Meet Anya Wait, Madison {badass} Birth Doula

Hey badass birther, I see you over there…

Hey badass birther, I see you over there…

Badasses recognize themselves in each other. I think I’m pretty badass too.

I have been through some pretty amazing and tough things in my life. When I’m faced with challenges, I prefer to lean into them. When I don’t know what to do, I get really determined and ask for help. I expect that things will not always go my way, and I’m prepared to step into the unknown. Even when I feel alone or awkward, I stay true to my inner self. And I surround myself with people who honor who I am because I’m not out to please others.

I’m scared and fearless, proud and humble, strong and vulnerable, firm and kind. And some people say I’m pretty wicked funny.

So I have a feeling you’ve read this far because you see some of yourself in my description. Or maybe you know you are destined to be a badass but have had a hard time finding your way to badassery. Well, read on...

I’m Anya Wait, and I am a badass mom, widow, partner, doula, photographer, non-practicing midwife, traveler, music lover, and avid reader.

I have raised five children, survived the death of my husband, built successful businesses, traveled to twelve countries, and gotten myself into - and out of - some pretty sticky situations. My life experiences put me in a different headspace than the average person, which has forced me to strip away many of the facades we humans create to try to protect ourselves from the things we cannot avoid. While the road has been long, and the struggle sometimes felt like too much to bear, it has resulted in me becoming a badass doula.

I have attended births in rural homes and metropolitan apartments, Amish farms, and suburban homes. I’ve worked in out-of-hospital birthing centers, level 1 trauma centers, and rural hospitals with no obstetrician available. I have attended unassisted births as an extra set of hands, and stood by during crash cesareans under general anesthesia. Since 1993, I have attended over 1,000 births.

And during all that time, I gave birth to and raised five children. Every birth was different, and all were equally fascinating. For many birth workers, birth itself is the greatest teacher.

Birthside Doula Care with Anya Wait

What is a badass doula?

A badass doula knows that how you move through pregnancy, birth and postpartum – not what kind of birth you have – is what makes you a badass.

I’ve sat by the side of clients who have had to make the hardest decisions of their lives with dignity, grace, and conviction when it wasn’t what they had hoped for. And witnessed others go through birth with vulnerability, knowing that falling apart is okay too. That is badass!

A badass doula understands...

the base, core elements of what it is to be human, and sits with presence and resolve to see people through their greatest challenges.

A badass doula is...

someone who can help you dig deep – deeper than you knew was possible – with tender compassion.

A badass doula can...

rise from personal trauma, and turn their pain into an uber-compassionate and non-judgmental capacity to be with people.

A badass doula knows...

their personal opinions are just that – theirs – and raises the choices and desires of their clients as the primary voice in the room. You are more than welcome to explain your choices to me, but you never have to.

Simply put, a badass doula sees the badassness in everyone else, and helps them feel badass too.

So how did I get into birth work? My journey...

The early seeds of badassery...

I was raised in Southern California, moved to Iowa as a teen, went to a Quaker boarding school (I got expelled for drinking, but the boys didn’t… hmmm, might that have planted some badassery seeds?). I got pregnant immediately following graduation from high school, but didn’t let that stop me. I moved to Missouri to attend college with my high school boyfriend.

During my pregnancy, I fell and went to the ER to get checked out. I waited forever in that ER because all the OBs were busy in cesarean after cesarean after cesarean. I asked the OB resident (when they finally came in), “How many cesareans do they do at this hospital?!” I was told the cesarean rate was 39%.

My birth - and baggage...

It didn’t take me long to decide I didn’t want to be a part of their statistics, so I did a bit of research, found a midwife and decided to birth at the local birth center.

My labor was long, and I transferred after 36 hours of active labor for some needed medical support. Somehow I thought I had done something wrong to need to go to the hospital. The message in those days was that if you planned a natural birth, but had interventions, you had a “mental block.”

To work on my “mental block”, I got a job working at the birth center when my baby was seven months old. I began to realize that everyone in birth work has baggage – it wasn’t just me – even the midwives weren’t perfect.

I had been fascinated by the doctor who attended me at the hospital, so I decided I wanted to be a family practice doctor specializing in OB.

I studied biology, and worked as the L&D unit coordinator in the local hospital, where I met my future husband who was the chief OB resident at the time.

We moved to rural Arkansas, where my future husband got a job, and there was an apprentice midwifery opportunity for me, which spoke to my heart.  I was attending more births as an apprentice midwife than my husband was attending as an OB. We were also able to attend births together, with him as my preceptor. Even the local pediatrician embraced my desire to learn, by teaching me how to assess babies immediately post-birth, and master newborn exams.

Then we moved to Indiana, where midwifery was illegal.

So... I worked “illegally” alongside my husband to deliver care to pregnant people in my area desiring homebirth. This also led to training as a doula so I could accompany my clients in the hospital more under the radar.  We moved to Wisconsin in 2000, and I was finally able to practice as a midwife in a more supportive environment.  I had a busy midwifery practice in Madison and left only to birth my fourth and fifth babies.

Then, because I can never get enough of babies and families, I began photographing newborns and finally moved full circle back to births. I had been a professional photographer since 2008, and had both the experience and the equipment to photograph in a variety of lighting situations (which is a must for professional birth photography), so I added that to my repertoire.

So how did I get into birth work? My journey...

The early seeds of badassery...

I was raised in Southern California, moved to Iowa as a teen, went to a Quaker boarding school (I got expelled for drinking, but the boys didn’t… hmmm, might that have planted some badassery seeds?). I got pregnant immediately following graduation from high school, but didn’t let that stop me. I moved to Missouri to attend college with my high school boyfriend.

During my pregnancy, I fell and went to the ER to get checked out. I waited forever in that ER because all the OBs were busy in cesarean after cesarean after cesarean. I asked the OB resident (when they finally came in), “How many cesareans do they do at this hospital?!” I was told the cesarean rate was 39%.

My birth - and baggage...

It didn’t take me long to decide I didn’t want to be a part of their statistics, so I did a bit of research, found a midwife and decided to birth at the local birth center.

My labor was long, and I transferred after 36 hours of active labor for some needed medical support. Somehow I thought I had done something wrong to need to go to the hospital. The message in those days was that if you planned a natural birth, but had interventions, you had a “mental block.”

To work on my “mental block”, I got a job working at the birth center when my baby was seven months old. I began to realize that everyone in birth work has baggage – it wasn’t just me – even the midwives weren’t perfect.

I had been fascinated by the doctor who attended me at the hospital, so I decided I wanted to be a family practice doctor specializing in OB.

I studied biology, and worked as the L&D unit coordinator in the local hospital, where I met my future husband who was the chief OB resident at the time.

We moved to rural Arkansas, where my future husband got a job, and there was an apprentice midwifery opportunity for me. I was attending more births as an apprentice midwife than my husband was attending as an OB. We were able to attend births together, with him as my preceptor. Even the local pediatrician embraced my desire to learn, by teaching me how to assess babies immediately post-cesarean, and master newborn exams.

Then we moved to Indiana, where midwifery was illegal.

So... I worked “illegally” alongside my husband to deliver care to pregnant people in my area desiring homebirth. This also led to training as a doula so I could accompany my clients in the hospital more under the radar.

And then I began photographing births. I had been a professional photographer since 2008, and had both the experience and the equipment to photograph in a variety of lighting situations (which is a must for professional birth photography), so I added that to my repertoire.