It shouldn't just be Mother's Day when we celebrate our mothers — whether those mothers be our own or the women we call on as mothers regardless of blood. But while we pour out posts of gratitude every second Sunday in May, there are those who center their lives around the support of women as they transcend into motherhood.
One of those women? Khilah Butler.
When Khilah found out she was pregnant, she quit her job in Omaha, packed everything in a van, and found herself in middle Tennessee at The Farm, an intentional community world-renowned for its spiritual midwifery center. However, where she found her community and her support, she also found her pain. In February 2015, Khilah’s son, Natchez Forest, was born still at 32 weeks. Early in her grief, while on a journey to Zion National Park, Khilah made the commitment to help other women as a Doula — a woman who is trained as a birth companion and post-birth supporter.
Her story has since been told countless times in a podcast, various blog posts, and her own personal testaments. Not only does she help women bring their babies into the world, she also hosts a Sisterhood of Loss circle once a month in her own home for women who have experienced a loss of a child at any age or gestation.
Khilah has an unrivaled connection to the world that pushes her beyond the status of a Doula. As a woman who lives nomadically every few seasons, she’s a traveler (both in the physical and spiritual sense), a healer, and a survivor.
Here is her story.
Can you give us a brief background on what you do as a Doula?
I support families through comfort and counsel as their sweet ones emerge and transition Earth-side. I mother the mothers, bringing intention during their birth and post-birth experience based on their needs, providing a safe and sacred space. As an herbalista, I mix and bless supportive herbs for women needing herbal love regardless of their season and cycle. I call circle as a women’s gathering facilitator once a month out of my home for all women in the Three Moons Medicine Women Tribe. The Three Moons Medicine Women Tribe is made up of women from various backgrounds and seasons — Maiden, Mother, Maga and Crone. I also host a once-a-month circle, Sisterhood of Loss, in partnership with Blooma Nashville, for women who have lost their sweet ones at any age or gestation.
What inspired you to take on this role?
Natchez Forest was my guru into this calling. I use different terms than “work, such as service, calling, passion, practice. I was blessed with an incredibly spiritual pregnancy with Natchez. Soon after his conception, I received insight and intuitive messages that I’m called to support women in this lifetime. I sought care from the spiritual midwives on The Farm, in Summertown, Tennessee. They taught me, through the care I received from them, how to hold space and honor mothers through pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. Natchez Forest was born sleeping (still) at 32 weeks. On a soul journey in Zion National Park I answered the call of my soul and signed up for Doula training. I attended training 6 weeks into my postpartum time and began my practice...with his love and encouragement every step of the way!
How empowered does this make you feel?
Women have to access a very special, sacred place of empowerment when they birth their babies. Each time I attend a birth, I’m beyond impressed with their strength and power. Being a witness to that is a blessing and brings lessons, wisdom and magic info my life, gifting doses of personal empowerment.
You're not only a Doula, though. You're a traveler, too. Can you tell us a bit about your nomadic lifestyle?
Also inspired by Natchez. His father and I had always discussed living a non-conventional life, but continued to partake in the corporate rate race. Within weeks of discovering we were pregnant, we set out on our nomadic journey. Natchez Forest lit the fire of encouragement to live a life closer to our values, leading us each on powerful soul lead journeys. Traveling across Earth blew open so much beauty, knowledge, and strength that it will always be a way of life for me. Even though, I now have home base in middle Tennessee, I choose to live nomadically every few seasons to re-charge!
How do you think being a Doula fuels your passion for travel?
Working with women during the 10 moons of pregnancy and circling with women in all seasons — Maiden, Mother, Maga, and Crone — as well as delving into fertility tracking and charting as a personal practice, I have learned the wisdom of honoring the cycles and seasons of life, including my personal cycles. Through my healing journey, I have learned there is much insight to be gained from taking adventures to new places. Connecting with nature — whether through backpacking, road travel, camping, hiking, or digging my toes into the earth — is vital to my growth and allows me to fill my cup so I have an adequate amount of fuel to serve others in the ways this deep work requires. Witnessing life emerge Earth-side and supporting that process requires me to be balanced and healthy. Travel provides that and so much more for my soul.
What's a piece of advice for women thinking about taking on this unconventional lifestyle?
Be prepared for the rush of growth. Be conscious of the company you keep; critics will surface. Build a tribe of supportive people and network with others who are choosing to live outside the norms. It helps to have friends further than you and ones that are a few trailheads behind on the path.
Be bold and courageous, but also soften into the vulnerabilities non-conventional living can expose. Have fun and do it for no one else but yourself. If you need a friend, I’m always available to hold space and support women in their journeys!
What do you tell women who have experienced loss?
Be how you need to be, when you need to be it.
The journey of losing a child is dynamic and multi-faceted. Honoring ourselves exactly how and where we are in our journey is key. Also, build a tribe of women around you who have also experienced losing a child. If it is difficult to find a larger tribe of support, finding at least one or two close friends to be a positive witness in your grief is key. Don’t have one? I can be that friend!
What is your favorite aspect of being a Doula?
Fucking everything! But if I had to pick one? The beautiful, amazing, inspiring people that have crossed my path since pursuing my calling.
Photos taken from Khilah's Facebook with her permission