Heartfelt Memories of My Kindergartener's First Day

I remember so vividly the first day of school. Not for myself because let's be honest, that was awhile ago. I'm talking about the first time I dropped my daughter off at the front doors of her elementary school. Those feeling were real, raw, and filled with emotions many can't fathom until they are in the depths of them themselves. Let me tell you, it's not for the faint of heart. There is a realization that occurs as you give one last hug, one last glance, and one last I love you before turning around and heading back home or to work. It's a realization that when well meaning people told you time flies, they weren't fabricating it. It's a realization that although you've nurtured your kiddo to the point of school, you really never thought the day would actually come. It's a realization that a new start has begun and there is no turning back.  You've entered into a new kind of normal.

Yes, a new kind of normal. It's a bizarre feeling to enter into a completely quiet house. It's odd to have the opportunity to actually pee alone and to finish a cup of coffee while it's still hot. It's complete insanity to have time to pick out what to wear for the day and put on actual makeup and not just chapstick and a spot of powder. (for those with younger children at home, this day will come, I promise!) Throughout the day you check the live class updates for any chance there might be a photo of your precious little squish. You pull out your phone and surf through photos of that morning. You smile at their snaggle tooth and the backpack that sags to their ankles. You begin counting the minutes until you pick them up, or they arrive safely home on the school bus.


The time has arrived! You quickly move to greet the bus driver and a huge grin is smeared across your little girls face. She jumps off the final step and her backpack bounces and nearly knocks her off balance. 

"How was your day?"

"It was awesome!"

"Did you miss me?"

"Kind of, but I had so much fun!"

Year after year I'm brought back to that first day. The backpack now fits properly, she packs her own lunch, tells me school was fine, and loves shopping. As I said, a new kind of normal. It's ever evolving into something more beautiful and different than the year before. Relish in these moments and soak the memories deep into your soul. Laugh a lot, create deep meaningful bonds, and hold tight to the memories of all of those firsts. As you know, they only happen once!

Top 5 Tips for Traveling by Plane

Being a doula trainer has brought about a multitude of experiences for me. Nearly 14 years ago, I boarded my first ever flight, but never did much traveling after that. I knew the basic ins and outs of travel, but I was definitely not the seasoned traveler I am today. Over the last year, I’ve picked up a few tricks that have helped me tremendously as I’ve gone city to city, sometimes cross country, and over seas. 


1.) Get Pre-check

Pre check was a game changer for me. It allowed me to arrive at airports a bit later and move through security check points smoothly. The process was fairly easy and required an hour drive to a verification site, finger printing, and presenting forms of identification. It took around a week to process, although they told me that of my finger prints were “common” it might take up to three weeks. Apparently, I have pretty unique prints, which was wonderful. It’s important to know that not all airports offer pre-check and some that do only open up pre-check lines when they are experiencing high volume. For that reason, I choose airports to fly out of that are higher volume. You wouldn't think that pulling liquids and electronics out of your bag would be that big of a deal, but when you fly a lot it becomes quite a nuisance. I love walking right up, handing my ID and boarding pass to the TSA officer and moving right through. My bags go right up on the conveyer and I walk through a metal detector and not the large scanning devices. I do want to point out that there are occasional bag checks for even those who have gone through the pre-check process. I try to not get annoyed by this because the unpredictability of it is for my safety overall and the lines are still much faster and shorter.


2.) Get the airline Apps

Airline apps can be  life savers. I am a Delta girl through and through and when possible I fly the friendly skies with them. If the airplane is wifi enabled, you can check your flight status, book flights, check on the gate you will be arriving at as well as the gate you will be flying out of (if you have a connecting flight). This can all be done for free through the app, which is really nice.  Many airlines also offer free entertainment including movies, television shows, and even live newscasts. Entertainment helps the hours go by much faster and I’ve been able to catch relatively new releases so it’s not just outdated movie options. Make sure you have it downloaded before take off!


3.) Zone 3

I always felt like boarding the plane early was best, but I’ve come to realize that’s not the case. If you don't fly often, you probably aren’t aware at how unorganized the boarding process truly is. I still cannot figure out why they don't board window seats first, then middle, and finally aisle. Instead, everyone gets herded in and end up having to leave their seats as others come to their row. Since I hate getting up multiple times during a flight, I enjoy boarding last! Getting on early doesn't mean you will reach your destination any earlier so why not sit back and relax in the terminal a bit longer? Airlines like Southwest have alternative options without assigned seats. In these cases, the earlier you board the better or you’ll be stuck with a dreaded middle seat. 


