Who We Are
We are a Doula Family Mother and Daughters family owned legacy business, we have served over 4,000 families since 1980
Carol Wachniak, CEO Founder wife and mother of eight and grandmother of 18. Doula Family is a 40 year, legacy family business, serving over 4,000 families. It didn’t start out with the end in mind. It started with a black hole of contrasting life events with many forks in the road, twisting and turning the good, the bad, and the ugly. Have you ever wanted to run away from your own story? Being vulnerable is not comfortable. If I don’t share my story then my why wouldn’t hold any substance.
On the last day of school 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Cherry asked me to come up stand in front of the class. With a creepy smile on her face she said to my class “You are never to talk to Carol again.” They were all looking at me, she continued on, “Carol, you have no business being here, you do not belong in this room with the new 4th graders. I’m flunking you, leave the building immediately.” I and my friends were in total shock, no one said a word. Feeling sick, hot flash waves of shame washed over me. I was publicly shunned and humiliated, my whole world came crashing down. Violated by the very person who I was told to respect, whom I could trust and be physically, mentally, emotionally safe with
I walked home all alone. I had no idea I was flunking, it was a double wham of shame. Earlier that year I had been sexually assaulted by someone else who I thought loved me whom I could trust. Fear of angry people and shame kept me from telling anyone of what happen. Anger, belittling and shame were used to control me. I never wanted these bad and ugly secrets out in the open to ever be publicly hurt again, because it meant that I was unfriend able, bad and ugly. This trio had a stronghold over me, they remained as a dirty secret eating away at my confidence for years.
My mother proceeded to have me tested at a feeder college prep elementary school near Northwestern University. I passed and was accepted. The problem was my opinion of myself was really in the pits. I accepted the cruel words of Ms. Cherry as a truth of who I was, unfriend able, unlovable, unwanted, and certainly not valued.
But, something changed at my new school. I had a wonderful loving teacher who spoke life into me. My new classmates were from all around the world. I learned a valuable lesson a life changing gift of hope. Through the eyes of how my new teacher and friends saw me, I slowly began to embrace a different point of view of myself. By changing schools, changing my environment, changing my association and friends, all of these changes helped me heal and crack open the door of opportunities that I didn’t even see coming. With international friends the world became my classroom. Never again was I going keep quiet. I will tell my story so others feel safe to tell theirs. I will never again be near people who are not trust worthy, supportive or speak life into me or others with whom I care about like Ms. Cherry. No one can steel my dreams, my life or tell me who I can be friends with. Mastering and understanding the true value of friendships, I’ve developed a skill in how to build great long lasting friendships. I have over 10,000 personal global relationships in my phone
If these events hadn’t taken place I would not have been available to what was about to happen next.
My mother became a volunteer at an adoption center near my new school. She would go pick up the babies being put up for adoption from the hospital, these newborn babies would come and stay at our house for a few days until a nurse would arrived to deliver the orphaned baby to the expectant Adoptive Parents.
One day, I went with my mother pick up a baby boy at the local hospital. What I noticed was the nurse was extremely angry and was handling the newborn very abruptly. There was a piece of white cloth tape on the babies back with a number on it. Suddenly this angry nurse decided to rip the tape off the babies back and with it came flesh.
The baby screamed out in pain and blood now dripping down its back. The nurse said “Oh shut up you’re fine.” My mother was furious. I was scared of that nurse so I hid behind my mother. I thought to myself, that this baby’s mother would never have given up her baby if she thought or knew that this was going to be this baby’s first experience in life.
My mother’s arms reached out like a momma bear taking the screaming baby out of the hands of this irate nurse and into hers, she severely reprimanded the nurse and we left. My mother’s attention went to the baby her gentle nurturing loving voice began to soothe this newborn baby as she spoke to him. What a contrast I saw in only a few seconds.
We left the hospital immediately, back then in the 1960’s, we didn’t have car seats so it was my job to hold this newborn, to soothe and comfort him, as we drove home. I remembering looking into his innocent eyes, they looked sad and empty, the little sparkle of light was missing. He was all alone, unwanted, unloved, and certainly not valued at least by the cruel example of the angry nurse. These emotions rushed back into my memories of my old school teacher.
