What a journey these last five years have been as a doula. It has been my ultimate privilege to have walked alongside nearly 100 families as they ushered life into this world.

As of February 1st, I have stepped down as owner of Nashville Doula Services in order to pursue Nurse Midwifery at George Washington University in Washington DC. Leaving has been a bittersweet process, to say the least, but I depart knowing that NDS will continue to grow and beautifully serve the Nashville community.

Three years ago, Whitney and I had the dream of starting a doula agency. We wanted to increase our ability to serve women in Nashville, while also providing a model that allowed doulas to work as professionals in this industry. After a year of brainstorming, planning, and creating, we launched Nashville Doula Services in 2016. Somehow, we did all of this while both being pregnant and then giving birth to babies just a few weeks apart. Let me tell you, when you go into business with someone, you have to fully trust them because you are in their lives 24/7. There is no one I would have rather shared these last few years with. Through each other’s postpartum seasons, business shifts and transitions, conflict resolutions, agency celebrations, and figuring out how to balance all of this while also being mothers – we made an unstoppable team! Our heart was to create a company that exudes integrity, professionalism, compassion, and sisterhood, both to our clients and the local birth community. I am so proud of where our company is today and the reputation it bears.

In our first two years of operation, NDS has served over 200 families. Although I was not personally at each birth, I feel connected to every single woman that chose to work with our agency. I may have only been the one processing contracts and payments, but I thought about each of their stories every time I saw their name in my inbox and spreadsheets. I truly loved getting to attend births, as well as work behind the scenes administratively.

Not only did I love the bookkeeping side of things, but getting to manage our incredible team was the highlight of the last two years. Every member of NDS was hand-selected to be part of this special group of women. It is rare for colleagues and co-workers to become some of your closest friends, but each woman became just that. Team meetings never ended before midnight because after the business agenda was complete, we poured into each other lives. Tears, laughter, and wisdom were shared daily, and the bond within our group has allowed us to work seamlessly as a team to provide the most cohesive care for our clients. Every member of our team has unique gifts and strengths that contribute to the heart of NDS. And I consider each of them lifelong friends.

As I step away from this company, it brings me peace to know that ‘my baby’ is in such great hands. Whitney will continue as owner, alongside Vicki Woods, who has been here since the inception of Nashville Doulas. The two of them have the passion and drive to continue running and growing this amazing agency. I can’t wait to see where they will be in the next couple of years. I know for certain that all the families that choose to invite NDS into their intimate birthing space and early postpartum days will feel the compassion that I have experienced firsthand by every person on this team.

I also want to say thank you to the Nashville birth community. I have met some of the greatest women – fellow doulas, educators, midwives, OBs, nurses, acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and therapists, to name a few. There is a wealth of knowledge and resources in Nashville, and it has been incredible to watch the community grow as pregnant women now have more and more birth options. I hope one day to come back to Nashville to work alongside some of these great professionals as they continue to empower women.

And to each client that I have personally served – tears fill my eyes thinking about each and every birth. Witnessing your strength and courage as you bring your baby (or babies) into this world has changed me forever. Home births, water births, inductions, pre-term labor, twins, pre-eclampsia, breech, precipitous, prodromal, high-risk situations, c-sections, VBACs, repeat clients – no two births the same. Yet each birth has left a mark on my life and I count it the greatest honor that you chose me to be with you in that sacred moment.

My hope is that as I shift into the role of a nurse and then a midwife, I only increase my ability to provide nurturing, empowering care to every woman I serve. No matter where my journey takes me next, I will always carry the deeply held belief that birth need not be characterized by fear and pain, but rather it can be filled with joy and peace.

My doula heart will go with me always.

Love,

Merrill Durham
Founder of Nashville Doula Services