• angelahodgedoula

Looking backward, looking forward


Turn and face the strange


Ooh, look out, you rock 'n' rollers


Turn and face the strange


Pretty soon now you're gonna get older

Time may change me

But I can't trace time

I said that time may change me

But I can't trace time

-David Bowie, Changes

2020 was a year unlike any other. I went through all the emotions, just as many pregnant and birthing people did. Fear, confusion, grief, gratitude. In a year, our worlds have turned upside down. One moment, parents were happily attending prenatal appointments together, planning baby showers; the next moment, non-pregnant partners were no longer allowed to come to appointments, birthing people told they may have to birth alone, without their partners or doulas, pushing in masks, frightened and uncertain of what was in store for them and their babies. I volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma with their doula program, and it was swiftly put on hold. Doula inquiries slowed. Time itself seemed to slow. Slowly, restrictions lifted, or changed. The doula program at St. Joseph is still on hold until further notice, but most hospitals are allowing two support people at births. Baby showers have gone virtual. Lactation lounges have gone virtual. We understand more about this virus now and we have hope as new vaccines are approved in record time. Doulas themselves have begun to get vaccinated.

2020 was also a year of growth for me, professionally. I completed my childbirth education certification early in the year and was ready to teach solo for the Parent Trust/Great Starts organization! But, classes were no longer held in person. Everything moved online, with amazing speed. I had to rethink how I was going to teach, and honestly, at first I was terrified! But I stepped into that icy water and discovered I could do it, and there are even some perks. I don’t have to commute to a classroom, I only have to step from my living room into my home office. I get to see my students’ pets. Sometimes my pets get to see my students. Most importantly, I get to connect with students I otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet, share evidence-based information, listen to their fears, and reassure them as they walk into parenthood in these treacherous times. I have found the work incredibly fulfilling.

In the fall, I did something I have wanted to do for a long time. I signed up for a birth photography course through Birth Becomes You. It was a six week online course where I learned from the very best photographers in the field. I didn’t only learn photography skills, but about how photography in the birth space is unique and important. I reached into the “why” of my work and reflected on what I love about birth work, babies, and photography. One of my reflections included the following: Doula work satisfies the part of me that wants to nurture, bear witness, comfort, and support. Birth education satisfies the extroverted part of me that is driven by information and fascinated by biology. And then there is an artistic side of me that birth photography calls to. I am a naturally creative person who needs an outlet for that expression.

I am excited to have expanded my birth work to encompass education and photography. I am excited also to expand my understanding of birth justice as I continue. In a year that has exposed the deep cracks in our society, I feel even more dedicated to standing up for the vulnerable in my community. I turn to face 2021 with hope and a renewed commitment to the parents and babies I am serving. I face 2021 with more knowledge, not only of birth work, but of myself and what I strive for as a doula/educator/photographer.

Someone recently asked me if I “like” being a doula. How could I respond? What I feel for this work is so much more than “like.” To witness new humans arrive in this world and meet their families is profound. It is soul work. It is deep. It is an honor. I love my work, and that is one thing I doubt will change in these fast-changing times.

Collaborative art with my three year old daughter, Violet

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© 2019 by Angela Hodge.

Angela Hodge Birth Services

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