Where Did Your Doula Train?


Today I read on www.doulamatch.net that there are 67 different doula organizations listed on their site. Wow. While there has been an increase in recent years of different certifying paths I had no idea there were that many.

As with just about everything in life and business there are pros and cons to this explosion of new ways to train doulas. Respectfully I submit a few of my thoughts on this matter:


  • More professionals and parents are seeing and reaping the benefits of doulas
  • Easier access to training, along with likely various payment methods
  • Doula has become a household name
  • Being a doula does not have to be synonymous with charity work; more doulas are rightfully charging a living wage, which in turn allows for more pro bono or volunteer work when their own financial needs are met
  • Teams of doulas can partner up or create agencies which can lessen the hard work of being on call
  • Fresh organizations can bring fresh ideas and instill new energy
  • More families are being served


  • The trusted and well known organizations who have been around for years have a well crafted method of making sure they are creating professional doulas, do the newer organizations also have the same ethic or are they jumping on an opportunity to sell an online program to as many people as possible?
  • Clients and professionals may find that there is no standard of ethics, codes, or grievance policy — essentially there is no national standard for doulas.
  • A person seeking to become a doula may not be able to tell the difference and spend their educational budget on a program that is not suited to them or does not equip them to be a doula. They may choose one solely based on ease of training, location, or budget price.
  • Doulas who are fresh out of training, in my opinion, require mentoring from their organization as well as continuing education and hands on experience. Will they receive this from a course that only includes a booklet of skills they check off and submit?
  • The doula profession has a high burnout and turnover rate. The initial interview process and reference check can save an applicant much time and money — sometimes being a doula isn’t a good fit for everyone or it isn’t a good fit for a particular time in someone’s life. If it isn’t a good time or fit for the doula it is not going to be a good fit for their clients or the professionals they are in contact with.

I mentor newer doulas in our area who reach out to me and go through an application process and are a good fit. My view is the world needs more doulas. Experienced doulas should be available to help the newer ones where possible but one of my requirements is for my mentees to have completed a training through an approved certifying organization and either to have been certified or actively working towards that certification. Certification is for everyone’s benefit. It demonstrates the doula understands and is committed to a scope of practice and follows it. It gives any families and medical personnel a place to file a grievance should that ever be necessary. It gives the doula ongoing support through the certifying organization and continuing education. I myself trained and certified through CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association) and kept my certification active for many years. Eventually I moved my certification over to Hypnobabies once I became a Hypno-Doula but I still attend CAPPA conferences when I can and I was an ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) leader for 7 years and received extensive training, support, and continuing education through that organization as well.

So if you are considering becoming a doula, carefully consider who to train through. How long has the organization been around? What do they offer in the way of not only training and certification but also in ongoing support and continuing education? Their low training fee may not be a bargain if their philosophy does not mesh with yours or if you are getting an incomplete education. My advice is to always try to round out any training with local volunteer opportunities such as a Birth Network or La Leche League, etc, in your area.

If you are considering hiring a doula, how can you know if they have had a good training? Ask who they trained (and hopefully certified or are working on certification) through. Google the organization and see if there is a public scope of practice listed, if there is a grievance policy, if the organization has been around for some time. There could be a new organization that is wonderful and has just begun so also listen to your instinct! Was there any in person or hands on training or was it completely on line? Do they connect their trainees with any mentors? Do their trainees attend yearly conferences or continued educational opportunities? Are there clearly defined guidelines of how to achieve training goals (ex: a set amount of births in a set time frame with satisfied clients as well as satisfied medical personnel giving reviews). Do they do background checks or at minimum, call references? (you probably wouldn’t want a doula with an arrest record, for example).

Growth is good and at times it can be messy. For the first half of my career I usually had to explain what a doula was. Rarely do I have to do that now and I love that! Few people are going to go into birth work unless they have a desire to help families. I feel most of the newer organizations are trying to make it easier to have training easily accessible and are trying to bring in fresh ideas to improve on trusted outlines.  We just have to make sure there are some professional standards and that everyone is getting the training and the trained doula they expect and deserve. Happy doula-ing and birthing!


