As I’ve mentioned before, I am blessed to know some amazing women- one of whom is Lisa Gendron. I first heard about Lisa being a doula from a friend, and then at a Doulas of Rhode Island (DoRI) event. I fell in love with her almost ethereal demeanor. We met, her pregnant belly and mine, talking across my dining room table, and though we decided (mutually) that it would be a bad idea to work together- we were due with our baby girls at the same time(!), we remained in touch.
With (now) three beautiful children, and our girls being SO close in age, I’ve found myself looking to Lisa for inspiration and advice- not just because she’s a wonder about all things birth, but because she is the kind of mother I aspire to be. Lisa approaches life with an artistic and loving eye, but is also level-headed, educated and passionate about her convictions. One of which is birth. Yes, she’s passionate about birth… all things birth!
I am fortunate enough to get to play with newborn babies and assist Lisa with her beautiful photography (she even makes me look pretty good!), but more than that, I loved asking her a few questions about her doula services and what being a doula means to her.
What does “doula” mean to you?
At the heart of being a Doula is a deep reverence for birthing, women and people, partners, babies and birth. To be a Doula means to be willing to suspend any prejudice, preconceived notions about how things should be and what choices people should make. My practice is rooted in the deep understanding that each person has a unique path that they will find. I cultivate the willingness to sit with each birthing person with compassion and respect for their individuality, choices, and needs. This support holds space for families to find their own meaning in the process.
What’s your specialty and why did you enter that niche?
I wouldn’t say I have a specialty per se, but I have a deep investment in the homebirth community in Rhode Island. After giving birth at home two times myself, working with the Rhode Island Birth Network supporting birth choices in Rhode Island, and co-founding the Rhode Island Homebirth Collective, I can say that helping families find the birth environment that feels best for them is a deeply important part of my practice.
How many births have you attended?
I can definitely say that I’ve attended dozens of births, but I actually decided to stop counting. I recognized that fixating on the number of births I had attended started to feel like I was putting notches on my bedpost. To me this did not feel aligned with my mission as a doula. The more births I attend, the more I feel humbled knowing that there is always something to learn.
Favorite/most anticipated moment about birth… besides the baby!
My favorite moment and birth isn’t actually the emergence of the baby at all. Of course that is an amazing moment for families and a completely unparalleled personal moment of joy and glory, but my favorite moment is actually the process that happens when the birthing woman or person has hit the wall, and they don’t think they can go any further, and they do- They do. It’s not a moment but more shift inside the woman or birthing person. It’s a transformation of will and consciousness. It’s something more profound than I can describe fully, I am in awe of it every time. It’s love.
Hardest part of your work?
The hardest part of my work is probably watching people suffer. Often there is suffering in birth, even in a beautiful empowered birth with providers that are wonderful and great support. As in life, suffering in birth is complex. It can be physical pain, the awakening of old trauma- many things. In birth a woman must face herself. The beauty of it is that suffering can be transcendent. Although it is painful to watch, I’m not afraid of this. I understand that birth, motherhood, and life invite us to learn from suffering. A doula offers her love, understanding and compassion to a woman who works to confront herself in birth. In the process there is unbearable pain, and unbelievable joy.
… and the most rewarding?
The Mamatoto- the unity of mother/ baby the perfect dyad. In surrogacy or birth where the mother gives her baby to a family that longs to love him/her, the selflessness of life giving and birthing.
A few words that you feel describe motherhood?
Motherhood: it’s raw, it’s exquisitely beautiful, it’s the most difficult thing I have ever lived- it’s the sublime.
What areas do you serve in RI/MA/CT?
All of Rhode Island Southern Massachusetts up to the Boston area and parts on the Connecticut border
Your hope for the future of your profession?
My hope is that every birthing person has a Doula. I suppose that means our profession must grow profoundly- that’s what I hope more than anything.
Your services are listed on your website and I know you’re always open to emails and messages! Is there anything else you want to add?
I provide sliding scale for families. I do not want financial restrictions to prohibit families from having a Doula. This is a social justice issue!