New Director of Tulsa Family Doulas
By Sarah Coffin
You know those events or conversations that become a defining moment and you can look back on them and pinpoint the exact instant a decision was made, your life changed and you absolutely KNEW what you needed to do next? I've had a couple of those and I want to tell you some sweet stories about them.
When I had Chapman, my 3rd child, 9 years ago, I experienced one of those defining moments. I hadn't had the best experiences with my first two births and knew I needed to do something different the third time around. I'm going to really age myself here: that was right around the time "mommy blogs" started to really become something significant and women had an accessible platform to write and read birth stories.
I read some great stories about how childbirth could be so different than what I had experienced previously and determined to take more ownership of what would be my final childbirth experience. I heard about a nurse, a friend of a friend, who had been on duty when she had her baby and she had nothing but positive things to say about her. I connected with Karen, the coveted nurse, prior to my delivery date. I let her know what my goals were for birth and felt immediately like I had someone that knew how to help me achieve them, and I did.
She was my nurse the day I had Chapman. I still can hear her kind, encouraging voice in my head telling me I could do this, helping me change positions when I didn't want to, increasing my confidence in myself and my body with each passing contraction. I remember feeling Chapman's head turn and descend into the birth canal during a contraction as I was, at her suggestion, standing and swaying beside the bed. I knew in that instant I had done it - he would be here soon. I had actually felt the feeling of empowerment and a strong sense of personal accomplishment I missed out on before.
What is a doula, anyway?
I thought a lot about the influence Karen had on my experience with Chapman. I felt strongly that every woman should have someone standing beside them, giving a calm, kind voice of encouragement while providing knowledge and insight on the process of birth itself. I didn't even know what a doula was prior to reading Part One, Part Two and Part Three from one of the mommy bloggers (the Dooce) I had followed for a little over a year before Chapman was born. Just searching for her birth story to link for you brought me to tears. I couldn't bring myself to read the whole multi-part story because I have to function the rest of the day, thank you very much.
Part One of her birth story was written almost exactly a month after Chapman was born and I was still on the highest of highs. I'm not kidding, if they could bottle the feeling I had after birthing him and provide it on the open market, we would not have a drug problem, my friends.
In her blog, I learned what a doula was. I became insatiable. I plunged myself, heart and soul, deep into birth work. I craved information and education and did everything I could to learn and do more. THIS was what I was put on the earth for. THIS was what I supposed to do when I grew up. If there was a certification, I committed and completed it. If there was a training, I was present and the most attentive trainee. I was hungry for the knowledge and the wisdom that could come from the burgeoning doula courses and would move heaven and earth to be the best support person I could for every client I served.
Not every story from every client ended happily. In fact, I found that I had been witness to some remarkable experiences which even seasoned doulas, at the time, had not observed. Birth work is never always easy, but it is always so very important, and I loved every second of it.
My goal with this new passion was to build a thriving business based on the strong foundation of my past experiences in the corporate and non-profit world. If I was going to leave my family to provide this incredibly important support, I needed for it to provide a sustainable income. I also felt that I could influence the world of birth work in general with a boost in confidence by helping doulas achieve social validation in the mainstream world in which I lived - the shiny part of the buckle of the Bible belt. I knew a high level of professionalism and personal accessibility would be the tipping point for success. And it was.
Growing my doula business was the most difficult thing I have ever done. And by far, one of the most rewarding. I learned my faults, was told my faults by lots of people very willing to share, cried in quiet rooms, made hard decisions, took strong stands no one else around me thought wise, made mistakes, fell down, sat there for a minute, but then got up every damn time, brushed it all off, recovered from gut-wrenching abandonment from peers and leaders, and made this work with clients I love, respect and admire more than I will ever be able to express, a success.
I grew my own community with Tulsa Family Doulas, and provided a sustainable income of demanding, necessary heart-work for at least 6 women and their families at any one time. This agency has served hundreds of families with thousands of hours of support. I have lived and breathed the mission of Tulsa Family Doulas - to increase confidence in birth and parenting for every family we serve - and it has resonated powerfully with our doulas and our clients.
Another Defining Moment
Three years ago, Jason and I and our kids moved from our home of 13 years to what we knew would be the location of our forever home on family land. After years of searching for property and yearning to be firmly planted in the middle of nowhere, but still close enough to our kid's private school and to be honest, Whole Foods, some land adjacent to my parents became available. After lots of deep breaths and long talks, we took the plunge and sold our home.