4.) Gotta go!

Something rarely discussed in travel is the use of the restrooms. When traveling all day, it can be difficult to plan stops, even for the most regular of travelers. Truly though, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go and I think this warrants being spoken about. There is nothing worse that waiting in line for 20 minutes and walking into a stall that has urine all over the seat or that smells bad for the obvious reasons. There is also nothing worse than knowing that you are the one leaving behind the smell for the next lucky person. Now, maybe some of you aren’t embarrassed by this sort of thing, but I know it’s a taboo and embarrassing subject for some. So what do you do? Grab a bottle of Poopourri or the AirWick version. It’s small enough to bring into the airport in your carry on and a few sprays in the toilet makes for a perfect containment system as well as air freshening upon flushing. no more snarling your nose upon entering and no more rushing the hand washing to get out of the bathroom before the person behind you comes out and you make dreaded eye contact. You laugh, but you know exactly what I’m talking about. Travel size Clorox wipes make for a quick clean up if the seat has been sprinkled. Fold it over a few times and wipe it down-it's perfect!


5.) Check that bag

I’m always asked at the ticketing counter if I am checking my carry on as well and I always tell them no. Know why? I never pay for the second bag because the majority of time the airline will run out of overhead space and check it for free to your final destination at the gate. I patiently await the call over the intercom that space is limited and graciously head up to the counter and allow them to check it. This is especially helpful if you have a tight connection and you don't need everything in your bag. I always bring a large personal item to accommodate any items I might need on the journey. My favorite is the Never Full bag. It holds a lot of stuff and still fits beautifully underneath the seat in front of me.


As you travel more and more you will come up with helpful hints of your own. Add your personal tips below as I can always use more. Until then, Farewell and have a safe flight!

The Fear of Being Me

I've been working on myself for awhile. I think it's part of growing up and getting older. Maybe it's because after years of worry, I'm coming into my own at the age of 36 (almost 37, WHAT?) and I'm feeling more confident in who I am. Maybe it's because my give a damn is truly coming to a point of being busted. 

As a young girl I was exposed to social media. It was just starting and wasn't to the point it is today. Cyber bullying was existent, but it wasn't nearly as volatile.  Although it was relatively new, it impacted me in various ways. It taught me to keep to myself, play nice, and never poke a sleeping bear. It also taught me self reflection and to be inhibited.

In college, my favorite class was magazine writing. Dr. Hurlow instilled in us, a love for writing that I'd never known. I had always been forced to write in middle and high school and deeply despised it. She gave me the gift of understanding that I could impact others with words. She would delicately go over our submissions, mark them up, and talk about how we could make them even better. She encouraged us to write about whatever appealed to us, whatever brought joy, resolution, and passion. I'm forever grateful.

Over the years, I've been though some very difficult times. I've watched family and friends be slaughtered by social media. I've watched those I care deeply about be accused of horrible things, made to look like a menace to society, and be called reprehensible names. Those days have stuck with me for a long time. They shoved me into silence and timidness.

I lost my joy. I lost my need to creatively write. I lost my purpose, passion, and drive to put words onto paper for others to read. I'm digging deep right now to put my words on your screen. I'm taking a deep breath as I press submit. My stomach churns as I share it in various groups. My heart skips a beat as I see the number of shares. 

My point is, this isn't easy. Blogging is one of the hardest things I've done in awhile, but also one of the most freeing. What is holding you back in your personal or professional life? What's causing you to be timid, angry and unable to reflect? What's snuffing out your passion, purpose, and drive? What's causing a reaction instead of a response?


Doulas and Daughters: Why The Doula Profession Matters

Being a doula is a job that encompasses compassion, kindness, and attunement. As I comfort a woman in labor, I’m reminded of my purpose. I’m reminded that her experience matters and that the gift she is about to hold, love, and cherish will be witnessed by me. I do not take that lightly and I hold her hand and her moments with great care and compassion. 

My daughter sits at home. She stares at me with big bright eyes. She grabs my phone and pretends to be me. “Hello, The Birth Haven, this is Julie.” She grins and giggles and I’m reminded that what I do not only strengthens the women I serve, but also the daughter who watches me. The daughter who has been told that she can live her life with purpose and passion and be anything she wants to be. The same exact words I hear my own clients murmor to their new precious babies as they’re placed on their chests for the first time.

