Monday, February 27, 2012

The Privilege of Being a Doula

Studying and reading, training and practicing. Watching and listening for your phone tirelessly while on call for my client. Packing and repacking my bag. Always on the lookout for new tools and techniques. Making sure my logs are up to date. Rereading the birth plan and making notes. Thinking about my client and her partner and their personalities - wondering about all I could or should or shouldn't say, and the very best way to encourage them. Praying and thinking about all of their cares, concerns and fears. Answering questions, and referencing your books repeatedly to make sure I'm giving the right answers. Taking naps and going to bed early just in case she calls. Making that ever so intricate schedule of on call babysitters, and back up babysitters.

Then I get the call. I know it's time. Relying on instincts and knowledge, I say, "I'll be right there." The joy and anticipation and adrenaline is like nothing else. I always feel excitement. I always make an espresso or stop for coffee on the way, and grab a Clif bar for energy. And every time, I'm reminded of all the reasons I absolutely love what I do.

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Most people are clueless as to what I do for a living, even many doctors and nurses. Sadly, some medical professionals have had bad experiences with doulas acting outside of their scope of practice and are therefore rather unaccepting of my presence.

But this birth was different.

Knitting in between timing contractions at their home, as she read a book of notes her friends had given her at a baby shower. Silence. No TV or music. Sipping chai together and deciding it was "ponytail time," as daddy decided it was time to shave so he could have smooth cheeks to kiss his newborn. Playing with the dog, so protective of mama she didn't want to go to the sitter when we left for the hospital.

After almost every contraction, Mama would say to me, "I'm so glad you're here." I lost count of how many times Daddy told me, "I don't know what we would do without you." It was the second doctor to ever refer to me by name, and the first nurse to shake my hand, hug me, and tell me what a pleasure it was to work with me. With me. I've never been asked to stay until the family arrived because they wanted me to meet them. Grandma wanted a picture of me with Mama, Daddy and "Little Sprig."

Seeing the determination in her eyes and face when I told her to look me in the eye and stay with me. The singular sweet tear that rolled down her face, while she gave thanks at the news that she was so very close to the end of the work. The look on her face when the doctor invited her to reach down and feel her baby crowning. The burst of tears and joy when he saw his son emerging into the world. The sweet melody as they sang to him as he rested on his mother's breast, fresh from the womb. It must have been a song they'd sung to her belly a hundred times. The announcement that it was a boy. The announcement of his very special name.

This family was special. This birth was special, as is every single one I am privileged to attend. They are all unique and memorable in their own ways, but this one is definitively a turning point in my career. I know how special I am, and how needed I am. I am inspired to read even more, to study even more, to teach more and share more. I will continue to be irreplacable and invaluable.

I am so very honored to be called a doula, to be called by mamas and daddies to be there. To never leave, never give up, and always believe the very best and to know there is always, always a way.

I love my mamas, daddies, and babies, and I absolutely adore my job!

Love and Honey,

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