Monthly Archives: May 2013

You Know You’re a Doula When…

You Know You’re a Doula When…

You Know You’re a Doula When…

1) Everyone you know talks openly to you about their various gross body functions, and you don’t bat an eye.

2) You find nothing odd about answering an email about placenta encapsulation while eating breakfast.

3) You have received a text message with a picture of a mucus plug and the words “Is this normal?”

4) Your cell phone is never more than two feet away, and a duffel bag lives in the trunk of your car.

5) Your voicemail recording has instructions on what to do if the caller is in labor. Every friend and family member you have has left at least one “Help! I’m in labor!” message. They all think they’re the first.

6) You’ve come to recognize the glazed look on your partner’s face when you’re about to go on another Evidence Based Birth rant.

7) You’ve ever said, “Maybe we should take two cars. I’m on call.”

8) You’re always the mom who’s a “maybe” on the PTA volunteer list.

9) Every commitment you make includes the words “unless I’m at a birth”.

10) You’ve heard the birth stories of your child’s school teachers, the cashier at the convenience store, and every person you’ve ever met at a dinner party. You haven’t asked for them.

11) Your three year old knows, and properly uses, the word “vulva”, and YOUR kid was the one on the playground explaining where babies come from.

12) You’ve talked with a mama about sore nipples…on your cell phone…in a public place… in front of three total strangers…while waiting to have your oil changed… while accompanied by your teenaged son… and neither of you found anything unusual in this.

13) You automatically anticipate the “You’re a what?” that inevitably follows “What do you do for a living?”, and your well-rehearsed ten second “Here’s how I’m not a midwife” answer is already prepared.

14) Without blushing, you’ve told a couple to go home and have sex.

15) You’ve enthusiastically said, “Oh, you’re throwing up! That’s a great sign of progress!”

16) You’ve mastered the art of walking the line between biting your tongue until there’s a hole in it, and offering factual information at the right time and place.

17) You’ve learned how to ask a question and facilitate a conversation without giving an instruction or voicing an opinion.

18) You’ve wanted to leap across the room to  hug the nurse who said, “Oh, I’m sure intermittent monitoring is going to be fine. Let me just call the doc real quick about that right now.”

19)  Likewise, you’ve felt a knot in your stomach at the words, “You know, it’s not like more pain gives you a better baby.”

20) You’ve been the one who has held a hand, wiped the tears, and said “I’m so sorry” when there’s nothing else that can be said.

21) You know the feeling of of speaking softly and keeping a mama calm while your own heart is pounding in your chest.

22) Your family has asked you to please not watch childbirth reality shows because you keep yelling “Get her off her back!” at the TV.

23) Your sons won’t bring girlfriends home, for fear that you’ll say something about birth options and breastfeeding.

24) Whether it’s “surges”, “waves”, “expansions” or “contractions”, you speak multiple childbirth method languages fluently.

25) When a doc has said, “Let’s just all remember who is delivering this baby”, you’ve looked a mama in the eyes and whispered, “YOU are.”

So, what’s your “I knew I was a doula when…” moment? Comment and share!

**Thanks Chris M, Sara S, and Shannon S for helping me brainstorm.

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Too Late for a Doula?

Too Late for a Doula?

Most mamas who are looking for a doula tend to find me at sometime in their second trimester. This allows for a nice window of time in which we can get to know one another. Through regular phone check-ins after doctor or midwife appointments and our  in-home visits, I get to know a lot about someone’s wishes for her birth. I learn what comforts her, what she’s afraid of, and what she dreams of for her birth. Every now and then, though, I’ll get a call or an email from a mama who asks, “Is it to late for me to hire a doula for my birth?”  The short answer is, “No.”

I’ll usually ask when her baby is due, and assure her that if I’m not available, I can help her find someone who likely would be. I remember one such conversation in particular. She called one afternoon to say, “I’ve only just learned about doulas, and I know that I really want one for my birth. I’m hoping that you’re available.” “I might be”‘, I said, “When is your baby due?”  “Four days ago.”

Four days ago? And you’re calling me today? Wow. Okay. After chatting for about an hour about why she hoped to have a doula, we made an appointment to meet  at a local coffee shop the next afternoon. As it happened, she called early the next morning to cancel our appointment because she was in labor! She asked me to meet her at the hospital, and after a moment of consideration, I agreed.

It was a whirlwind relationship – the birth world equivalent to a blind date that ends in a Vegas wedding.  I brought my service agreement paperwork with me, asked questions about her preferences as we went along, and watched what she tended to do naturally to comfort herself, using these observations to make suggestions along the way. I paid attention to her interactions with her husband, and helped involve him to the fullest extent of his own comfort level. I reminded her that it was fine if she needed to be abrupt in her feedback to me as she was focusing on her labor. I helped her navigate conversations with her doctor. I offered words of encouragement, kept the room quiet and softly lit, and other little things I had done at many births before.

In the end, she was delighted with her birth, and happy that she’d had doula support. We didn’t have to know one another well for doula care to make a difference in her experience. Since then, there have been a few other late-in-the-game mamas who have called, including one who was given my number by her L&D nurse after she was admitted to the hospital. These short-term client relationships are fast and intense, but do-able. It’s better to have a doula that you haven’t had much time with than it is to want a doula and not have one.

So, if you’re asking yourself if it’s too late for you, my answer is that as long as the baby is still in your belly, there’s still time. Make that call. You’ll be glad you did.

Blessings on the Mama

Blessings on the Mama

belly

Today we celebrate the women who birthed us and gave us life. Let us also celebrate all women as mothers, whether we bring forth  babies or ideas – it is the creative and nourishing and  life-growing effort of the women, all of the women, that brings new energy and weaves together the circles that are birthing change in the world.

Let’s honor the mothers whose babies are missing from their arms, and those whose wombs have not carried the children they long for. Blessings on the mothers who snuggle in comfort and privilege with their precious newborns, and those who rock the babes who struggle for survival. Honor  the mamas who have nothing, who strive and toil for hours on end at multiple jobs to provide for their little ones. Let us honor the mothers who loved us well, and honor those whose mothers never knew how to love. We honor the mothers who are doing their best, even when their best doesn’t look very good.

Bless the mothers who have passed on, and the children who miss them dearly. We honor the mothers whose mothers choose not to speak to them, and the mothers who are surrounded by loving community and support. Bless the mama who birthed her child in joy and bliss, and the mama who birthed the child she resented carrying in her body.

Bless the mamas to be, and the mama who won’t hear from her children today. Bless the women who have many children, and the women who have chosen to have none. Bless the mamas who are loved by soulmates, and the mamas who are lonely. Bless the good mamas and the rotten mamas and the happy mamas and the crazymaking mamas and the sad mamas and the singing mamas and the mamas who can’t find their voices and remain in silence.  Bless the mama who stands in her power, and the mama who wants nothing more than to be seen.

Today, we honor the women – all women – who are mothers. Let us also honor the women – all women – who have had mothers, and have loved mothers, and the Great Mother and the Holy Mother and the Mother Earth we all call home.

Let’s put an end – all of us – to the story of the “I’m not good enough” mother and the “She’s wrong for not doing it my way” mother and come together as women, as mothers, to celebrate each other and love one another and see that we’re all doing the best we can.

Blessings on the mamas, and blessings on the journey.