During the little time he was with us, I witnessed something profound between the orphan and my mother, she poured her heart into him with unconditional love, passion, compassion. She wanted to make sure he felt loved, wanted and valued, his eyes started to come alive again. These were life giving moments, his human basic needs were being met and he started to thrive. All humanity needs to know they are loved, wanted, and valued.
This event made a lifelong impression an impact on my life. I remember thinking, “I’ve got to do something when I get older. This wasn’t right, this mother I’m sure really wouldn’t have given up her baby if she had support, and I knew in my heart the baby wasn’t the problem.” It was what and how adults thought about an unwed mothers and baby.
My Birth Work
After I became a mother myself, my firstborn a little girl was a vaginal frank breech, the significance of that is all my friends who had a breech were automatically a C-Section delivery. In the 70’s C-Section rates went sky high for any breech presentations, except for a few practitioners. Bottom line is the surgeon made more money for the delivery.
My next two births were boys, I broke my tailbone during their delivery, because I was restricted from choosing a more supportive upright position, instead of lying flat on my back. It took months for broken tailbone to heal.
It was during my fourth pregnancy, I was trying to find an OB/GYN who would allow me deliver on my hands and knees. Instinctively I knew I wouldn’t break my tailbone again if I could insure delivering in that position. I couldn’t find any practitioner who wasn’t under the rules and regulations of the hospitals they worked in they all said, “No”
That’s when I met a Certified Childbirth Educator and Midwifery assistant working with a Certified Nurse Midwife, an instructor for the CNM Program at Loyola medical school. They guided, nurtured, supported, and assisted me through my birth journey. They knew what was possible, they held the space for me until I could hold it for myself. I took Childbirth Classes, read the books they suggested, consulted with my back-up physician. I became an informed consumer willing to take full responsibility of my decision to have a homebirth. My homebirth was life changing for me, knowing the self-empowering feat I took responsibility, applied my faith to action and didn’t break my tailbone.
This is when I made a decision that everyone should have the opportunity that I had. So within 4 months I became an entrepreneur as a Certified Childbirth Educator and Doula. I began by hosting Childbirth Film nights at our local library, then held childbirth classes at local churches. Eventually we had continual classes 4 different classes per week with10-12 students for 12 weeks per class. The requests to attend births follow quickly behind the class loads.
The unwed mothers began showing up in my classes, their personal challenges and predicaments became very apparent. The orphaned newborn baby years before with my mother, the memory came flashing back now here I was, would I respond or stand by and do nothing. Watching these sad and heart wrenching choices of survival. Homelessness because, parents decided to throw them out of the house. Boyfriends ditched or were too scared or was only a fling. How to support themselves, finish school, all added up. Forcing these women into making an unthinkable choice of giving up their baby just to keep the approval of friends and family, a roof over their heads and more.
We opened our hearts and doors, mothers would come before baby, during labor or stay up to three weeks after mom had the baby. The magic that happened was amazing taking fear out of the equation, brought an opportunity for safety, love, compassion and a sense of belonging to take roots. Mothers, babies, friends or families were able to get acquainted their hearts melted. You could see it in their eyes, in their body language, tone of voice and the human side opened up and received the gift of the new baby in their lives was magical.
Nine years later,, after I remarried I began having my additional four children, number 5 was a face presentation which resulted in having a C-Section, number six was posterior 10 pounds 15 ounces which ended up as a C-Section as well. Numbers 7 and 8 were Homebirth VBAC deliveries. We were surrounded with family and these births were very healing for our blended family, even thou all the children were mine by birth having a step-father for my older children was a challenge. So it was very important that all the children were at the births of my last two children we all bonded as a family.
For years we sponsored, hosted local, national and international conferences for example "Birth in the US Informed or Performed" International Midwifery Conference In Suva, Fiji serving over 250 midwives, from the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, US, Samoa, Tonga, Canada
All of my own personal birthing experiences provided a view and perspective I've been there.
This is my why, for developing a legacy business and this why now more than ever I believe we have something to contribute through our CEC Doula Family program