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Becoming: My Divinely Empowered Path to Doula Work

Stacey Spencer-Willoughby | March 29, 2021

Almost everything about my life is different from what it was in March 2020. I believe that this is because I was divinely led to becoming who I am in this moment. There were skills that I would need for the rest of my life, waiting on the other side of my comfort zone. I looked back at my Google Calendar for 2020, just to reminisce on how busy my life was last year, pre-pandemic. I was shocked. One particular week, I attended more events and had more commitments in one week, than in the last 11 months. I am not even sure how I managed to do everything I used to do “back in the day”.

I recall a recurring topic that came up in conversation during brief breaks at the office, chatting with my sista friends – the idea that I should become a doula one day. I was never opposed to the idea, based on my wonderful birth experiences and the support I received from my own doula. I have always promoted the benefits of having a doula to women who were pregnant or planning to become a mother in the future. Birthing people need someone supporting them through the whole journey and the outcomes for a more natural, healthy, empowered birth are possible, especially with a doula’s support. 

At the start of the NYC lockdown, I was a couple of weeks away from my last day in a job that I disliked at an institution that I loved. Yes, sounds confusing, but it happens to lots of people. It took me a long time to make the decision to move on and it was not easy, but I was divinely inspired to change my life for the better, even in the midst of chaos and fear of the unknown.

So many amazing things happened as I began a period of telling myself, “Just say yes, what do you have to lose?” I was able to continue working remotely for the first month and a half of the quarantine, before leaving my position in the arts and jumping head-first into a 90-day life-changing challenge. At the invitation of one of my close sista girls, I joined an amazing, magical collective of talented and wise womxn on a 90-day journey that helped me plan for life during and after a pandemic, and beyond. I emerged, well-organized, armed with a will, an emergency go-bag, herbal and ancestral knowledge, new plant babies, a commitment to writing, as well as a website, a newly branded IG, and a powerful network of sisterly love and support. Among my new collective were several doulas.

When I was pregnant, I remember how much more confident I was having my own doula on my side, how well-informed I was, and how comforting it was to have someone to ask those little questions that came up between prenatal check-ups. I would imagine being that type of support for other women and birthing people, but later, when I retire from working in the arts and my kids are out of college. One of my youngest sista friends from work had other plans for me. She had recently married and let me know that I had better get it together because she was planning to start a family sooner than later, and if I was not ready, she would be hiring someone else to be her doula. Whoa. No pressure! I assured her that I would be there for her no matter what, and hopefully, I would have time to get ready.

Months later, actually just six months, COVID-19 had paused life as we knew it, I had left my job, my young adult (babies) were both in virtual college, and my young sis was indeed expecting… twins. I was enrolled in my first virtual doula training with Mama Glow. In fact, I enrolled in the Doula Homeschool Level 1 training for September 2020 and then days later, found out that she was expecting. The timing was divine. The months since have been life-changing, challenging, emotionally charged, sleepless, scary, beautiful, eye-opening, liberating, empowering, and have pushed me far past any limits I had placed on my capacity to learn and to serve others. I have now completed both levels of training and am working towards certification as a doula trainee. Also, I am now “doula auntie” to twin baby girls who are healthy, beautiful, and thriving!

Looking back on the last year, I feel divinely empowered to help others around me to adjust to these challenging times, and inspired by a continued faith in what is possible. As a doula, I know that Black women are still experiencing injustice in pregnancy and childbirth, and are 3 – 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. This motivates me to learn everything I can, so that I may support a number of BIPOC families as their doula. While my services are focused mostly on the postpartum period and helping families through their successful transition into parenting and family routines, I am also planning on becoming an advocate for NYC birth centers which will provide positive birth experiences for all people. I am lovingly supported by my doula community in the same way that I support my loved ones and clients. This year and this path have led me through the most difficult time of my life, but simultaneously, the most incredible and divine time of my life.

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