Meet your Fort Belvoir Doulas!
You’re in the Washington, DC area checking out Stars & Stripes Doulas’ site wondering if we are the right doulas for you!? Of course we are. But choosing a doula to support them during their labor and 4th trimester is sometimes a daunting task. Aside from the credentials, what sets us apart from the other amazing doulas in the area? Our professionalism, our link to the military and public service community, but most of all, what sets us apart is who we are! Take a few minutes to get to know who we are. Questions that mostly have nothing to do with being a doula but everything to do with what type of people we are!
What was your dream job growing up?
Melanie: I always hoped to be a surgeon. I didn’t have a specific goal of what type of surgeon, but anatomy and the human body still fascinate me.
Justine: In elementary school, I did a presentation on how badly I wanted to become a nurse. In high school, I attended career training to eventually become a teacher. I was certain that was my plan!
If you could master one skill you don’t have right now, what would it be?
Melanie: I would love to be able to knit like my sister in law! She always sends us the best creations for Christmas. Recently, she sent the girls in my family messy bun hats! How fun would that be to make gifts for loved ones?
Justine: I’ve always wanted to sing really well. Unfortunately, I am pretty close to tone deaf.
What is “home” to you?
Melanie: We have lived in the DC area for the most of our marriage. With 7 moves in 8 years of our relationship (most of them in the Greater DC area), you would think that DC would be home for us — especially since I am from Virginia. We felt most at home in North Carolina but I would follow my husband to any corner of this earth and set up a home!
Justine: After four moves in ten years, I can honestly say that wherever my kids and husband are- that feels like home to me.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Melanie: Probably the Rascal Flatts concert where I was sure my husband was going to propose to me. He did not that night, but it was still very memorable. A second best would be Luke Bryan. Need I say more about that show?
Justine: I attended a “Kittie” concert in college. I apparently had a thing for Canadian heavy metal, and the fact that they were an all-female band. It was an awesome experience!
What’s your favorite comedy movie?
Melanie: How to Lose a Guy in 10 days — “Our love fern, you let it die!!!” or Sweet Home Alabama “So I can kiss you anytime I want!”
Justine: There are so many, because I love comedy! Probably The Big Lebowski, if I had to narrow it down.
What words of wisdom would you pass onto your teenage self?
Melanie: It’s really not that serious. It seems serious now, but it is really not that serious. I still have this argument with myself when I get an A- in college. Melanie, It really isn’t that serious!
Justine: Don’t care so much about what people think.
Tell me 10 things that I’d see when I walk in your door?
Melanie: Depends on the door you walk in! At the front door, of course I have the “Home is where the Marine Corps Sends Us” painting I did, my husband’s wall of love with all of his awards and gifts, a fireplace with a navy blue wall and a white mantle. From the kitchen door, our most used door, we have a coat rack hanging in the stairwell for book bags and kids coats, a large painting with a long driveway with mature trees overhanging, into the kitchen you will see an Instant Pot, a red Kitchen Aid and a Keurig. Through the dining room you will see my family command center, a shelf with a ton of cookbooks and our pet beta fish.
Justine: A checkered floor, my laundry room, a decorative picture, a “welcome” sign hanging in the entryway, our dog, Happy’s food/water dish and bed. I think that’s it, considering we live in a 3-story house and the lowest level is pretty vacant.
How many pillows do you sleep with?
Melanie: When pregnant? 5 When I am not pregnant? 3 or 4.
Justine: One if it’s new and fluffy. Two if they’re kind of flat.
How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Melanie: 5 minutes, powder, mascara and lipstick. 10 minutes if I straighten my hair
Justine: Including a shower? 15 minutes.
What kitchen appliance do you use every day?
Melanie: Cordless Dyson (If you don’t have a cordless vacuum as a parent, you need one!) Close second is my Keurig.
Justine: The coffee pot. I drink at least two cups a day!
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Melanie: Warning: When she warms up to you, she overshares and becomes your best friend!
Justine: Warning: laughs easily and often.
What song would you say best sums you up?
Melanie: Lady Antebellum “I Was Here” If you have never listened to this song you should. This song epitomizes the spirit of the military wife. The spirit of a mother. The spirit of a woman who wants to continue to do the best that she can so that she leaves her mark on this world!
Justine: I honestly cannot think of one! (Melanie’s Note — don’t worry, I will come up with one for Justine soon enough!)
Why did you choose your profession?
Melanie: My biggest inspiration was the professionalism and warmth I was exposed to when Melissa was my doula. I always wanted to be a Nurse and work in Labor & Delivery, but the more I got to know the Doula profession, I realized this was more of my calling. I am able to support women through pregnancy, labor and beyond on a much more intimate way than nurses. Nurses are incredibly special and I am so glad to work with them, but doula work is exactly where I am supposed to be!
Justine: I hired a doula for my second pregnancy because my husband was deployed by the time I delivered. I wasn’t too familiar with all that having a doula entailed, however. It was a life changing experience! It was probably the most crucial decision I have made as a mother, and it helped benefit my labor experience and mental well-being in ways I cannot describe in short summary. I felt called to support families in the same way, so when my friend asked me to be her doula, I happily obliged. The rest is history!
Where did you go to college and why?
Melanie: American Military University. We have moved 7 times in 8 years and I had started at 3 different schools for nursing. I was always frustrated to not have classes transfer or to have to do more prerequisites to never make it to the top of the wait list before we moved again. AMU was recommended by other spouses and I have had an incredible experience with this school! I am happy to say that I graduated with my BA in May with a 4.0!
Justine: Fresh out of high school, I attended Kellogg Community College for two years with a plan to transfer to Western Michigan University for my teaching degree. Then I married the military, and eventually ended up taking online classes through University of Maryland University College. It’s geared toward military service members and their spouses, and I highly recommend it.
What was your childhood nickname?
Melanie: Mimi and Malibu
Justine: My parents called me “Jus” or “Jussy”.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Melanie: Strawberry — but it needs the chunks of strawberries in it! I also really love fresh waffle cones!
Justine: Superman! I’ve only ever been able to find the authentic “Superman” flavor in my home state of Michigan, sadly. Otherwise, I love Ben & Jerry’s “Half Baked”.
What is your favorite birth/pregnancy/parenting topic to talk about?
Melanie: If you have met me, you know the answer to this question before reading. Breastfeeding. The good, the bad, the ugly and quite frankly, the alternatives. Breastfeeding does not always look like the ads in the magazines! I am all for helping mothers if they need it but I also love exploring other options whether it be bottle feeding, SNS, formula supplementing, pumping and donating, finding donor milk. Whatever it takes for a healthy mom and healthy baby!
Justine: I am always curious about the symptoms women experience in early pregnancy. It is definitely a conversation starter amongst moms, for sure. Especially when discussing weird cravings, or morning (i.e. “all day”) sickness. I remember wondering how on earth a tiny baby could make me so sick during my first pregnancy, when every sensation was brand new.
What is your favorite moment when supporting a client during a birth?
Melanie: That moment when the excitement has died down a bit, baby is here, mom is feeling recovered from delivery and she is looking at her baby thinking “I did this! I created a tiny human!” If her partner is present, they are all next to each other, proud, deciding if baby’s button nose is like mom’s or dad’s and that feeling “So this is love!” is all over their face. They are smitten with their new little one. And that is my cue to leave, to leave for them to be a family!
Justine: Watching the intense look on parent’s faces melt away when meeting their baby for the first time.
Written By: Melanie Binversie