This is the second post in a series of blog posts based on interviews I’m doing with midwives who serve Utah County.
Today's interview is with Richelle Jolley. Richelle has been a Certified Professional Midwife for 20 years and is one of the few midwives experienced in breech and twin birth deliveries. She lives in Springville, Utah and attends home births in Utah County as well as Salt Lake and San Pete counties. Richelle is passionate about the work she does to strengthen women and families. She is uniquely positioned to do a very specific and powerful work with her clients. Let me introduce you to her!
For Richelle, it’s impossible to separate her work as a midwife from her spirituality. She became a midwife after a very clear spiritual call from a dream, and has never looked back! “I do this work with the intention to glorify God,” Richelle confidently states. From the moment of her call to midwifery, she felt “an unstoppable drive and desire to get myself educated so that I could do what I knew I was meant to do.” Richelle did just that and has now been serving growing families for over 20 years.
And throughout those 20 years, Richelle has found an ever-strengthening connection with Deity. She reflects, “I have been graced with the priceless gift of experiencing opportunity after opportunity to choose faith, trust, hope, inspiration and courage, resulting in amazing triumph and growth for me and my clients.”
Richelle sees herself as far more than a medical care provider for her clients, though she is certainly that. As I heard her speak about her clients, I sensed the great love and respect that she has for each of them and the honor she finds in being their guide through pregnancy and early parenthood. As she is guided by her faith in her work, she also invites and supports her clients to do the same throughout their pregnancy and birth experience. She calls on her clients to cultivate and follow their inner voice. “Whenever there may be fears or concerns that come up I get to call a mother back to her heart, reminding her of the witnesses of Truth she has felt regarding her baby, her pregnancy, her health or her birth.”
Richelle points out that pregnancy is an ideal time for personal growth and development. As there is literal life growing and developing within the woman’s body, there is an inherent energy of growth that is encouraging personal development within the woman herself. So, Richelle says, preparing for a baby is the perfect time to clear issues and overcome obstacles that may be holding the mother-to-be back: fears, traumas, false beliefs, etc. “This inherent energy of growth within is all a part of the natural preparation for parenthood” Richelle says, “it is a kind-of house cleaning and strengthening preparation for entering into parenthood with greater clarity, connection and confidence.”
Acknowledging that there is a process in preparing to give birth, Richelle notes, “It’s not like, ‘Oh here we are at birth, and suddenly, we’re going to have a great experience’. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into that.” Recognizing that birth offers challenge, Richelle invites her clients to take the time they need to prepare for the experience, to ask themselves, “Who do I want on my team?”, “What experience do I want to have?”, “What kind of personal growth do I want to gain from this experience?” Finding and creating the answers to these questions through pregnancy and birth becomes a journey for the woman. Throughout the process, Richelle holds space for each client and honors her unique, individual journey. Sometimes there are plateaus or lulls during the birthing time, and rather than trying to force anything or intervene, Richelle holds space and waits and watches until her client comes to a place herself where she finds the motivation to ask the questions and do the work to create progress in her birth journey. If needed, she’ll ask clients questions along the way that offer opportunities for self-reflection. Often these questions invite the mother to work through whatever may be holding her back.
Richelle firmly believes that this pregnancy and birth journey is perfectly designed to prepare for parenthood. “I love seeing the potential for bringing the couple together and strengthening their bond,” she says. She speaks of observing husbands developing admiration for their wives as they witness them in their powerful maternal expression. And she watches as a birthing woman’s trust in her husband is deepened as he is emotionally present for her. They face the challenge and go through the process together, and “come out on the other side feeling this sense of strength and capability that they take into parenthood.”
Speaking of the woman in particular, Richelle is inspired by the way that pregnancy and birth prepare a woman for motherhood. She says, “hopefully a woman can look back on her birth experience and know that she can do anything for her baby as she raises that child, because she just did it! She knows she can take on any possible challenge encountered in raising her child for whom she just explored the depths of her soul to give birth to.”
Richelle’s greatest fulfillment in her work is to see the growth and strength of character acquired by her clients. She relishes in the conversations she gets to have at their final appointments, as a client may share with her about everything she’s learned and how she’s grown through their time together. As one of her clients once expressed, “You believed in me and fought for me and helped me find the strength inside myself. I am a better mother because of some of the things you taught me, but mostly because of observing you and the way you interact with care for people. I have thought of your courage and fortitude to do things differently and it has helped me be brave when I am afraid.”
Two months ago my husband and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. We love to hike for our dates, but typically have to find shorter hikes because of schedule restraints. For our anniversary, though, we went all out and hiked to the summit of my favorite mountain, Mount Timpanogos! (That's its silhouette you see in my logo.)
While we hiked, I of course thought about super romantic things, like how grateful I am to be married to such a wonderful man, and how crazy it feels that we've already been married for nine whole years! But I definitely also thought about birth as we hiked. Because... well, I think about birth A LOT. Being a doula will do that to you!
As I hiked, I thought about how giving birth is like summiting a mountain.
I chose the name of my business, Summit Birth Utah, after a conversation with a doula friend, Kjell. Previously, the name of my doula business had been Sara's Birth Services, and it just felt rather ho-hum. I was chatting with Kjell about she came up with her business name, Ride the Waves Doula Services, and she said that as she considered what she wanted to name her business, a friend had asked her, "What do you find peaceful about birth?"
I adapted this question to my thoughts about birth. What do I love about birth?
I love birth because, while giving birth, you can discover your strength in a way that's unequaled by anything else. I love birth because it teaches us about the beauty and wonder of our bodies. I love birth because it builds strong mothers and families.
I also know, that sometimes, birth isn't this way. For giving birth to be a truly empowering and transformative experience, you need preparation and support. And that is what my work as a doula is all about. As I say in the About section of my website:
Welcome to the journey. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, your pregnancy marks the start of a new path on your journey of motherhood. As your birth doula, I've walked this path before. I have the knowledge and experience to help you prepare for and enjoy a positive and empowering birth.
I love birth. Like hiking to a mountain's summit, giving birth pushes us past our perceived limits. It urges us to call on our inner strength and climb to new heights. And the journey's pinnacle, as we snuggle our new little babes to our skin, rushed with hormones that fill us with indescribable love, is truly life-changing. It's empowering to look back over the ascent and its challenges and say, "we did it!"
So I named my business Summit Birth Utah.
I'd love to be by your side, supporting you as you discover your strength through birth. To schedule a free consultation to ensure we're a good fit, contact me today!
Hi, I'm Sara. I'm a childbirth educator and birth + postpartum doula serving Utah county. I'm a twin mom (plus one!), natural VBACer, and birth lover!