Mother Run: Summer Roger of With Open Hearts Doula Services

Mother Run: Summer Roger of With Open Hearts Doula Services

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    Summer Roger didn’t always know she wanted to be a doula but she definitely remembers the day she realized it was what she was meant to do.  “I remember waking up one morning, about a year ago, and just knowing this is the path I want to follow,” she shares. “I woke up with such clarity, and ever since then I’ve thrown myself into my education and training in this field.  When I look back at the last few years of my life though, it’s definitely been a series of struggles and triumphs that have led me to this profession. I had a traumatic pregnancy with my first daughter. I was on bedrest for a month and was afraid for her life.  She was born at 40 weeks and 5 days gestation, after a slew of interventions and weighed almost ten pounds. My recovery was difficult, and my care during the postpartum months was substandard. About a year later, I went through IVF treatments and became pregnant with twins!  At 19 weeks gestation we found out that I was pregnant with two girls and that one of them was going to need open heart surgery shortly after birth (with more of them to follow). The girls were delivered by scheduled c-section at 37 weeks and 2 days and my daughter had her first open heart surgery at two weeks old and her second at five months.  My experience during the months after having the twins is absolutely what fueled my passion for caring for families and their newborns.”

    Her personal experience with her daughter’s heart surgeries led her to create With Open Hearts doula services, located in Phoenix, Arizona.  She knew that families like hers would need the extra support that only someone who had been in their shoes could offer. “My experience parenting a child who has special needs has taught me one thing more than anything else--we need to feel like we aren’t alone in our struggles,” explains Summer.  “We need to know that we are seen, understood, and supported in this new life. When a child is born, a parent is also born. That transition from one life to another is even more intense when that child has special medical needs. I step into a family’s story when they’re at an incredibly vulnerable chapter in their lives and help to support them through it so that they can thrive and not just survive.”  Since her business is driven by her own experiences, she is uniquely qualified to help families who are dealing with extraordinary circumstances and plans to use that experience to do big things in her city. “I would love to become more well-known in the special needs community and be the first suggestion that a fellow special needs parent gives to a newly diagnosed family (in Facebook support groups, etc.).  I want to partner with medical providers who are responsible for informing families of their child’s prenatal diagnosis, and become the go-to doula that they suggest to families in that situation. I want to step in and help to support them before their child’s birth and ensure that they have the appropriate resources during the postpartum months to advocate for their child and themselves.”

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    Training to become a doula and start serving others is no easy task.  “I’m postpartum certified and am looking for five more clients to become fully certified in birth doula care,” says Summer.  Doing her training through Birth Arts International while also raising her own little girl gang has been quite a journey. “My eldest daughter is 4.5 (she tells me that .5 is VERY important!) and the twins are 2,” she shares.  “When I first started my training, I struggled to make space in my life that was dedicated solely to my work,” she says. “I worried about having enough time, working ‘hard enough’ to make the sacrifices ‘worth it.’ I’ve realized that my working to better myself, my business, and the lives of others is always going to be worth it.  My family benefits from seeing me as a person outside of my roles of wife and mother and raising three girls. It’s been really empowering for me to think that my hard work now is going to inspire them to follow their dreams and create their own paths in life.”

    Her own dream has led her down a path of helping women and families who find themselves in a vulnerable place.  “The postpartum period is wildly different for each family and one of the most transformative parts of having the care of a doula during that time is the personalized care that you receive,” explains Summer.  “For many mothers, the only real support they receive during the postpartum period is their six week follow up visit with their OBGYN. This appointment is standard for each patient the doctor sees and leaves little time for personalized care.  The postpartum months are about so much more than just healing from the physical act of having given birth and doulas understand and honor that. Doulas provide parents with hands-on, practical advice on all things ‘infant care,’ help support the parent’s healing by creating time and space for self care, meal prepping, sibling support, evidence-based recommendations and referrals for outside support (lactation consultants, feeding therapist, PPD support, etc), and so much more.  The services that I provide really depend on the needs of the individual client and their specific situation.”

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    As a doula, Summer’s services are highly valuable to parents in all stages of family planning, pregnancy, and birth (she even offers things like prenatal planning and cloth diaper consultations!), but if people aren’t familiar with the work that doulas do, they may have trouble seeing why it is a needed service.  “No one has told me that my work isn’t a ‘real’ job, but people definitely have trouble seeing the value in my role sometimes,” explains Summer. “These are often people who haven’t ever given birth or adopted a baby, so I just realize that they don’t have the perspective they’d need to be able to understand. I explain what I do simply and hope that I’ve planted a seed for them in the future if they end up welcoming a child into their life!”  She doesn’t need everyone to understand that value in order to feel successful, however. “Success to me, on a small scale, is knowing that a doula client is better off for having had me as a part of their support team,” she shares. “Success in the grand scheme of things is becoming more well known, creating sustainable income for myself, and knowing that I have the ability to support more families by doing so!”

    Though Summer hasn’t been on her entrepreneurial journey for long, she is well on her way to reaching her dreams and using her experiences and talents to help mothers and families through those times they need support.  “I love knowing that I’m making a difference in people’s lives,” she says. “It’s incredibly rewarding!” As for her advice to other women looking to branch out from their role of mother and try their hand at their small business dreams Summer has this to say: “Your work is important, you are more than your role as a mother.  Honor that.”


Connect with Summer:

On the web

On Instagram


Thank you so much for reading!

Yours in business + motherhood,

Brittany Vanover

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