents, first-time parents, first-time natural birthers, and single parents.
I took Birth Boot Camp classes during my second pregnancy and was so impressed by the curriculum. It’s thorough, modern, and it appealed just as well to my husband. I had so much fun as a student in class, I thought how I’d love to become an instructor one day! Becoming a doula felt like a natural progression in this journey as I love to be “on the ground” in a birth setting, in the heart of the action, as well as in front of a class. BBC’s doula program looked challenging yet rewarding, and I knew it would provide a quality training for me.
I was trained as an instructor by Carmen Calvo in San Antonio (Hailie Wolfe was my doula trainer during the same week). It felt wonderful to be part of a group of intelligent, motivated women with whom I shared a passion for birth and a desire to help guide new parents and babies into the world.
I appreciated how BBC begins the program with independent work, like completing modules, reading, videos and so on. Then the in-person training follows, and everyone is on the same page with the same basis of knowledge. This is when we learned how to teach the curriculum. I felt well-prepared as I learn best with hands-on demonstrations, and it was helpful to be able to look my trainer in the eye and read her expressions and body language.
I teach group classes in the Katy, Richmond and West Houston area, and private classes all over Greater Houston. My favorite part of teaching is seeing the wheels turn in people’s brains as they get curious, ask questions, and consider new things. So much growth happens when we are open to learning, especially if the content brings up difficult feelings. I like trying to create a safe space for all kinds of feelings because that growth is priceless to the birth experience.
“Holly is an amazing instructor! I was hesitant to spend that much money on a birthing class considering how the hospital offers it at a cheaper rate. However, it was worth every single penny because this class really educates you on how to advocate for yourself and prepare for birth naturally. Many friends and family kept insisting a birthing class wasn’t necessary and ‘your body would know what to do.’ Granted that your body will know how to push, however, unforeseen circumstances can arise at which you must make a decision that you didn’t expect. This class definitely helped my husband advocate for me.” – Jessica N.