As I think about all of the things that my daughter could be, I wonder if she will choose the profession I’ve chosen. The one that’s battling for a place at the professional table. The one that's fraught with contempt and disdain for women making better lives for themselves. Will she be caught in the crosshairs of being condemned for living a passionate life, serving others, and keeping the lights on? Will she be told that she’s too new, too inexperienced, and too green to make a real difference? Will she be torn apart for building her fellow professionals up, maintaining a healthy bank account, and giving back to the community through philanthropic endeavors the underserved populations desire?

Dear daughter of mine,

I want you to know something very important as you grow. I want you to know that you can be anything you want to be. I want you to know that I hope women fighting against the betterment of other women is not a battle you have to battle. You are smart, kind, compassionate, and trustworthy. You will find purpose in whatever you choose to do. If that happens to be becoming a doula, know I’ll support you. I’ll support you just like I’m supporting thousands of other women. I’ll support you as you stand up to giants and don't back down. I’ll remind you that although people may seem bigger than you, your voice is valid and deserves to be heard. I’ll remind you of the shining moment in my life when you were brought into my arms. As I kissed your sweet head and took in your intoxicating scent I was pronounced, Mother. 

Daughter, be who you want to be in this world. Be one who seeks elevation instead of slights and digs. Stand tall, be proud, and speak up to injustices. Remember that because you are a woman, you are strong. Allow your confidence to push you to understand the world around you in new and profound ways. Remember your honest sincerity and to love with abandon. You, daughter, will have a place at the professional table. Others like me are working to ensure that. We’re not settling for bickering about what you do and do not deserve. We’re working to ensure that whatever you choose to do, you’ll never have to choose others perceived needs over your own wellbeing.

You matter. Women matter. We matter.

Some Real Penny For Your Thoughts

Some Real Penny for your thoughts.png

Dear Penny Simkin,

I'd like to apologize to you. You may not remember me, but I sat on the DONA Board of Directors for a very short while. I pledged to make DONA better, listen to membership, and to paint DONA in a positive light. I wanted to create a clear direction, grow the organization, and to help make it a modern destination for doulas. I wanted the absolute best for the organization and the doulas it welcomed.

You might be wondering why I'm apologizing to you though.

 During my first board meeting, the room was filled with fighting and arguing.  I apologize that you heard many of them speak out against ProDoula with venom. I apologize that they spoke vitriol and made incorrect assertions that led you to believe such negativity about an organization you'd never heard of before that day. I'm sorry that I didn't stand up more than I did and stop it all together. I'm sorry that I left crying and didn't stop to check in with you and dispel some of the myths about doulas making a living doing what they love. I'm also sorry for not standing up for myself. In that meeting, I was the only one surrounding that board room table who answered a resounding yes when asked who actually made a living doing doula work. It left me shocked and saddened to know that the leadership itself wasn't even making a living. It showed me that the organization I loved dearly had no intention of seeing me provide for my family, but instead support women during labor.

Once I read your comment on a recent Buzzfeed article, my suspicions were realized and my heart broke yet again. I truly thought that you above all people would understand. You are a business women with book sales, trainings, and speaking engagements. You understand the need to make money doing the work you have loved over the years and it has sustained you well.

“The doula movement was founded on the needs of the woman,” said Penny Simkin, the beloved 78-year-old co-founder of DONA International, which bills itself as the world’s oldest, largest, and most respected doula-certifying organization. ProDoula’s business strategy “will do nothing for improving birth in this country,” she said, “and only improve their pocketbooks.”

I wonder if you realize that Randy and Debbie not only speak highly of you, but also make your book a required reading for their training. I wonder if anyone told you that they appreciate all of the work you have done. I wonder if you've been told you are held in high respect at our trainings. I wonder if they told you that Randy and Debbie offered to help DONA (just like I did) and were essentially ignored and shunned. I wonder if you truly understand the importance of what they are doing for this industry that you somehow believe they are destroying.

ProDoula seeks to elevate the role of doulas and to make it a viable career choice for all women desiring to do this work, not just privileged women. ProDoula was founded on the needs of the doula as well as the women desiring support. ProDoula's business strategy will indeed improve birth in this country while also improving the financial lives of doulas. 