All Rights Reserved, 2017, Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula.



Interviewing Obstetricians


Life circumstances and changes in our choices can lead us to seek out a new obstetrician. The provider you used for your gynecological or fertility care may not be who you feel comfortable with for your obstetrical care. You may want a different experience if you are no longer a first time mom and longed for something different during your birth. Your insurance may have changed and no longer covers your original ob/gyn and hospital as in network. Maybe your friends or mommy group are raving about a different practice in town and you want to investigate. Whatever your reasons, feel open to the idea of interviewing a different provider.

This post is focusing on in hospital providers because the majority of women do give birth in hospitals and there are many articles and posts about interviewing home birth providers. It is also titled Interviewing Obstetricians because our country has a majority of obstetricians providing prenatal care. In hospital providers are typically obstetricians or certified nurse midwives but may include family practitioners in some areas.

You will begin by calling the office of the practice or provider you want to interview and asking for a pregnancy consultation or a “meet and greet”. This appointment will give you a chance to meet the provider and ask questions — it is not an exam. Having a list can help you focus and maximize the time afforded to you.

The list below is a starting point of questions you may want to ask and is by no means all inclusive to every scenario or your individual circumstances.

  • Is your practice suited to my wishes and desires for birth? (I want to go natural, I want an epidural upon request, is delayed cord clamping or immediate skin to skin encouraged and available?)
  • What sorts of prenatal tests do you offer or require?
  • What tools are available to help me achieve the birth I desire? (birth balls, peanut balls, squat bars, showers, tubs, wireless monitoring or intermittent monitoring, heating pads or a community microwave for hot packs, iv narcotics, nitrous oxide, anesthesiologists available all hours, etc.)
  • What are hospital policies regarding freedom of movement, nurse ratio to patient, triage, acceptance of doulas, photography rules, eating and drinking, and how would those change if medicine was used or not used?
  • Will I be staying in the same room I birth in or moving to a postpartum floor? (both scenarios have pros and cons).
  • What is your on call schedule like? Will I have a chance during my pregnancy to meet anyone who may be delivering my baby or can I request a specific provider to catch my baby?
  • Are there time limits on my labor or pushing if mom and baby are doing okay? What is your epidural/cesarean/natural rate (keep in mind that numbers may only reflect they are a higher risk practice or hospital, but this can lead to more questions about their philosophy.
  • How do you feel about up to date evidence based recommendations made by ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)? Should an issue arise that requires a decision will we make time to discuss risks/benefits and discuss alternatives (barring an outright emergency).
  • What level NICU is available on site or would there be a transfer of baby if there was a serious problem?

Again, this list is not exhaustive and you may want to tweak or add more questions but it will hopefully get your thinking cap on so you can make the most of your interview. You may want to ask more details about postpartum policies or cesarean policies if those are important to you and depending on how much time you have with the provider. Whatever your list of questions becomes, listen carefully to the answers and then pay attention to what your intuition tells you as you process the visit.

Kimberly Sebeck, CLD, CCCE, HCHD  Knoxville Doula 2016


Doula Cost & Payment Questions


Many more families are using doulas because they hear how valuable they are. The use of doulas are not relegated to “crunchy” or “natural” clients any more. However, if you’re new to the world of doulas, you may have some questions about the fee and payments. Rather than wonder about it — let’s talk frankly about it.

While I can’t speak for all doulas, I can tell you how my pricing and payment is set up.

