I needed a doula when an EF4 tornado destroyed my town.

We are days away from the 4 year anniversary of the Leap Day Tornado. The news channels are doing their coverage of things going on in the town to remember the lives lost on that terrible day. It is a very emotional time that comes around every February.

My family and I were extremely fortunate to have only lost our things, that will never compare to the loss of a loved one by any means. But no one prepares for something like that to happen to them. You never think it will happen to you, that only happens on TV, somewhere else.

In the early hours of the morning of Feb. 29th 2012 I was awoken by my silly computer making beeping sounds as it powered down. I realized the power was out and I felt the house start to shake, “an earthquake?!” I thought. Then I heard things slamming into the sides of our house. I realized it was not an earthquake. It was a tornado. I had no idea what to do. I start to slap my now husband awake and screaming at him to go get the older girls, who were 5 and nearly 3 at the time, while I jumped over top of our then 7 month old baby girl. My husband had no time to get out of bed to the other end of the house where the older children where and jumped on top of me and our baby. I was screaming for him to please get the girls at the top of my lungs and his head was right next to mine and he couldn’t hear me at all. That gives you an idea of how loud it was.

A moment later I heard glass shattering and things breaking and crashing. This was it, we were about to die. Whatever was happening in the garage was about to happen in our bedroom. Then it stopped. It grew quite again, deadly quite. My husband jumped up and ran through the house and grabbed the older girls out of their rooms, where they stood screaming and crying, and came back to our room to begin his search for daytime clothes and shoes in the pitch black.  Meanwhile I left in pajamas, what did I care? We were alive. That is all I kept thinking, we were alive.

I was not prepared for what came next. We needed to get out of the house. While we were looking outside and seeing if our neighbors were alive the storm siren went off….a little too freaking late! We had a family member come get our older girls and we walked through all the destruction to a friends house with the baby in tow. She was still breastfeeding and obviously had to stay with me.

We ended up being homeless for 2 months until we were able to purchase a new house with insurance money. We spent a month in a hotel and a month in my mother in laws basement.

Boy, could I have used a doula for the emotional roller coaster of that time. The fear of the unknown. To have someone hold my hand and look me in the eye and help bring me back down from that anxiety attack. To help me get through the countless times I had to recount the events of that morning to what seemed to be everybody who was ever around.  Someone who could’ve given me encouragement when it seemed our insurance was being the opposite of helpful.

Doulas are a great physical support, yes. But do not underestimate the power of emotional support they can provide as well. That is priceless. Someone who understands and listens to your concerns. Who validates those feelings and can help you work through that and leave you at ease by the end of the conversation. Do they have disaster doulas? Someone who is there for you, to support you, in the wake of a disaster. If not, maybe we should.

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