A former DONA doula, 

Julie Six

See also: My DONA Story


Doulas Against Doctors and Hospitals Part 1

Over the years, I've watched as doulas have adopted a savior complex. It was as if they felt they had the power to save women from bad birth experiences. How do you even define a "bad" birth experience? They copied statistics,  puffed their chest, and determined that women absolutely needed them to achieve a good birth. My stomach churns a bit when I see this topic come up and I watch doulas comment on what they believe the role of a doula is. 

Earlier this month, I came across a Facebook group where a doula was asking about induction for her client. A few things stood out about the responses, but one in particular sent me straight to my computer to write this very blog.  You'll find quotes from the doula along with my responses to her statements below.

"Part of a doulas job is to navigate the dangers of what hospitals do."

I personally never knew that hospitals were an absolute danger to pregnant women, did you? Automatically, it puts a doula at odds with the very medical professionals her client has chosen for her care. It sets the standard of not trusting her to make decisions that are best for her. She is the one having a baby. She is the one that can ask questions if she'd like. She is the one that gets to decide all aspects of her prenatal care, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Why are doulas attempting to take power away from the clients they serve? Why are doulas telling their clients that hospitals are dangerous?

"I would educate yourself on how rough and dangerous inductions can be."

Yet another absolute is presented here. Are inductions all dangerous and bad for a mother and baby? Absolutely not! In this particular scenario, the client was desiring to have a medical induction  so the father of the baby could be present for the birth. As a doula we are there to support her in decisions she is making with her doctor or midwife. Inductions can be a very safe and life saving option and to devalue that is completely reckless. Also, think about the following possibility: What if you as a doula tell your client that having an induction is dangerous and will harm the baby? What if she listens to you and the following week her baby is stillborn? Who is she likely blame?  How would you justify the fact that you talked her out of an intervention that could have saved her baby?

"Besides the fact that she is artificially removing a baby 2 weeks before it's ready to be born for a non medical reason."

I go back to this being a persons choice. If she and her doctor have determined that this is safe and she has made this choice, then it is not our job to persuade her to do things the way we think they should be done. Aside from that, the terminology in this statement is meant to create fear and doubt in her chosen birth environment. 

"Obstetrics know nothing about side effects and long term emotional or neurological issues from inducing early."

That's a pretty broad statement, isn't it? I'm pretty sure that obstetrics does know a thing or two about this subject. Making sweeping statements such as this without ample evidence makes doulas look uneducated and foolish. 

"This is something that should have been covered in any doula training so if you don't understand the pitfalls, you can't properly guide her to make good decisions."

As a ProDoula doula trainer, I can assure that you will not be taught about pitfalls. You will be taught to give information to clients if they request it. You will be taught that you are not responsible for birth outcomes. You will be taught that supporting families during birth doesn't mean you twist their arm to believe like you do. You will be taught to support with non judgmental care and compassion. You will be taught to be a professional doula who will build bridges instead of demolish them. You will be taught that you do not guide/coerce/move anyone to make decisions about their health and medical wellbeing. 

ProDoula is transforming the industry and I'm proud to be part of it. We want clients, doctors, midwives, nurses, and hospitals to see that what we do is helpful instead of harmful. We seek to elevate the role of doulas to a professional level and to serve clients in a way that builds credibility.

So what do doctors, midwives, and labor and delivery nurses have to say about comments such as these? I reached out to providers in my area and will release their responses in the second part of this blog. Be on the look out!

Dear Doula, You're Not That Priceless...

It's not often that I'm left speechless by e-mail responses to inquiries for my agency, but it does happen. When you invest your whole self into being a professional, spend countless hours on education, thousands on trainings and certifications, and believe that your services have value, it's always heartbreaking when you get emails devaluing what you do. Sometimes those emails claim to believe that doulas are priceless while disparaging your business model. This week, I received an e-mail that did just that. I desired to respond rather than react and waited longer than normal to e-mail this person back. I wanted to include this correspondence as a way to encourage doulas that it's okay to believe your services have value. It's okay to not give in to people who think your pricing is high or that everyone deserves a doula. As I continue to elevate the role, I hope you are encouraged to do the same. 

