The Doula

 

The Doula

This novel has it all: courtroom drama, romance, heartbreak, self-discovery, universal truth, suspense, true friendship. It could be a study on family dynamics, or the path to healing after suffering loss, or the power of instinct, or the journey of pregnancy and childbirth, or mother-daughter relationships, or coming of age, or, or, or….And it is a page-turner! I didn’t want to set it down, and it’s been a while since I read a novel like that. I began it in the piny woods of East Texas on our family camping trip, relaxing by the campfire. I read it in the dark tent by flashlight into the wee hours of the morning, then carried it around in my purse for a week to read a few pages in stolen moments. I finally finished it at 4:30 one morning in my bed last week, having awakened early with the main character on my mind, and NEEDING to know how the story would end! The next day, I was sad that it was over, wishing for more.

I promise the main character’s life will offer you insights into your own. You might even share some of her same life experiences. In the end, Caro will be a new friend. I am privelaged to have her creator, the author who “birthed” this story, as a new friend of mine, as well. I met her this summer when her son attended my “Reading is Magic” camp. This weekend, Bridget and Liam came over for a rainy day play-date. Between refereeing a lively wrestling match between our 5-year-old sons and keeping the peace over coveted crayons, I was excited to ask her a few questions about the book and her own life experience. She offered to share the prologue with my readers, and would love to do a talk with us after you get a chance to read the book. If you are in a book club, there are questions in the back to guide your group, and this would be a great book for sparking a meaningful discussion. Bridget has been traveling around the country doing book talks since The Doula was published in September, but we are lucky that she is currently living in Dallas. Here you go, enjoy the first taste of this delicious and beautiful novel. Then go pick it up at the nearest book store!

Prologue

Other women have babies. I watch. Help. Like St. Christopher carried the Christ child across the river, I usher mother and babe through the raging currents of labor to delivery. Observing a new life push its way into the world is a sacred act. If I could, I’d keep watch over all babies far beyond their births. But once I’ve shepherded them out of the womb and onto their mothers’ breasts I can only say a silent blessing that the remainder of their days might pass with as much awe as that first one.

Doula is Greek for servant. I come from a long line of funeral directors. They’re doulas of a sort, shepherding people from this life into whatever comes next. Standing as witness and helper in that in-between space is the privilege of both doula and undertaker.

Whenever someone asks why I became a doula I see my own mother, miscarrying. It might appear that birth and death lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, as far apart as any two occurrences could be.  But that’s not true. They’re mirror images. A portal opens between realms, one we call “real” because we see evidence of it around us, and another that causes endless debate since we lack confirmation of its existence.

My mother once joked that she wished someone would find a way to call from wherever they went when they died, give those of us still alive a preview of what was in store. The portal is shrouded, but I do believe there’s something beyond the here and now.  Every so often, if we’re paying attention, we’re rewarded with a glimpse — or a memory, perhaps, of that other place. The veil between where we stand now and that other, unfathomable domain grows thinnest when we’re poised at the threshold, about to move between worlds.

In the midst of our lives we don’t always see where providence is leading us. I might have carried on the family business but when I discovered that I could assist with arrivals instead of departures, I chose to celebrate life coming in. By the time I completed my doula training I had already learned that birth, like death, brings us face to face with the profound mystery of our insignificance and our greatness. What I didn’t know was that I was about to experience the two transitions merging in nature’s insistently cyclical pattern.

The summer my mother miscarried I made her a promise: to keep what I’d seen to myself. But that was just the beginning of a season of mourning. By summer’s end, all the losses my mother refused to talk about clamored inside me, drowning out the still, small voice of my intuition. Years of holding on to all I knew passed before I thought to question the cost of my silence. By then I understood all too well that the price was nothing less than my livelihood, nearly my whole life. And like a newborn moving down the birth canal and out into the world, I had to make my way through another dark and uncertain passageway, stand trial, deliver myself.

~ by Bridget Boland

  

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

William Faulkner ~ Absalom, Absalom!

 About:    Bridget Boland’s work has appeared in Conde Nast Women’s Sports and Fitness, YogaChicago, and The Essential Chicago. Her debut novel, The Doula, was published by Simon and Schuster September, 2012. Excerpts from her work have won the Writers League of Texas Memoir Prize, and the Surrey Writers Conference Nonfiction Award. Ms. Boland teaches writing classes on fiction and memoir, coaches other writers, and offers seminars on yoga, energetic medicine, and writing as life process tools.

 

Comments

  1. Liza Lake says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! I just saw a flyer about this book last night. It sounds great.

  2. Lowry,
    Thx so much for the glowing review. I’m thrilled the book moved you and would love to hear from other readers too!
    Bridgwt