Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Doula Drudgery

A fellow doula recently wrote a great post called "Being a Doula is Hard," and it has inspired me to also talk about the pitfalls of my profession.

Anthro Doula hits on a lot of great points:

Nervousness about being called at inopportune times, being woken up at all hours of the night, working on very little sleep, having to be in hospitals all the time, dealing with difficult care providers, being emotionally and physically supportive to someone else in their most vulnerable time, and having to be the most attentive you've ever been.There's also the fact that doula work is not always steady (many people don't always want to pay a reasonable fee)...

The sleepless nights are sometimes torture, and yes, being in hospitals all the time is a drag (I love, love, love home births - obviously since I had one myself! I love working with midwives, who are quiet and caring; I love homemade food that clients provide; and the comfort of someone's living room couch is a godsend).

As a doula, you will miss family outings,
like this one to Saunders Farm
I think the worst part for me is being away from my family. Because not only is it the 12 hours (or more) when I actually attend the birth, but it's also the frequent phone calls/texts from clients in early labour, and the emotional and physical toll I must overcome in the days following.

Take this past weekend for example. I spent Saturday dealing with a migraine, as well as frequent communication with a client in early labour, which lasted almost two days. I was called to the birth in the wee hours of Monday morning, and got home 12 hours later. I then stumbled around the house for a while, and finally crashed at 8pm.

I miss my daughter a lot when I'm at a birth, and although I'm dying to crawl into my pajamas and a warm bed, I also want to spend time with her before I get my rest. I also struggle with the resentment that I must get up the next day and go to my "real job," spending even more time away from the little munchkin.

So why do I do it? I could get paid extremely well in my day job, especially if I took it on full-time and became more involved in the design of specific projects.

But something keeps calling me back to labouring mothers, and I follow that call despite the all-nighters, despite my longing for my daughter and husband, and despite the sterility of a hospital room.

When called to a birth, driving through the dark streets past midnight, I see myself tied by invisible strings to all the labouring women around the world. I feel this safety net around me as I drive with other midwives and doulas, on our way to yet another birth. I hear the laughter shared by women, I feel the loving touch, and I smell the scent of baking Groaning Cake (click for a recipe!), which permeates the birthing place. I carry these sensations with me into the hospital room, and they sustain me and my client through the long night. And as the head is delivered, and a wriggly little baby slips into the world, I say a small thanks for this miracle, and for my ability to share in it.

1 comment:

  1. I can imagine it is very difficult but also very rewarding getting to help make the process a little easier and seeing the miracle of new lives regularly! :)


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