*Names have been blurred and email is unedited and exactly how I received it*

My response:


I've honestly sat with this email for the past few days unknowing what to say. On one hand I could wish you well and be done, but on the other hand, I feel it's important as a doula and doula trainer to provide information that sustains doulas as they choose to work in this field. Most doulas burn out within 2 years. Their passion for serving families fizzles as they realize they have chosen a line of work that isn't sustainable. Their drive to leave birth better than they found it gets thrown away as they opt to find jobs that can keep the lights on in their homes and their children fed.

Over the last eleven years, I've watched doulas come and go. I've watched them enter this field with a light in their eyes and a yearning in their hearts to serve women and families. I've watched as they recognize that being on call 24/7 for months takes a toll on their families. I've watched as  they've missed birthday parties, holiday events, and recitals. I've watched the joy drain from my own children as they hear me say, "I've got to go to a birth!" and they know they may not see me for a few days.

After coming to the realization that I cannot change birth by my myself and that the woman giving birth has that power, I was able to step back and create sustainability for myself and my family. I would have to disagree that every mom deserves a doula. Every mom deserves to have support, but that doesn't have to come from a highly trained individual who invests hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into her education and job. Every person on the other hand does deserve to be fairly compensated for their work. They deserve to make a living doing the work they love. They deserve to be paid for being at someones call throughout pregnancy, attending a birth for an unknown amount of time, and driving back to a home to check in on the family to make sure they are doing well and don't need any additional referrals. 

XXXXX- I wish you all the best in the birth of your baby. I wish you all the happiness and wonder that bringing a new life into this world brings. Thank you for understanding the priceless nature of our profession as you mentioned in your email. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know. 



I Never Thought I'd be a Doula: A Review

Never in a million years did I think that I would be a doula. After years of schooling and receiving an associates degree and bachelors degree I was supposed to find the career of my dreams, right? Truth be told, I wasn't even interested in my major anymore after graduation and after the birth of my daughter in December of 2015 I knew I really wanted to be more involved in supporting new moms. 

The word doula was mentioned in a mom group I was in and from there I began researching. I knew of a birth doula, but I did not know that there was such a thing as a postpartum doula. With a new little girl of my own, I knew that this would fit my life perfectly as I would be able to make my own schedule and not have to be on call like a birth doula would be. 

Once finding ProDoula, I knew that this was the training organization that I wanted to certify with. I was involved in some of their online facebook groups for awhile and after seeing how they valued this profession and were dedicated to helping you succeed and make a living wage from this work, I knew I was making the right decision. It was so amazing and for once I felt like I found something I wanted to make a career out of.

I decided to become a liason and bring a training to the Metro Detroit area. Julie was assigned to be the trainer. She was here just a few months earlier for the same training so she was familiar with the area. From day one she was great, we talked on the phone about the ways that I could get the word out about the training and it was very helpful. Throughout the next few weeks we stayed in touch, but ultimately we did need meet the capacity needed to bring the training here and it was cancelled. She told me about a training in Chicago and hoped I could make that one since she knew how badly I wanted to attend.

A few weeks later I packed up my family and we traveled 5 hours to Chicago so that I could attend a postpartum training. Julie was just as nice and beautiful in person as she was over the phone. She took her time talking with all of us and getting to know us all in the group. I felt confident in my trainer and with her having a successful business of her own, I knew that she was the real deal. 

The training was amazing and things even got emotional as Julie shared some very REAL LIFE situations that we could possibly be faced with as postpartum doulas. Since the training I have reached out to Julie more than once and she has always been willing to talk and help in any way she can. If you feel like you are struggling with something you can reach out to your trainer and they can help and guide you in the right direction and that is what Julie as done for me on more than one occasion. 

I am so happy with my choice of becoming a postpartum doula and even happier that I have such an amazing trainer to help me along the way.


- Amanda is a Pre-Certified Postpartum Doula and Postpartum Placenta Specialist who lives in the Metro Detroit area. Since her training she has created her own business amandakingppdoula.com and is also an IC for an agency doulasofmi.com

A DONA Review: Why I Had to Say Goodbye

The following was posted in a Facebook group, but I felt it needed a solid place to land. After reading a response in that group from someone saying it was ridiculous to have to recover from an organization, I felt it was time for me to share my story. Twenty-one months later, I'm finally to a point I feel I can put it out on the table. Twenty-one months of hurt and yes, recovery from my time as a DONA board member. I do this because I know there are others out there who are scared. I spoke to you on the phone. I emailed with you. I messaged with you. I heard your worries and concerns. I worked hard to help DONA become what I know you wanted and needed it to be. I write this because you don't have to be scared anymore. You don't have to hurt anymore. #speakyourtruth

I feel like it's finally okay for me to share my story. I've lived in fear of retaliation and emotional harm for awhile. I'll begin this by saying that I do believe there are some good people within DONA, but for me that wasn't enough to stay. I’ve felt unheard and hurt for a long time and it’s time to speak my truth in hopes others will feel strong enough to do so themselves.

