It’s been two weeks now since the Astros made history by winning the world series. I finally just removed the orange nail polish from my toes. But, I can’t get enough. I have been shopping for just the right WS champion gear for everyone in my family. I now follow many of the players on Instagram. And I smile and nod at anyone that I pass wearing an Astros shirt. This historic win did so much more for me than awaken my inner baseball fan.
As many know, I am a Nebraska native. I lived there my entire life. I had deep and wide roots there. Then my family uprooted and transplanted to Houston a little less than 2 years ago in early 2016. When we first visited Houston so that my husband could interview with the company he now works for, a few days before Christmas in 2015, I described it as enchanting. The warm sunny weather in December, the palm trees, the green grass everywhere, being a short hour drive from the ocean…it was all so enchanting. I was hesitant of leaving home though, of course. I knew it would be hard. But, we approached it as an adventure. We were getting out of Nebraska and away from the harsh winters and experiencing a different part of the country, a different culture! So we sold nearly everything we owned and made the long drive down here. Once we finally got settled into our house (that’s a long story for another time!) and life took on a sense of normalcy, I became disenchanted. Houston became an unfamiliar and endless concrete jungle full of aggressive drivers. Houston became a lonely and empty void where nothing was familiar, friendly, or comforting. Our culture values independence and privacy. It felt as though there was a wall around everyone that was now geographically close to us. It’s hard to break through the walls and make new friends. I was homesick. As the time passed, it slowly eased. We found a church we like, we got involved in a homeschool co-op. I began to be able to find my way to the store without employing GPS. But, it was still hard. We were struggling to make meaningful connections, establishing myself as a doula in a new community and new market was proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated, my husband’s job had more challenges than we had expected. When we reached the mark of being here for 18 months, Houston still felt empty. I was still often overcome with homesickness. One morning, as hurricane Harvey was churning up the gulf and my husband and I were on our morning walk, we discussed the fact that we were not yet as emotionally involved in Houston as we were in Omaha and we had wondered when and how that would change.
Then hurricane Harvey churned over Houston for days bringing with it the most devastating and destructive flooding this city has ever seen. We ended up spending 10 days serving in our church-turned-shelter. We took donations from friends and family in Nebraska and spent hours shopping to provide the needs for the guests in our shelter. My whole family spent many hours a day there. My husband and I split several overnight shifts. Watching the people of Houston come together to serve each other overwhelmed me. Everyone took down their walls. There was such a strong sense of community and support across all generations, races, and creeds…we were all people helping and needing help. Through that service in the shelter, we also strengthened friendships and made new connections and developed a stronger sense of community and belonging with our church.
Then two months later the Houston Astros, the underdogs of Major League Baseball, did the unimaginable by earning a position in the World Series. We went to games 4 and 5 (yes, I survived game 5!) and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. And then. And then they won it all. Houston became champions. My family went to the championship parade downtown. We weren’t able to be close enough to have a good view of the team, but it didn’t much matter to me. I just wanted to be with fellow Houstonians. Everyone’s walls remained down as the city that came together in servanthood and support through devastation was now coming together in celebration and victory. It was beautiful, honestly.
Through all of that, Houston has captured my heart. I am no longer homesick, for now I am home.
I’ve decided to ditch the hospital.
I know this decision may hurt the number clients I serve. I also know this decision may not sit well with some of the doula community. I’m OK with that. I have decided to no longer attend hospital births unless there are risk factors present that make a hospital birth necessary.
I hold a firm belief that women need to have information, space, and freedom to make their own decisions about their maternity care, birth attendants, and birth place. I want every woman to be surrounded by people she trusts and in an environment that makes her feel safe and comfortable. If that environment is a hospital, I’m just not the right doula for you. I know several that may be, though so please ask me for referrals if this is you.
I also hold a deep belief that our bodies were designed for giving birth. The creator of the universe built into us this amazing ability to bring forth new life. And Every part of the process has a purpose. I believe that the more we intervene with and disrupt this process, the more likely we are to cause harm. This is sacred, holy, and incredibly important work, this work of growing and birthing babies. I feel that staying out of the hospital allows new families the best start possible. And that’s where I want to be; supporting new families with the best start possible, honoring The Lord’s creation and the sacredness of it all by not intervening with and disrupting His design.
So, I am ditching the hospital.
Amber Piller - Professional Birth Doula and owner of Agape Birth Services. Serving Northwest Houston including Jersey Village, Cypress, Tomball, Spring, and Katy Texas.