  • A complimentary, no obligation consultation is available for anyone curious about hiring me as their doula.
  • A $200.00 non refundable deposit holds your spot. Why is it non refundable? Because I may refer out/turn away other clients near your estimated due date to ensure I do not have too many clients. It also helps me schedule any mentees or backups, prepare my birth bag, and helps you to have less than a full balance to pay in the coming months.
  • The remainder of the package you purchased is due by 37 weeks. Why is it due before the birth? Because, simply put, I don’t want to ask you for a check on the way to the hospital or bring that energy transfer (money) into the birth. By 37 weeks our money transactions should not even enter into our energy exchanges, appointments, and interactions. We will have already had our prenatal appointments, classes, and gotten to know one another. My life will revolve fully on being on call for you at that point.
  • Pay how you need up until the deadline of 37 weeks. It doesn’t matter to me if you pay something each month, the full fee at the beginning or the end, etc. What types of payments do I take? Cash, check, credit cards, and PayPal.
  • Discounts are available for postpartum care if you have hired me as your birth doula or if you have purchased in advance a certain amount of hours. Why is this? Again, it helps me with planning and I can focus much more time on your family based on a suggested schedule.
  • Postpartum services in smaller amounts or randomly are available but not at the discount. I usually ask for a weekly check for postpartum services rendered without a contract.
  • Insurance is not yet happily reimbursing for doula clients. Can you file to your insurance and see? YES. I encourage it. I do have a NPI (national provider identification number) and can create an invoice for you to submit after the birth of your baby. Medical Savings Accounts are the easiest way to receive reimbursement, however, your insurance may attribute the charges to your deductible or out of pocket and submitting a form is worth your time.
  • This is my career as a birth professional, not a hobby. My overhead includes rent for an office, class materials, doula materials- many of which are replaced at every birth, continuing education, a life on call not knowing when I could be supporting a client for days at a time, payment processing fees, lending library, self employment taxes, professional organization fees, and a cap on how many clients I can take per month.

I hope this answers some of your questions and if you have specific questions about package pricing, please contact me at kimberly.sebeck@gmail.com

Kimberly Sebeck, CLD, CCCE, HCHD “Knoxville Doula” 2016



{K: Birth Story}

Wild Blossom Photography

Kimberly has been my doula (natural birthing coach) for my past two deliveries.  Kimberly’s career is supporting mother’s as they labor through bringing their child into the world. Kimberly watches mother’s unite with their own children, all while there was a hole in her own heart as she hasn’t known her own birth mom. A precious DNA ancestry gift from a client, began to open the door for Kimberly and her birth mom to be reconnected. The test connected her to a cousin and eventually to her mom. 40 years later, they are united! When she asked me to take photos of their reunion birth, I was honored. Kimberly’s story of adoption, how she found her birth mom is simply beautiful. I love how God is true to His word: “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Just like birth stories, the long…

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Friends & Family At Births


This post might not be popular with some people, especially if you are a family member or friend who finds they resemble some of these descriptions. However, I work for my doula clients to make sure their birth experience is one they can cherish and this needs to be said:

If your pregnant daughter, friend, niece, granddaughter, cousin (or any imaginable relationship) requests that you not come to the place of birth while she is in labor — respect her wishes.

I can hear the excuses now. But we want to be there. But we want to see baby be born. But we want to be the first in the family to hold the baby. But she is my (insert relation). But the partner is (insert relation). But, but, but.

She said she didn’t want you there. Actually, she probably didn’t say I don’t want you to be there. She probably said something polite and nice like, please respect our privacy. I will be working hard to bring a child into the world. We would like our privacy. We will call you once we want you to come or once baby has arrived. It may take a long time and we don’t want you hovering. Please respect our privacy.

Please listen and respect her wishes. Please know this is an important day and if she has made any attempt to ask you to not intrude on her privacy and concentration, she has thought long and hard about how to convey this to you without hurting your feelings.

Let me tell you what happens in some scenarios when people don’t listen to and respect a laboring woman’s wishes. At worst, you can cause her labor to stall or completely stop or contribute to a dysfunctional labor that can put her at risk for interventions she has been wanting to avoid. This is especially true when a woman is attempting a natural birth, but it can happen even with an epidural for pain relief. On a less serious level you are disrupting her concentration and possibly creating a memory she would rather not have attached to the day her baby and your (insert relation) is born.

