My Story – From Doula to Designer

business

Welcome!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Harley Boyer – my maiden name is Davidson… Yes you read that right. I usually crack this joke as a way to break the ice when I first meet someone.

I’m a mom of 3, Ellery (turning 5 in February and already a moody teenager), Arwen (yes like LOTR), and sweet Freyja (7 months old and just started crawling/scooting!)

I’m also married to my best friend Neil, who also happens to be an entrepreneur as well! We started a piano studio a week before Arwen was born and he is miles ahead of me in the business game.

 

My Origin Story

It’s only appropriate for a doula podcast that my origin story is rooted in birth. My first birth was traumatic. Going through birth for the first time is already a huge unknown and can be scary. Add to that a battleaxe nurse and a deaf doctor meant I had an even worse experience.

 

My First Birth

The very short version of Ellery’s birth story is this:

  • I had an unnecessary induction at 40+4 because my mom was leaving soon and it was really important to me that she was there for the birth.
  • I have a history with sexual assault and I told that to the doctor. I asked not to be checked during the birth if I had an epidural and this was ignored and violated.
  • That battleaxe nurse told me I’d be getting an epidural with a “just you wait” attitude.
  • That same nurse and doctor had a little conversation while I was pushing and decided I needed a little help so the doctor gave me an episiotomy after only 15 minutes of pushing. He did not tell me about it, ask me for consent, or say anything to my husband.
  • The doctor also gave me the ‘husband stitch’ while stitching me up from a 2nd degree episiotomy. 

This is an extremely short version of what my birth boiled down to. I felt violated. Like I had no control over what people did to me. I felt stripped of my ability to make decisions for myself, and I felt betrayed by the medical provider I put my trust into.

This birth resulted in severe PPD that went undiagnosed for 4 months and really affected me for years.

 

I believe that the way a mother is born, through her birth and postpartum experience, is important and has lasting effects on herself and her family.

 

 

The birth that healed me

Second time around, I knew what I wanted because I had done my research and I wanted the opposite of what I went through the first time. I hired a doula early on, and it was the best experience I could have asked for.

Here’s the highlights from my second birth:

  • My doctor (different one from last time) tried to schedule an induction after my due date. I refused and said to schedule it for a later date, and planned on taking some herbs to naturally induce at home.
  • I left for the hospital when contractions were 1-2 minutes apart. Triage clocked me in at 8cm (which was a shock – my doula and I laughed we were so happy.)
  • Triage nurse attempted one IV, then gracefully admitted defeat.
  • Crisis nurse stuck me 5 times during transition. This resulted in me delivering in an awkward pushing position that resulted in 3rd degree tears. And during this time, he was still eyeing my veins while I was pushing.
  • Nurse told me not to push until the doctor came – she actually said, “I have never done a birth before, I can’t do this until the doctor gets here. I’m scared.”
  • Doctor didn’t wait for lidocaine to set in while stitching me up so there’s pictures of me pushing his hand and asking him to stop because it hurt so bad.

I had a much better experience the second time round, but still had some hang ups from giving birth in the hospital.

Giving birth unmedicated made me feel like superwoman for at least a year afterwards. I got such a high when I thought about that birth or looked at pictures from it. I couldn’t think about it at night because then I’d stay up all night looking at birth pictures!

This birth, although it still had some negatives, far outweighed my previous birth experience. I like to say that this birth healed me. I didn’t have any PPD and recovery was 10x faster and easier.

 

 

The birth experience I wanted

Fast forward to March 2021 – 7 months ago (at the time I wrote this). I knew I was going to be giving birth at home, and hired a midwife. The experience was everything I’d hoped for. This birth story is posted on my Instagram account in detail if you want to read the whole thing (click here).

Highlight reel of my third birth:

  • I gave birth at home in a birth pool
  • I was surrounded by the support of strong women and my husband, Neil
  • Music was going, jokes were being cracked (by said husband), and it was a party
  • I barely tore. My midwife described it as a skid mark. I was walking and felt pretty normal with no pain meds about 5-6 hours after birth
  • The postpartum process was so relaxed and different from giving birth in the hospital. It was everything I’d hoped for in a birth experience. I didn’t have a single complaint.

 

I know intimately the difference a doula can make.

 

I think that we should return to the old ways of birthing, with midwives as the frontline providers and OBGYN’s for the complicated cases.

After Arwen, about a year PP (for me that’s when I feel back to myself), I felt called to help others have such an empowering experience with birth. Even after a year, I was still riding the high that was an unmedicated birth and felt like superwoman. 

I literally couldn’t look at birth photos or think about it at night because I’d get an adrenaline rush.

 


 

The Calling to Doula Work

Some things I did while certifying as a doula:

  • interviewed my doula about the good and the bad part of the job
  • searched for certifications organizations
  • got burned by a few and realized a few ways that I didn’t want to doula
  • signed up with a certification organization who was legit and ran a sale for Christmas 2019

 

The big pivot

I studied super hard for 3 months and got around halfway through certification. And at that point I had a come to Jesus moment and realized that attending births was not a good fit for me health wise. And let alone trying to figure out childcare for my 2 littles at the drop of a hat (for you young mothers who are doulas, I feel you and have mad respect).

See, the thing is, birth is on-call in the middle of the night and stressful work. Lack of sleep and stress are my #1 trigger for my chronic illness.

I suffer every day from benign positional vertigo and some form of migraines. Attending births would set me back, and I was worried I would have an attack during a birth and wouldn’t be able to support my clients.

 

This realization was really hard for me, because it seems like yet another thing closed its doors on me because I was not enough.

 

Saying no to doula work was extremely difficult for me, and forced me to realize that migraines were slowly closing the world to me. I was already home bound, and this opportunity had felt like a way I could reach out of my small bubble. 

I became depressed, but not PPD. It was interesting to see the difference. I reached out to a therapist for help.

 

Therapy is 100% hands down the best thing I could have ever done for myself, for my marriage, my children, and my business. 

 

I believe everyone should be in therapy, even more so if you’re an entrepreneur. She helped me figure things out, including how to move forward with doula work.

 

 

My new calling: supporting doulas

I do consider the work I do now an extension of my doula calling. If I can help more doulas build their business and serve more mothers, then I can make a difference in that way.

I am in a unique position to help doulas. My skills in business, design, operations, and organization make me the perfect fit for helping doulas with their business.

My vision for my business is to make birth better. Eventually, when the time is right for my family and my health, I hope to become a functioning doula and eventually midwife to spread the impact of positive birth experiences.

This is a calling. If you’re a doula I know you feel this. You see the injustice, the standard that is way below what it should be, the trauma mother’s experience being treated as normal, the medicalized birth industry, the pushy doctors, the cries for help that aren’t heard by the current system…

 

YOU want to raise the bar for birth and make a difference. And I want to help you. 

 

Let’s doula this together.

 

Get to know me

As a former doula, I know you're probably feeling overwhelmed and confused and you just want your own sherpa to guide the way through your own version of Mt. Everest (aka your growing your business).

Here's where I come in. I'm that sherpa. I'm here to walk you through growing your business, building your brand, and developing your website, so you can easily attract clients and get back to the work you really enjoy: supporting mothers.

hey, i'm harley

doula turned designer

Copyright 2021 The design doula | Designed by the design doula with a  Fleurir Online template | Legal | Photos by madison thomson photography

Copyright 2021 The design doula
Legal | Photos by madison thomson photography