Updated: Dec 2, 2018
I was 19. Living on my own, pregnant, and powerless. I went into labor not knowing my rights, my options, or even my own wishes. I accepted and agreed to whatever interventions, tests, and procedures the medical providers put in front of me. The words Doula or birthing plan never even entered my world, let alone delayed cord clamping, skin to skin, minimizing interventions, comfort measures, position alternatives, freedom of movement, rebozo usage, etc. etc.
I was 19. Vividly the images resurface. He rolled me away in a wheel chair. I arrived in a cold room; visually and physically. I tried to cover up with those cream hospital blankets the best I could, I was freezing. Everything in the room was varied shades of gray, no wall art, no color. I was alone with a stranger, trusting that he would place an epidural into my spine without causing harm. As I was told to curl my spine and be still, I wept as quietly and calmly as I could. He never knew. I was confused as to how I ended up here, and why my Mother could not join me. I was so scared.
I was 29. Repeat...minus the epidural.
I was 31. Repeat...minus the epidural.
My purpose and passion for shifting the birth stories of other laboring individuals runs deep. The 19 year old me, doesn't want anyone to feel like I did. Alone. Uniformed. Confused.
You may feel anxious, worried, and uncertain, but alone you will not be.
Fast forward to now.....
I am a Mother of three Loves, who have molded me in ways they will ever know. Two of my Loves have special needs, and one is a full fledged adult. Wow! It is unbelievable how your life can be full of unexpected twists and turns, yet be aligned so perfectly at the same time. I am thankful.
I am a Registered Nurse professionally. Over 10 years ago, I knew I wanted to be a Labor and Delivery (L&D) Nurse. I was already a Certified Breastfeeding Educator at the time, and no one could tell me that my dream of helping miracles come into the world wouldn't come to fruition. I was so ready, eager, and excited. And then life happened.....
Our labor and delivery clinical instructor fell ill, and was unable to return. My clinical group was unable to have our hands on L&D experience, which was utterly devastating to me. My entire vision and purpose for going to nursing school was wrapped in a pretty, perfect bow called Labor and Delivery Nurse Vanessa. I had dreamed about being there for births, I envisioned holding the hands of laboring individuals, I had waited patiently for my L&D rotation to come, and I was ecstatic when it was finally my turn! I had even met with recruiters at our level 1 trauma hospital. I wanted to inquire about whether they accepted new graduates on their labor and delivery units or not. Joy overwhelmed me when they replied, "Yes, and see you soon!"
When you think you are not fully equipped to be present in that capacity, because you didn't have your hands on experience in school, your dreams quickly fade. I never applied to be a L&D Nurse. My eyes sweat every time I think about it...
Despite it all, I went on to work at that level 1 trauma hospital as new graduate, just on a different unit. I have since worked in almost every discipline of nursing. Nursing has been good to me, and I have learned so much about health, humility, and holding space for others in their most intimate and trying times. I am beyond thankful.
Finding out about the amazing birth work that Doulas provide, was like a smooth cup of hot cocoa on one of our Winter wonderland days (I'm a Wisconsinite.) So comforting and warm. I knew I needed to learn more, and reignite my passion for helping miracles come into the world. The rest is history....
I AM THANKFUL.
I AM HERE.
With Love and Joy,
Vanessa D. Johnson RN