I began my journey as a doula eleven years ago. I attended my DONA training, learned how to be a doula, submitted my paperwork, and remember waiting months for the return call stating I was certified. I started my work as a free doula because that’s what I was taught to do and found that my family was suffering while I was trying to save women from bad birth experiences. I never had any interaction with the DONA home office in the beginning because I never knew what they were there for.  The president felt so distanced and I felt I was part of something, but on the outer skirts of it. I went to conferences to meet other people and connect, but it never felt genuine. Gossip abounded, back biting was even worse, yet we were told we were a sisterhood. I'd never had a sister so I figured this was just part of it. Through the years I had unanswered emails, phone calls, and questions. I'd reach out and no one was there or no one opted to be there. 

Determining that I needed to expand my services, I decided to take a postpartum workshop. During that workshop, it was suggested that I look into a board position that had frequently been open. I decided that it wasn't the right time and came home to focus on my business and family. Awhile later I began to see negativity creep up about DONA. Their lack of responsiveness, lack of connection to membership, the posting of some controversial publications, and more worried me greatly. My heart sank for the organization I had paid dues to for years and had my start in as a new doula. I felt I had to do something to help and determined I’d become a state rep. I felt that I’d be able to make a small difference in what was happening and even a small difference would improve the overall image of the organization. Once I was nearing completion of the paperwork, I was encouraged by someone close to me to apply for the Director of Public Relations position. She knew my undergrad was in that field and felt I would be perfect for the job. I went through the process and was voted in even though only a small number of people on the board bothered to even call and get to know me. I began the position not long after and was excited about the task at hand. With zero budget and a list as long as Santa’s naughty one, I was given the task to just figure out what needed done. That was a tall order for a volunteer position! I was told that there was no template to draw from and no resources to draw from either. I felt my eyes bugging out of my head, but felt that if internal changes were made, money wouldn't necessarily have to be spent to make a positive impression on the membership.

As I shuffled through that role, I also determined I wanted to take another step and become a trainer for DONA. I planned to take the training at conference and head to my first board meeting just after. I sat through the training and was baffled by how disorganized and disheveled things were. The three ring notebook wasn’t numbered, we re-watched a video that had been assigned to us prior to training, and no-one seemed to know who’s turn it was to train us. After the training was over, I was so disappointed. I was in literal shock and recognized that I didn't feel prepared in any way and that ethically I felt I couldn't train doulas with the information I had been given and taught. I wasn’t the only one in that group that felt ill prepared and disappointed and a group complaint was brought forward. For many, the resolution wasn't a resolution at all. (The “resolution” included an accidental post that went to all of the newly minted trainers. A post between the ones who trained us all making snide comments that weren’t meant for our eyes, but all of our eyes saw them. A post that devalued the opinions of those who were to become trainers. A post that as a board member made my skin crawl and my stomach churn.) The group also sent an email to the board for review to ensure they were aware as well. It was an awkward position to be in as a newly trained trainer as well as board member. (email included at the end).

My training ended and I went straight to the board meeting, bewildered about the training, but ready to share my PR findings and begin developing a plan of action.

Due to an agreement I signed, I cannot and will not disclose details of meeting/email discussions with board members out of respect and in honoring my word. What I can disclose is that what I had to say in that room didn’t matter. When presenting findings, I could sense literal rage and hear audible huffs of disgust. I entered my first board meeting full of hope and left in tears. Instead of picking me up in support I was told I really needed to gain respect before speaking out about things with such conviction. A few surrounded me and loved on me, but the damage was done. Figurative duct tape had been placed on my mouth and going with the flow became a survival mechanism. I was forever changed by that meeting. 

