In 2010, when I finally became certified as a Doula with Madriella I reached out to the other Certified Doulas in Connecticut – I searched out the various websites and listings, trying to network trying to make connections, and eventually ended up reaching Cindy Lou Burgess, who was a warm loving person that I wished more folks would have taken the time within the CT birth world to know who she was.
There were a lot of days spent in the old guitar shop, she and her beloved husband Brian owned, working on how we could build cohesion and communication where it seemed lost within what to us seemed a very torn community in our area…
What we spoke most of was trying to inspire a greater level of cohesion in the birth-worker community. Being able to rely on each other for not only backup as Doulas, but for a sisterhood and community where we all mattered to each other, where we would support each other. No one Doula was better than another for every woman, and each Doula deserved to be respected (and maybe loved) for what they brought to the table.
Cindy Lou taught me early on that my idea of a beautiful birth wasn’t necessarily the same as that of the client I served, and that was ok, it didn’t need to be, and I didn’t need to rail against it but simply acknowledge that what the mother needed was what was paramount. A healthy baby wasn’t all that mattered, but a live and well and as emotionally undamaged mother by her birth (if it went south) or ebullient by her birth mattered. As a Doula I learned from her what I should have gotten from my training and few years of birth doula experience I already had, but it didn’t sink in, and that was patience really was key to being a Doula.
Cindy Lou turned me on to the group “Sisterhood of the Aspiring Midwives” and we both spent time with that cohort learning midwifery, and it gave us the focus to continue our studies further – as we both came into the group with plans of becoming a Midwife, and both had spent many years studying independently before going down different educational paths to do so.
We created a FB group for Doulas that ran for years, even when I was no longer the Mentee, but the Mentor as while we had both studied Midwifery together I helped her with it because she wasn’t really tech savvy and technology was my day job, and by summer of 2014 I was the one who had grown wings and actually was serving as a Midwife and I got the calls as the more senior, which we both laughed about greatly. She was amazing and worked so hard for the knowledge and ability to support women in their place.
When Gary (we married in August of ’16) and I decided to move forward, she was my confidant. She knew what fires I’d walked over the years, she stood by me when things were hard, listened to me cry many a night after I was widowed in ’13, and when things were wonderful as I grew forward in life and love. She knew what I was willing give up in Nevada and return to Doula work – not Midwifery (Illinois law prohibits what I studied for,) for as close to as happily ever after as I could get, and ya know – it’s not always easy but it’s well worth it.
Just like she said it would be.
Cindy Lou was an amazing woman. I left CT 5 years ago, and faded from peoples memory as to how she and I had been very close as birth workers for those few years, and few knew how close we remained.
Early this morning someone remembered, and offered me condolences. I had no idea at the time – I knew she wasn’t around for some reason when I’d tried to call several times this week. I had no idea she’d passed. Typing this has been fraught with a bunch of breaks for tears. I knew something was up as I tried calling her many times this week, as we both did when we had a long situation with a birth that we needed someone to debrief with.
Cindy Lou taught me to be all about birth even when it wasn’t the birth I would have had for myself. All I can do is continue and try to be what she and I held as the ideal birth worker in the face of this. I will miss her a lot, but know she’s now with the Angels. Enjoy your peace Cindy Lou – we’ll carry on for you here on Earth.