Why do I sound so harsh about this? Because after 16 years of being a doula I can tell you I have seen some family members behave in peculiar ways. Yes, I understand you are coming from a place of love and concern but it boils down to people making choices to disrespect what a laboring woman has requested. Here are some scenarios I have witnessed:

  • A laboring woman tells her family she is going to the hospital to be checked out and she will give them an update. Upon her arrival, she finds there is a room full of family eagerly asking private details she may not want to share and interfering with the staff assessments. Her labor stalls or stops and she is sent home, only to return a few hours later and this time to keep it to herself.
  • Despite clear instructions and a sign on the door that the laboring woman does not want visitors, family members continue to come in because they “just have to know what is going on.”
  • Family members falling down and wailing on the hospital floor when they hear a woman requires a cesarean for safety, disrupting the precise and necessary care from the medical providers.
  • Family members physically grabbing me and shaking me for updates.
  • A laboring woman finally getting a break from her labor either via a natural spacing in her contractions or some medicinal pain relief and taking a well deserved and needed nap only to have family members barge in wanting updates even though they had been told she is napping.
  • Family members bringing cheeseburgers and fries into the room of a laboring woman who hasn’t eaten in 12 hours.
  • Family members threatening to sue the staff if the baby isn’t here soon.
  • Family members accosting all staff, doulas, partners, and even the woman if any of them come out of the room and going so far as to be standing in the hallways eavesdropping with their ear against the door.
  • Family members making comments that they have never seen such a large belly, telling her to get an episiotomy, random myths and outdated advice, asking her why she is trying to go natural, telling their own birth horror stories, or one of the worst, saying I just don’t know what I would do if you or the baby died.

Are you thinking this is fabricated? It isn’t. This actually goes beyond a case of bad manners. These sorts of behaviors can be dangerous, especially if there is a medical situation going on. When an emergency cesarean is needed, staff needs to move fast. As a doula, I move out of the way and let them do their job when something becomes medical. Family members falling down in the hallway is hindering the staff and the well-being of mother and child, and possibly even other mothers and children. People expressing their love and projecting their fear by voicing that the process is taking too long or they are bored or that something negative will happen to the mother and baby is not only not helpful, it is harming the process and the persons you profess to love. Showing up at a hospital when you have been asked to wait for instructions is crossing a boundary of respect and can make a woman feel like she needs to hurry up. Speaking of, many family members actually say, can you hurry up and have this baby? I have had women hiding in their bedroom or hospital room and sometimes locking themselves in a bathroom simply to find the privacy she desperately requires.

Each woman is different on how she views the need for privacy during labor. In the early stages of labor, a room full of chatter and excitement may be helpful for some and unhelpful for others. As active labor begins, most women prefer a quiet and private environment. There are times I will step out and allow partners to work privately during labor. There is a reason nurses, midwives, and doctors do not sit and stare at their patients. We know that disruptions are disrupting, it is as simple as that. Childbirth is not glamorous and is usually messy. We have not arrived at a point in our society where it is acceptable or comfortable for women to ooze bodily fluids in front of others. Would you want someone to watch you moving your bowels? No, you would probably try to wait until you had a private moment and birth is much the same. Women need to feel supported and one way to support them is by listening to their wishes. If you have been asked to respect their privacy, please listen.


As the mother of an adult daughter, I have often wondered how difficult it would be for me to know she is in labor and to have been asked to not participate in or view my grandchild being born. I understand it must be hard. I understand that our society has created much fear about birth. I understand that Hollywood makes it seem that a woman’s water releases/breaks and we have a baby born at the hospital mere minutes after a screeching ambulance races her there.


That’s not how it works. That’s especially not how it works for first time moms. Average labor time is approximately 15 hours. Average pushing time is 2 hours for first time moms.The placenta may take several minutes or longer to be birthed after the baby.  Unless you live many hours away, there will be time for you to arrive. After a baby is born we want mom, partner, and baby to have a minimum of one hour for bonding and breastfeeding and that is after the clean up, physical assessment of baby and mother, and any repairs. Your loved one just birthed a baby into the world and needs that time to de-escalate and bond with and nurse her baby. You could be notified the moment the baby is born and if you live locally would still have time to be waiting to see the baby.