Entering conference that night and into the coming days was a struggle. I pasted a happy face on, wore my name tag, and greeted people. This reception was no different than others and I was immediately brought into a conversation of backbiting and deliberate bashing of a local doula. I knew nothing about Heidi Shulista, but they wanted me to know all about her. They wanted me to know how horrible she was and how she essentially tried to destroy their happy doula community. I listened, drank my glass of pinot and took in all that was being said. Instead of making me feel disgusted about Heidi, I became disgusted at their behavior. That night I called my husband in tears. That night I told him I wanted to come home early. That night left me wondering what I was doing with my life.

Throughout all of that chaos, I watched ProDoula from afar. I was terrified of Randy Patterson and her passion. I set up a business consult with her that ended up being more of a therapy session. She didn't try to work me over to her side, convince me to leave DONA, or to speak negatively of them. She spoke to me in a way I’ve been needing since I first became a doula. I left that call with renewed confidence in myself and passion for helping DONA, not ProDoula oddly enough! I continued, onward and upward. I kept believing things would just get better. I kept believing that I would gain the respect I apparently needed in order to evoke change. (What’s the definition of insanity?)

Not long after my tearful board meeting and dealing with more internal drama from the organization, I found myself in the midst of crisis. After a client committed suicide due to psychosis, and two clients lost babies, I felt that doula work wasn't my calling anymore. I was ready to throw in the towel and find an "easy" job. I was ready to quit everything I had worked so hard to achieve. Mid March I tendered my resignation to the DONA board (see resignation letter below). Nine of the sixteen responded. I never heard from the others. I entered that position full of light and passion and left as a snuffed out flame. Whatever excitement I entered with was continuously doused into a puddle of tears. I know I wasn't the only one- there were many others who came before me and left defeated as well.

I was drained and felt helpless, but Randy Patterson knew how to reach out. She knew I was hurting and she cared. She cared enough to call me from Canada and use up her international minutes. She cared enough to then Skype with me until I felt better and wasn't going to give up on being a doula. She helped me understand that there are no wasted experiences in life and that every situation leads you to where you need to be. Although my plan was to stay with DONA (you can see that from my resignation letter), that night changed me. I literally signed up for cross certification during our Skype call. Sure, I could have stayed with DONA. I could have completed the trainer requirements easily. I could have 100% fulfilled my dream of training doulas, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me. I couldn't just stuff what I knew about the organization and bring more doulas into it. I walked away timid and broken and hoped ProDoula would help bring passion for the work I loved back into my life…it did.

Not long after, I saw a meme requesting letters of intent to become a ProDoula trainer. The opportunity was right in front of me, but I froze. I was scared of failing. I was scared of not being good enough. I was scared of being told no. I looked at that meme for weeks and then would shuffle it into the depths of my mind. Weeks went by and although I wanted to submit it, my fear paralyzed my finger tips. I simply couldn’t type anything and the blank screen was defeating. I knew it was something I longed for, but my history with DONA had skewed my own vision of myself. I wasn't worthy. I wasn’t capable of being trusted. I wasn’t worth listening to.

I literally waited until the last possible second to submit the letter of intent, but I did it. UPS overnighting promised it would arrive by the deadline. The package arrived as stated and I waited. I waited for what seemed to be an eternity (it wasn’t). I waited to see if this would be my time. I waited to see if I would fulfill my dream. I waited to watch my confidence grow. I waited and longed for that phone call. 


It happened. I was invited to be part of the ProDoula Training and Development Team. 

I’m home. For so long, I was lost. I was doing what I always had done and expected the same results. Now I don't have to live in fear of my ideas being shot down. I don’t worry about my colleagues speaking behind my back. I feel completely supported in everything I seek to achieve, and I’m training doulas for the best organization in existence. I only wish the same for each and every one of you. Be free. Speak your truth!


Letter from trainers and letter of resignation below:

Letter from Trainers. I don't know what happened as I tendered resignation before it was sent.

To the board of directors of DONA International,


We, the Birth Doula Trainer Candidates from Kansas 2015, write to you, the leaders of DONA International, to follow up on our feelings about the training and our requested feedback afterward.


It has become clear to us that the entire board is not aware of the feedback we were requested to provide during the conference, so we have attached a copy of the document that was sent to the three Mentors that were involved in our training and the Director of Education on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.


As many of you are aware, the trainer training did not meet most of our expectations. At The conference following the course we were approached by the mentors to compile our feedback to help make the course better, to try to fill the gaps, and frankly to try and make amends for a sub-par training.


