My doula journey began a few years back while working for the local public school system. During a monthly meeting with Carla London, our Chief Equity Officer, we watched a news clip that discussed the maternal mortality rates amongst black women. I was astonished that this was happening, but not being talked about or dealt with enough to stop it.
Me being me, I immediately began to brainstorm ways that I could help. During my research, I discovered birth workers and how impactful their work is. I was a single mother of two at the time, and wanted to pursue training, but it wasn’t something that I could fit into my budget. I didn’t let that stop me. After further research, I saw that there were scholarships available to train women as doulas, with many organizations across the country agreeing to train women of color for free in an effort to lower the maternal mortality rates amongst black women.
I reached out to Erica Kroll, of Nona Birth Education & Counseling, after seeing that she was a trainer of doulas and asked if she had heard of these efforts. She had not but was eager to offer of herself. I began her postpartum doula training shortly after finding out that I was pregnant with my third child. This training offered a wealth of information where I was able to unlearn a lot of the things that I had been taught, and socialized to believe, about childbirth. I was eager to return for the labor portion of the doula training, but being a new mother again (with an 11-year gap between her and my last), along with all of life’s other responsibilities got the best of me… And, then COVID hit!!! I convinced myself that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
Well, if you are reading this, I am here to tell you that if it is meant, it is ALWAYS going to come back around!!! And, when you are talking about the survival of women, birth experiences that are not full of trauma, and the necessary effort to make that happen… here it came!!! And, this time it came in the form of another great woman, Hakima Payne of Uzazi Village. On November 28, 2020, I received a message that would ultimately lead us here. It read, “Hi Erica. I would like to speak with you about bringing a doula training to Columbia MO. Are you available to talk next week?” Needless to say, I said “Yes!”, and as they say “The rest is history!” She agreed to come and train a group of women that I selected. Another phenomenal woman, and local OB/GYN, Courtney Barnes, offered to lead fundraising efforts so that the selected women could go through training at no expense to them.
We completed training in July of 2021, and immediately began working on forming a collective to serve our community, with an emphasis on those that are impacted the most. I, along with the other doulas, look forward to working, educating and supporting our community, birthing mothers, and their support systems for many years to come!!!