The baby will not grow 2 heads or horns or grow up and go to college before you get there. I promise. And you might be able to bring that new mama a wonderful favorite meal on your way to visit (don’t forget daddy or partner!).


If you are anxious, excited, nervous, antsy (and who wouldn’t be) I have a list of suggestions for you.

  • If you are crafty, work on creating something for baby
  • Go grocery shopping or cook freezer meals for the new family
  • Clean their home (with permission of course)
  • Walk their dogs, do any errands they may need
  • Write a letter to your loved one(s) and the new baby arriving
  • Go shopping for last minute essentials or just for fun
  • Assemble any baby items that need assembling (swings, bouncers)
  • Make every attempt to send peaceful and positive thoughts, prayers, and vibes
  • Trust that her request for privacy is in her best interests and what she needs

If you simply must be at the place of birth, find the waiting area and occupy yourself with something and wait for more information. Family members can be a wonderful source of encouragement. I am in no way advocating that family and friends be kept out of the loop or prohibited from being at the birth if the mother wants their support and company. I have seen mothers, sisters, cousins, best friends, brothers, fathers, mother in laws, etc., be a positive and useful source of support and encouragement– but please be invited.

Kimberly Sebeck, AKA Knoxville Doula, 2016


Important information for every woman, whether you have given birth by cesarean or vaginally, whether you have had no children of many. Hysterectomy is the most common non-obstetrical procedure for women in our country. Approximately 600,000 are performed each year in the U.S. 1 in 9 women will have one. It’s time for us to focus on our pelvic floor health.

August ICAN of Knoxville Meeting — Pelvic Floor Health

Please join us to hear our guest speaker, Autumn Synowiez, OT, speak to us about our pelvic floor health. Whether you are planning to get pregnant, are pregnant, or have birthed your babies in the past — we can all benefit from good pelvic floor health. Those with diastasis recti, perineal repairs, and cesareans will especially benefit from this information.

Meetings are FREE, however we gratefully accept donations for our local 501c Non Profit Chapter. (suggested donation $1-$3)

Partners and children are welcome for most of our meetings. We respectfully ask that if your child is needing a quiet moment that you step out if needed.


A Birth/Adoption/Reunion Story


I have a magical tale to tell you. It’s a birth story. We all know how much I love birth stories, but this is my most favorite of all. It’s mine.. but so much more.

I am adopted. I grew up knowing this. My brother is adopted and he came first — 7 months before me. My adoptive family received a phone call one night and they were told there was a little girl a the hospital from a surprise, private adoption situation. They said yes, on the phone, and I always joke that I was taken “sight unseen”. There are photos in my baby book of our party we had in celebration of the adoption being final. My adoptive parents never hid it or made it seem weird. We had several cousins who were also adopted. I had been told my birth parents were young and a few other details that didn’t give me any identifying information. I could write a lengthy novel about how being adopted affected me but there isn’t room for that here. For the most part it was simply a fact of my life. I never had the negative connotation that some adopted children do, but it still affects you. Every medical form I filled out in my life had a big line drawn through the family medical history section with the letters N/A (not applicable) scrawled on it. Every year on my birthday I wondered about my birth parents, specifically, my mother. Where was she? Was she thinking about me? Was she even still alive? Was she happy? Did she have other children? Did I look like her?

