How My Journey to Parenthood Led Me to Be a Doula
By Marise Angibeau-Gray, mother of 5 (including three angel babies), full-spectrum doula, fertility wellness advocate
How I became a doula: from loss to self-discovery
My journey to becoming a doula was 7 years in the making, but the catalyst for finally becoming a doula was giving birth to my beautiful daughter, Memphys. Some years back, I became pregnant for the first time. It was a surprise, but it also filled me with the greatest sense of joy. I started planning a wonderful, medication-free birth and thinking of names for the little life in my womb. At 11 weeks of pregnancy, all of my plans, hopes, and dreams came to a devastating end when I had a spontaneous miscarriage. The pain and shock from losing a baby felt impossible for my mind to process. My road to parenthood continued to be riddled with darkness in the years after. I went on to have two more losses much later in pregnancy: a preterm rupture of membranes at 19 weeks pregnant and a fetal demise at 29 weeks pregnant. My partner and I went through periods of numbness and feeling isolated in our grief; not knowing how to support each other.
Birth work is life work
I tried to find ways to cope by reading stories of others who had lost children and searching for help that exists for families like ours. I came across the work of doulas and midwives and how they support communities through the full spectrum of reproduction. My interest in birthwork, fertility, and body literacy grew from intrigue to passion. After having an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth with Memphys, I finally had the opportunity to parent a healthy living child. The joy that I felt cleared the path for me to start supporting other families at every stage of their journey to parenthood.
The rewards of being a doula
I often reflect on my experience of becoming a mother and how it is riddled with grief and trauma, as well as love and beauty. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned along the way and that I can use that wisdom to heal and advocate for others as a birthworker. My heart aches for the children that I’ve lost, but I also feel blessed to have had them for those brief, intimate moments. So many families suffer in silence after they lose a child. Doulas are especially needed as a resource to hold space and advocate for people that don’t have a neatly packaged story to parenthood. We are fully present for the hard conversations and tough emotions. I’m hoping to continue being a resource to normalize all the complexities of birth and parenting alike. Going from being a parent to becoming a doula was a natural path for me and for many others doing this amazing rewarding work.
Marise Angibeau-Gray is a parent of two daughters and a Certified Full Spectrum Doula. Marise comes from a career in art and design but felt a calling to birth work after experiencing three losses at different stages in pregnancy and the birth of her rainbow baby, Memphys.