Name: Carole Pickard
I have been a birth and postpartum doula for years before it had a name! I began almost 37 years ago in 1982 by assisting friends, family, and La Leche League moms with the birth support and postpartum care for mothers and newborn infants. My family moved here this past October from the WNC mountains of Brevard to be closer to family. We have six children, ages 13 to 38, and six grandchildren, ages six and under. I'm homeschooling our youngest.
When I had my first baby in 1980, I had not been around many babies before, and quite frankly, really didn't know what I was doing. He arrived nine days after I turned 20 years old and eight days past his due date. Going into the hospital, I knew I wanted as little intervention as possible, but I had no idea how to ask for it. In those days, enemas, shaving, and episiotomies were considered the norm, and not even Lamaze prepared me for an excruciatingly painful back labor. They whisked my nine-pound newborn son away so quickly that I barely had time to glance at him, let alone bond with those first precious minutes of skin-to-skin contact!
Fortunately, breastfeeding wasn't too big of an obstacle for me, as I discovered La Leche League and started attending meetings when my baby was very young. Once I became a La Leche Leader in 1982 and baby number two was on the way, I knew I wanted a natural childbirth this time. The Carolina Birthing Center, a free-standing, out-of-hospital, birthing center in High Point, NC was just getting ready to open. I made an appointment to meet with the midwife, Elizabeth (Libby) Dickson, CNM, and was so excited about having our baby there! She was the epitome of what I think a midwife or doula should be: a good listener, cheerleader, caregiver, supporter, teacher, trustworthy, and friend. This time I chose the Bradley method of childbirth, and right away new it was a good fit for me. Our daughter, arriving in 1983 at 9 lbs. 3 oz. was one of the first births at the birthing center.
Although there were minimal interventions with this birth, I still had the midwife strip my membranes due to slow labor progression (7 cm for HOURS), and did require an episiotomy. Home six hours later, we were now a family of four. When our older two children were 7 and almost 5, my husband at the time and I decided to have a third child. Funny how people think that since "you have one of each, why would you want another?" On May 25, 1988, we welcomed another son into our growing family. Arriving a 9 lbs. 6 oz., his arrival was my perfect birth experience. I recently had his birth transferred from VHS to DVD, and now use the video of his birth to teach a childbirth class for my clients as well as for siblings at birth. His birth was everything I had hoped for, even after having two car accidents (neither one my fault) during my pregnancy with him!
The years passed, and they truly do so in the blink of an eye. The father of my first three children and I divorced in 1993, and I went from being a full time homemaker to a single working mother of three children, ages 4, 9, and 12. Eventually, I met my current husband on a dating website in 2001. We married a year later, and after suffering a miscarriage in 2004, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in 2005, just shy of turning 45 years old! Having 18 years between my youngest and this newborn was quite a spread, and one of the reasons I call myself the "seasoned" doula. I didn't think of myself as an "old" mom when she arrived; I just considered myself "seasoned" by years of experience.
Our baby was an unplanned cesarean section due to her size at 10 lbs. 6 oz., and there was concern regarding the circumference of her abdomen and possibility of a shoulder dystocia. I also did not do my due diligence and check to see what the cesarean section rate for this hospital was, which I later discovered that it was extremely high at 68%. In my defense, I thought that the natural childbirth phenomenon from the 1980's had continued. Furthermore, my husband had started a new job in South Carolina, and we had only lived in the area for a mere six weeks before her arrival. As one can imagine, I was incredibly upset at the outcome of this birth as I had already experienced the ideal, and this was far from it. However, in retrospect this birth has provided me with invaluable recovery and breastfeeding experience in helping another mother through a cesarean section.
Now, here I am so many years later. My oldest daughter, now 35, is the mother of two of my grandchildren and a La Leche League Leader in the Raleigh area. A couple of years ago she asked me, "Mom, have you ever considered becoming a doula? You'd be great, especially for postpartum moms." At 58, I'm a mother and grandmother, wiser with rich experience, and "seasoned" to share my philosophy of "mothering the mother," so that new mothers I work with may be the mother her family needs. I look forward to meeting you!
Knitting, Camping, Theater, Canning, Martial Arts, Reading, Volunteer at the Historic Latta Plantation.
Training: Doula certification completed through Doula-to-Be, Certified La Leche League Leader, B.S. Community and Justice Studies with a focus on Family Violence and Civil Rights.
(Please contact me directly regarding reduced rates for special circumstances: single mothers, teen mothers, and women giving their babies up for adoption.)