So I’ve been thinking about being a doula. I started thinking about it when my friend Katherine was pregnant and she introduced me to her friend Shira who is a doula. I wanted to be like her.
Then I kept thinking about it while I was pregnant, considering having a doula myself. After having the Pie I’ve been thinking about it a lot more.
My birth experience was not perfect, and in fact I am still pretty dissatisfied with the midwife who I ended up with. I felt like she had left me out in a field to labor alone, driving her pickup by every now and then and sticking her head out the window to check on me, without even cutting the engine before speeding off again, dust clouds pluming in her tracks.
“You cool? No baby yet? Ok, I’ll be back later”
She didn’t really say that, but that’s how it felt. When I was pushing against my cervix for 6 hours (oh sorry – we’re about to head a little into TMI territory) and I said I didn’t think I could do it this way – “this way” being un-medicated without a fully dilated cervix – she told me that giving birth hurts.
No shit, Sherlock.
One of the things that made it so wonderful was the people I had at my side. The nurses were amazing. The anesthesiologist and OB who finally delivered my Pie were warm, personable and incredibly skilled.
There’s no way I could have done it without my mom and my mountain man. My mom was a great comfort to me, she held my hand (and my leg) and it was so valuable to have someone who had done this 4 times there with me.
But my mountain man stole the show. He was amazing. He never left my side, he made sure I had plenty to eat and drink, he got me in and out of the tub, on and off the birthing ball, walked me around the halls, and made sure I was resting and comfortable. He didn’t sleep the entire time we were in the hospital – he tried, but he didn’t. Maybe that part wasn’t devotion – maybe that was just that he wasn’t comfortable on that little cot. But I’m counting it as devotion.
I was so lucky to have such a wonderful birth partner. My mountain man, who told me that I shouldn’t get my hopes up, told me not to have outrageous expectations of him, and reminded me that he didn’t even like babies, was the best doula I could have asked for.
And it makes me want to do the same for other people.
A few months ago I looked up certification information for becoming a doula, and I was thrilled to see that classes are taught by Penny Simkin, doula and childbirth educator extraordinaire, who happens to be the very woman who taught my mountain man to be so amazing.
It’s kismet. OK maybe not, but it’s sounding better and better.
Best part – I could work when I wanted to, be my own boss, and help people along the way. I think I want to start with being a postpartum doula, although it would be pretty amazing to be someone’s birth and postpartum doula. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to be a birth doula. It’s too close still to my own experience to do that for someone who isn’t a friend already. And I can see how incredibly valuable postpartum care would be.
Yesterday I bought the books that are prerequisites for the class on BetterWorldBooks. I got over $100 worth of books for $30, and helped fund literacy while I was at it. BetterWorld is awesome.
I am going to start my reading, start a research project, and see if it’s still something that I’m interested in pursuing in a couple months. If it is, I will register for the April certification course!
And I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I can support mothers who have lost their babies. One of my very best friends lost her baby just before the Pie was born, and it tore me to shreds. Although it’s been over 4 months, I still think about it all the time. My friend was living overseas, and being so close to my own due date I couldn’t travel to be with her or go to the funeral. I tried to buy gift certificates for a local grocery that had prepared food, but their online store wouldn’t accept payment from out of the area. I emailed her mom to ask how I could help. I sent a card and emailed her and her husband. I needed to do something to help my friend, and there wasn’t a lot I could do. As a postpartum doula I could be with the mother, help her manage food and the household stuff, and help her to begin to work through the long road of baby loss. I don’t know if there are postpartum doulas who specialize in this, but it’s something I want to look into. It would allow me to help other families when I could do so little for my friend’s.
I never ever thought that doing work like this would be for me. In fact I never really even thought I wanted to have kids. But I changed my mind, and now I think that supporting other mothers in those first few weeks would be a fantastic way for me to spend my energy. I had a lot of support, and the second and third weeks with Pie brought me to tears many nights. My new normal was hard to adjust to. I had to figure out how to care for a newborn, myself, and my new family – while staying connected with my mountain man even when I fell into bed a crumpled, spent mess at the end of the day.
I’ve been there. I think I can help.