Living out here and experiencing the serenity of this property, and feeling the joy and peace my family is able to find in just BEING in nature and away from constant chaos is immeasurable. I knew there had to be some way to share what we have with others.
You know those feelings of unrest where your mind tells you there is something on the horizon? The giddy nervousness of finding space to wonder what's next and knowing there is something more you are supposed to do? I got that last winter.
In late April/early May of 2017, I went to a networking group for women in business and met several fascinating people. I was chatting with a wedding planner about the property, the views - you guys, Tulsa county has VIEWS! - and that she should bring her clients out for pictures. She then says something to the affect of if it is as good as I say it is, then I should open a wedding venue.
Inaudibly, I said, "Okay." And then we did.
Within a couple of days of discussing it with my parents (remember, family land surrounding us), my dad hopped on his bulldozer and cleared the trees, and we started making plans. Not the kind of plans you think about for a few years, stew on and then maybe pull the trigger. We made PLANS. Plans designed by my husband and myself with my parents, created in a program Jason uses for work. These plans were dreamt up by our mutual love for architecture and details and beauty with the intention of providing a space of effortless luxury grounded in the peace of nature.
By June 2017, we had 5 weddings booked. In August, we had our building permit. In September, the concrete was poured. In November 2017, we had our first wedding. As of writing this in May 2018, we have 27 events booked through 2019. We haven't even made it to the 1 year anniversary of me buying the website domain. Dream Point Ranch is affirmation of God's goodness and everything we knew it could be.
Each step of this new venture has been God-ordained. He has cleared grand obstacles, mightily strengthened my faith and my peace (no small feat), nodded yes to us this whole last year, affirmed every decision, blessed our choice to not live in fear, but to boldly step out in faith.
This building, this land, the beautiful and precious memories that have been and will be made under this sky and our phenomenal new clients make this new path so remarkably peaceful. Everything I did in life up until this point brought me to this new work.
But there is only one ME
I knew I needed a break from being on call. Even by establishing a shared call schedule within doula teams, as the owner of Tulsa Family Doulas, I was never not on call for anything and everything the agency's clients or the doulas needed.
I decided to take my last personal client in December of 2017. As God would have it, one of my first personal doula clients ever, was also my last. I was with her through all three of her births and felt such serenity in God caring enough about my emotions to provide both me and her family that special experience.
It took me a solid month to not feel like I had to have my phone always on, always charged and always within reach. I would even put it on silent at night and smile knowing I didn't have to worry about missing a middle of the night text. I will never be able to tell you what type of feeling that relief is unless you have lived it for 9 years.
The plan was to oversee the wedding venue and manage the agency without personally taking clients anymore. However, as my dad would say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I just can't do everything."
My daughter turned 13 in March of this year and with that came the sobering realization that I have but 5 more years with her in my home. I willingly and sometimes, not so willingly, wasn't present for portions of their childhoods by doing the work I loved. Granted, I scheduled consults when they would be in bed or close to it and would try to balance out the stay at home mom/working mom life balance, but, for me, it was so much easier to do this work when they were younger. I knew when they were little they missed me when I was working. But Jason was, and still is, the super fun, shiny glitter parent in our marriage and I'm the sticky glue, so I didn't worry about them too much.
But now, I became the one that was missing too much of them. I needed to honor the knowledge that I can't be everything to everyone. So, I chatted with Jason, made a couple phone calls and offered to sell the agency to a phenomenal woman that has been with Tulsa Family Doulas since the beginning, Kirsty Ray. May I now introduce you to the Director of Tulsa Family Doulas.
Kirsty has plans for the agency that far exceed my lofty goals when I started this business, and I love every single one of them. She will take this strong company built on compassion, professionalism and confidence and it will soar even further and reach even more clients. The established base within Tulsa Family Doulas that has been accomplished through the hard work of our phenomenal birth and postpartum doulas, lactation consultants and the best clients in the world will only become stronger under her leadership.
Your Life Goals Matter
I will forever be reminded to make huge goals, write them down and put a date on them. I still, to this day, remember writing down the enormous financial goals for the agency to prove to myself it could be done. Tulsa Family Doulas met that goal last year. I probably should have written down a bigger goal, or perhaps the completion of that goal was what provided the peace to say goodbye to this business and make new ones with another.
With much love,