We, as a group, took time at the conference to compile this list and send it in a timely manner.  We received a response from the mentors on October 20, 2014 promising more info soon, and some of us, who have written individually, have received individual responses from mentors.  The message on October 20 came only after we had been mistakenly included on a private critique of our feedback from the mentors.  Although this document was received in error, many of the disparaging comments about us, the training, and the response were very concerning to read.  We have had no other communication as a group from the mentors about a plan to move forward.


We, as a group, have had NO official communication from the DONA International Education Committee or DONA International in general about our concerns; this is frustrating as well as very disappointing.

To reiterate some of the points in our letter that as yet have to be addressed, as well as some ongoing concerns:


1.) The planning of the training, and communication prior to the training, were insufficient and inconsistent.


2.) Communication between the trainer candidates and DONA has been frustrating and essentially non-existent. As well, the lack of transparency, customer service and care from DONA International: Who is accountable to whom? Who is the leader for the trainings? Who is responsible for creating, advertising, fielding messages and communicating with the trainees?


3.) We have been told that the Postpartum Trainer Candidates have been given a consistent curriculum, whereas the Birth Doula Trainer Candidates were not. We are concerned about consistency of content and quality among doula trainers, and across both birth and postpartum curricula.


4.)Many of us feel that we did not get much from the training that we could not have gotten from simply reading the manual – which, combined with the lack of communication and attention, is particularly disappointing given that we each spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars to attend.


5,) Inconsistent response when asking questions. Between private messages to individuals, pre-training info and what's in our manuals we are getting different rules and guidelines.


We understand that DONA is a volunteer organization and that everyone is also doing many other things but we feel that we have been very patient and have waited over 5 months for a response and plan to move forward.


What we would like to see happen from here is:

- clarity about what "mentoring" really means - what kind of support can we expect moving forward?

- Clarity about the trainer approval process.  Guidelines and requirements have been very confusing, as well as what happens after we submit.  How are we actually approved?

- knowing that the board/leadership are taking this seriously and following through with improving accountability, communication, training, and mentorship for the future


Thank you for taking the time to read this and we look forward to talking with you more,


The 2015 Birth Doula Trainer Candidates



My letter of resignation:


It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation from the DONA board of directors, effective immediately.  This has been a very difficult decision for me to make.  I believe in DONA and its principles, and the many wonderful people in the organization.

When I joined the DONA board, it was to help the organization move in a direction that I still believe is sorely needed.  It was my impression that DONA leadership was ready to make some changes and I was there to help make that happen.  It has become increasingly clear to me that this kind of change is not on the horizon just yet, and I would not have the authority or any budget as Public Relations Director to affect that.  As well, I think it’s difficult for a team to function without a culture of trust and respect for all members, new and established.

I care deeply about DONA, its members, and its leadership.  The organization has a great deal to offer and an amazing potential to be the voice for professional doulas worldwide.. I urge the board to consider some of the suggestions I’ve made to get us there, which I've summarized below.

Thank you for letting me serve as Public Relations Director and a member of the board for this short time.  I value the relationships that have been forged with each and every one of you.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in future for any reason.

Julie Six

1) Identify the needs and concerns of our membership and make meaningful changes. This is the #1 priority as DONA doulas are our face to the general public and other potential members.  They need to feel listened to, respected, supported, and valued.

2.) Social Media Management.  This needs someone who can dedicate 15 hours per week to create and distribute appropriate content.

3.) Reassess the current blog.  What do our members want to read and share?  What could we produce for them that is shareable, with viral capabilities?

4.) Website.  A site that is new, modern and user friendly.

5.) Re-positioning of our brand.  People need to see the changes that are being made.  One way to highlight all the good work being done to take DONA forward is to modernize our brand.

6.) Consider hiring outside help in the form of PR consulting. The most pressing PR issues facing DONA have been building for some time now and need to be resolved with a real budget and full-time assistance.

7.) Create an official PR and marketing campaign blueprint before bringing on a new PR director.  Or, allow an experienced PR person to create this blueprint as Job #1 and give her the authority to implement it.

8.) Focus on outreach to membership through personalized, respectful support.


A check in the amount of my plane ticket is in the mail to cover any expense incurred by DONA on my behalf for the upcoming board meeting.