The goal Samantha Huggins, Domino Kirke, and Lindsey Bliss had when creating Carriage House Birth was to create a village. This village would be designed to lift and guide women through the process of becoming a mother, and would offer unwavering support for parents starting from those early months of pregnancy.
Now, five years in, that village is thriving. With branches in both NYC and LA, theirs is a community of the most experienced doulas, practitioners and educators who not only provide the sort of comfort mother’s long for, but facilitate gatherings, classes and trainings designed to help mothers (and fathers) in every aspect of their journey to parenthood.
Read on to learn more about Carriage House Birth and the mamas behind it.
How has doing this work changed you personally?
Sam: Becoming a doula for me was simply stepping into my own skin. I have, and continue to face, many truths about myself as I continue to grow into my practice. For me it’s not so much about how I have changed as to how I have evolved. I have learned to look someone in the eye and be 100% unequivocally me- which required a lot of bravery and the peeling away of my own story’s layers. It leaves me standing in my full honesty for my clients which provides an unwavering pillar for them to lean on.
Domino: Doing this work has taught me how to listen. I was raised in a family of artists and socialites, so nobody really had time for anyone. I craved that attention as a child, so to be able to learn how to give it to complete strangers has helped me heal tremendously, and has made me a more present person overall. Becoming a doula also taught me how to trust in the divine and the order of things. I was a very suspicious person growing up and in my life before I came to this work. Now, I accept what is and trust that I will learn valuable lessons with every family I serve.
Lindsey: I have learned patience. I trust the timing of life more. Everything is perfect. I have also learned that it’s not all about me. Doula work is a way to check your ego and be fully present for another person or family. The art of holding sacred space for others trickles into every facet of my life now. What a gift doula work has given me!
And how has being a parent changed you personally?
Sam: Becoming a parent for the first time cracked me wide open. I call that period of time ‘The Great Reorganization’ because the second she was out of my body, up was down, right was left, and everything I thought mattered changed. Parenthood continues to humble, surprise and challenge me.
Domino: Becoming a parent has taught me how to have self care. It has taught me to slow way down and pay attention. I never stop learning how to expand my heart.
Lindsey: Becoming a parent has taught me to embrace chaos and surrender. I set some loose boundaries, but then go along for the ride. I never planned to have children… now I have 7! It’s been a beautiful and wild ride.
When did you realize pregnant people needed a service like this?
Sam: I used doulas with both of my labors, but it was with my first that I learned about them. I had only one friend in NY that had given birth and knew only about midwives and doctors. I had really only considered what would happen to my body during pregnancy and labor. Little thought goes into what happens to the rest of you. I remember a friend who had given birth before talking about being ‘emotionally blown wide open’ and I quickly realized that there was so much more to the process than the mechanics. Soon after my first birth experience, I started meeting other people and hearing their birth stories, which at times read more like horror stories. I knew then that it made sense for everyone to have a doula. I was consumed by being a part of the change. I also believe that it’s really important to have that emotional support from a person with a degree of separation.
Domino: When I was pregnant I longed for “the village.” At 25 I had no other friends having children, so I was very lonely. Also, my family and I weren’t on speaking terms. I was told to go here, go there, but I just wanted to find it all under one roof. I had a midwives assistant acting as my doula at my son’s birth, and that wasn’t enough for me. I needed a doula, a woman who was there JUST for me, not there to assist my midwife.
Tell me more about the classes, trainings, and services Carriage House Birth offers.
In line with our philosophy on the continuity of care, we have developed a Childbirth Education Curriculum and a Foundation Birth Doula Training that is based on current evidence-based care, contemporary birth culture, and all of the Carriage House Birth ethos that make our brand stand out. (Stay tuned for our Foundation Postpartum Trainings!) We strive to empower both parents and doulas so that they may work together seamlessly with the doctors, midwives and other practitioners who handle the medical elements of their care. Along with these offerings, many of the doulas we have aligned with offer additional supportive classes from yoga and blessingways to infant feeding support, continued education about allyship and how to foster non-violent care climates.
How did you come up with the name, Carriage House Birth?
Domino found this beautiful space that was an old carriage house that we considered moving into. It felt very much like a space that would be the center of the happenings of our micro community. We didn’t end up taking the space in the end but the name and what it represented really resonated with us. The word “House” made sense to us. When you’re pregnant you’re creating a home. You want to be surrounded with the familiar. We wanted the name to represent what we were offering as a feeling.
In what ways do laboring people inspire you?
We are inspired by the strength we see in our clients. Their bravery. Their willingness to try even if they might fail, and then come back for more. When we look into a laboring person’s eyes and we know that they are standing at the door of their own truth. Well, we just cant think of anything more honest or profound.
What have you learned in your friendships, both personally and professionally, with other women?
Sam: I feel so held by all of the women in my life. It’s a true blessing. I learn every day from them. I think one of the most valuable things that I have learned by my circle of women, is how to really show up for people. My women will be there to catch me as I am there to catch them. They are a part of the river that runs below all of the noise of my day-to-day. If I am ever feeling weak, I can dip down into that energy pool and find strength and understanding to get me though.
Domino: I’ve learned that I need my friendships. I need my system in place. The women I’ve met through this work hold me up in ways I never thought I could handle, or even needed! I was always very independent and self-sufficient. I moved a lot growing up, so I never got close to anyone. Now I know the women I work with are there for me. I lean into that and let myself feel the vulnerability.
Lindsey: I’m beyond blessed with the friendships and the partnerships that I’ve forged with my circle of doula wives/sisters. I’ve learned that we can hold one another up… and also move mountains.
What have been some of the most memorable events that have happened thus far in the Carriage House Birth journey?
Oh wow! So many. The most moving has been people’s response to us offering this service. It has been such a labor of love and to look at our email any day of the week and see the inquiries and the support just rolling in feels amazing.
What does the future hold for Carriage House Birth?
Our goal is to create a world wide village through more Webinars, doulas and physical locations. We’re about to leap into writing our first book this spring, and we’ll be opening a third office in Austin, Texas with more cities to come in 2018.
*Photo by Greg Morris.