Welcome to Agape Doula Services!
My name is Maria Armstrong. I live in Portland, Oregon, and serve the greater Portland Metro area, providing holistic doula services before, during and after childbirth.
My conscious journey with birth began with the pregnancy and birth of my first child, in 1998. I had come to the US from The Netherlands, and it was only normal for me to look for a home birth midwife. Most everyone I grew up with had home births, and it is with fondness that I remember meeting the babies right after birth -the peaceful atmosphere, the smells, the love and warmth, the magic that something miraculous had happened there.
After a wonderful pregnancy, I went into labor two weeks before my due date. The experience of the birth of my firstborn son was incredibly intense, overwhelming and orgasmic. Something hidden had been awakened in me: my inner strength to give birth, the power to share in creation. I learned from that birth that a woman can dilate from almost nothing to pushing a baby out in one hour. I learned that giving birth was beautiful and very raw at the same time. Nothing could have prepared me for that.
The birth of my second child was very fast and even more overwhelming. The details escape me. I remember being apprehensive about the intensity and I remember telling my husband I would never do this again. And then, I had no choice but to surrender to the enormous powers at hand, giving in, letting go of another baby I had grown inside of me, welcoming her, my beautiful girl.
But the birth of my third child welled up something new within me. It was a long labor, and it was challenging in a very different way than the other two. I felt I had to tap even deeper into trusting my body and God, and I was much more connected with my baby throughout the process. This labor did not happen to me like the other two did, I had to work for this child to be born.
The experience of my third birth came back to me when I became pregnant with my 4th child. The intimacy I had felt then was something that I wanted to experience on a deeper level with this birth. As I was pondering and talking about this, someone mentioned unassisted birth to me. It was an amazing moment of truth for me, in my heart. My mind could not catch up as easily. In the months that followed, I joined Laura Shanley's Bornfree! forum and learned all I could until my mind had caught up and was at peace. The birth of my 4th child was unassisted, with only my husband and my daughter present, and it was a most wonderful experience, painless and filled with light.
Since then, I have become more active in the unassisted birth world, as part of the moderating team of Laura Shanley's forum and Yahoo group. My desire to encourage women to trust birth, to let go of their fears, and to educate themselves slowly took shape in real life as well, and I signed up for doula classes in 2009 with Birthingway College of Midwifery.
After an Ancient Art Midwifery Institute (AAMI) Midwifery Skills Lab in Tillamook, in April of 2010, I decided that I actually would love to be a midwife. I am now a student of Midwifery with AAMI and am very much looking forward to this part of my journey.
As a doula, most of my experience has been with mothers choosing a hospital birth. Though their experiences are very different than my own, I find that supporting women crosses through those differences -without judgment, respecting choices, trusting decisions, knowing that we all have to do what is right for us.
I am also involved in Eats On Feets, an online network for community breastmilk sharing. Shell Walker, a Phoenix, Arizona midwife started the original Eats On Feets page in late July of 2010. In October 2010, I set up the very first page of the globally launched network, the Eats On Feets~Oregon page, and helped write the Resource for Informed Milk Sharing.
In the future, I hope to become certified as a Lactation Consultant through ILCA. I am looking forward to teaching prenatal, birth and postpartum classes to incarcerated women through a program called PEACE, and I am committed to supporting low income, teen and at-risk moms.
My other interests are childbirth education, homeopathy, nutrition, especially Weston A. Price, natural living and home educating. I am also an active member of the Greek Orthodox Church.
The word agape means divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional and thoughtful love in Greek. I chose the white lily because it denotes spirituality, and is a symbol of sexuality. In Ancient Greece it was offered to expectant mothers along with a rose blossom -the lily symbolizing a boy and the rose, a girl. In Christianity, it also represents chastity and virtue, white symbolizing purity. In Ancient Egypt, the lily was a symbol for fertility.
Lastly, the birth attendants I have met on this journey have been truly wonderful, in both support and respect, for my clients and for myself. It is an honor to be a part of the Portland birth community.
To further my education, I recently attended:
as well as many AAMI conference calls featuring educators and midwives like Gloria Lemay, Gail Hart, Carla Hartley, Dr. Tiffany Fernandez, and many more.
Copyright © 2010 Agape Doula Services.
Web site designed by Bruce Petersen