Every day access to the internet and my being pregnant with my own daughter coincided roughly at the same time. I found myself wondering more and more about my birth mother. When did she find out she was pregnant with me? Was she happy about it? Did she feel me moving inside her and had she had prenatal care? What were the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy — what if it had been a case of something darker than young love? Would my own daughter be born and share some characteristic or physical trait of my birth parents? Would I even know? As a child I had told myself fantastical tales that I was really a princess and had been given up for adoption to protect my identity. I told myself completely opposite tales of my mother searching endlessly for me and then switching to a story that she had moved on and never thought of me. I found myself in the early forms of forums and message boards (AOL, anyone?) and I decided to register on some national sites for adoption. On these sites you would put a few identifying details such as the hospital you were born at, a birth day, etc. The thing is, in 1972 it was not uncommon for birth certificates to have changed some of these details. I looked at the postings from birth moms looking for their children. Nothing matched. I did, however, connect online with a woman who worked in the hospital where I was born. HIPPA had not yet been signed into law. She said she would search through any records and give me what she could. She gave me a list of last names from all the births that had happened at the hospital I was born at — with a week spread of my birthday. She also gave me more information that something might be off about the details because I had been told I was born in an ER of a hospital that did not have a maternity ward and she told me there had always been a maternity ward where she worked. On a side note, I am happy to report she found the birth family she was looking for and I appreciate her doing that investigation for me even if it would now be prohibited due to HIPPA.

So I had this list of last names. What would I do with it? I would stare at it and wonder about my heritage. But I didn’t know what to do with it.  Around this time I did consult with an attorney in Florida, my birth state, about having the adoption records unsealed. It’s a big investment. Financially, time and travel, and emotionally. I decided to pay instead for some “non-identifying information” in the hopes it would give me a direction to head in and some medical information. It was fairly unproductive and didn’t tell me much about either my medical history or heritage. It did confirm some of the details my adoptive family had told me. Not that they were hiding or lying anything but they only had the information given them by the attorneys or a few other involved parties and who knew if it was accurate?

My daughter was born. She looked exactly like I knew she would. She looked (and looks) just like me. I became caught up in being a new mother, beginning my doula journey, and eventually going through a divorce. My birth family did not occupy center stage in my brain any more. I changed names, I changed addresses, emails, phone numbers.  I cannot remember if I went and updated any of the adoption registries. I do remember once checking out how many were now available online and finding it dismaying how many charged a fee simply to register. Maybe no one was looking for me, anyway. Maybe they didn’t even want to be found. I could respect that my existence may be a painful chapter someone wouldn’t want to open or revisit.

Years pass… I lose my adoptive grandfather to a heart attack. I see my adoptive grandmother aging. There are estrangements in other parts of our family. I begin to fear I won’t have any family. I begin to feel alone. I am not alone, of course. I still have my amazing second husband and my daughter. I am surrounded by good friends. I just feel like something is missing.

I am hired by a client to be her birth doula. She also wants a postpartum doula but due to the high number of births I attend she is concerned I won’t be able to help as much as she wants so we search for another postpartum doula for her but nothing pans out. It works out that all of my birth clients have their babies by the time she needs postpartum help. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity. She writes books and lectures on African Americans seeking out their heritage and stories. In our discussions I tell her I am adopted and we speculate and joke about what my heritage may be. She asks me if I have ever done a DNA test. I say no. She asks me why not? I struggle to explain that I am not sure anyone would be happy if I was connected with them. What if they have their own family, perhaps not even telling their spouse or children? She encourages me to do one if only to find out my country of origin. Near Christmas when I am ending my work with their family she hands me a DNA test and says, “Merry Christmas.” I cry at her thoughtfulness and generosity.

I immediately do the test as soon as I get home and mail it off wondering how I can wait weeks for the results even though I have waited 40+ years for any answers. My results come back at the end of January. You receive them in an email and I am shaking so hard I can barely type to open the results. It tells me that I am mostly French Mediterranean, with a smattering of some other countries, like Germany. I am delighted by this news since France is my favorite country. I also have a ridiculous amount of DNA matches to relatives. One is extremely close of a match and says this person is a first cousin or closer. Wow! I am in shock about this. Does he know about me? How are we related? I spend many hours searching through the matches but the format is difficult for me. There are few photos of people and then it is usually very old photos. One sticks out — if I was going strictly on looks, this must be a relative of mine. I save her photo to my computer. betty Her name is Betty. She is deceased but is the relative of my closest DNA match. I am confused and slightly frustrated at how difficult it is for me to navigate the matches. I put it away for a bit and go on vacation with my husband and then get busy with work and life. After six weeks I open it all back up again, take a deep breath, and message my closest match. It is May 5th, 2016. My email says:

Hi there. I was gifted a DNA kit by a client of mine because she knew I was adopted. You are my closest match and while I hope I am not bothering you, I did wonder if you knew anything about my being relinquished for adoption back in October of 197- in Florida.

I would greatly appreciate any information you may have on my biological relatives and/or background.

Thank you.


I wake up on Sunday, May 8th. It is Mother’s Day. I feel sad for some reason. I write this post on my personal FB page:

I’m quite conflicted on Mother’s Day. I’m adopted and don’t know my bio mom. I have no relationship with my adopted mother due to many reasons…. I have felt quite motherless all my life but especially since I was 17 and moved away from my mom. I tried recently to care for her in her old age..for a few years, in fact, but tigers don’t change their stripes. All I can say though is that I see amazing mothers every day. Ones who struggle. Ones who seem to breeze by. Ones who have heartache. Ones who find the true meaning of mothering in their journey with their children… Which is how I feel about my own child.I had to wing it but I know that my child is worth more than anything. Anything. Being a mother myself…indescribable.

My husband, daughter, and I go on a wonderfully long walk with our dogs. I receive lots of loving messages, texts, etc from friends and clients. I am sweaty and happy from the physical exertion and the sentiments I have. I plop down on the couch and write a quick post thanking everyone for their love. I see a notification in the window of the DNA site and think to myself, oh, it’s probably just the staff wishing everyone a happy Mother’s Day. No. It is this email:


It turns out you are my niece. One of my sisters is your Mother.

There is more to it, his contact information, etc, to contact him off site. I make some noise although I am still unsure what it was. Derek, my husband, is in the kitchen and runs over to see what is wrong. I can only point to the screen. Derek says well email him! I email him and he gives me my birth mother’s name and a few ways to check her out online as well as a bit of family history. He is excited! I spend a few hours looking at my mother’s FB page, and her pinterest, and her Instagram.. and I am thrilled and slightly amused she has such a strong social media game. I can see she is making things public on her FB profile and assume it is so I can see it. I see that it is, indeed, Betty, who was my relative and is in fact my biological grandmother.

The following day I am at a birth. I get a notification that I have an email from my mom. I am very focused on my clients so I wait until I have just a moment to myself and scan it quickly. It will have to wait.  I have waited over 40 years. I need to read it and savor it. When I am able to give it my full attention I find she has filled in so many details. All of the details I had been given were accurate, except for the hospital part. I was born at a different hospital and transferred to the hospital my birth certificate is from. She had been looking for me. Was this one detail the reason we missed each other on adoption forums? Sometimes I feel sad about it but I am so overwhelmingly happy and in awe of how we found each other that it really doesn’t matter. We have found one another. We were looking for each other, yet both in a way as to not intrude into someone’s life who may not want to be intruded upon. My friends have many questions and many are unanswered, especially in this early stage. They ask, well, didn’t you ASK HER? And I say… imagine me talking to me. It’s true. We are very alike.

Since then we have talked many times, frequently, and for hours. She will be visiting me in person soon. I have been emailed by the rest of the family and found out I have a brother and step-brother and aunts and uncles and cousins and a stepdad. We are both amazed how some saliva in a test tube brought us together. We are eternally grateful to my client who gave me the test.. In a way I can’t really describe in words. I remember my client saying if I found my birth family that she would know we were supposed to have met each other as doula and client. So you see.. this is a birth story. It’s a lot of birth stories. And as is the case with birth stories, I haven’t shared every snippet of information. Some of it is private and precious and some of it is not mine to tell, but we have the rest of our lives to cherish our magical story.

Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula, 2016