A day in the life of a labor doula…it’s so far beyond hip squeezes and water fetching!
It’s not always a day. Sometimes it’s a night. Sometimes it’s our anniversary, or a child’s birthday. We have to say no to faraway trips, or drinks with friends. We never know when we are going to get that call, but we are always prepared for it.
Then, that day comes…and it’s not always a day. Sometimes it’s midnight, thirty minutes after we fell asleep for the night, when a client decides they need us sooner than they thought. Regardless, we are prepared. We grab our packed bag and grab five dollars for Starbucks…the little things fuel us during a long process!
We get into our car and feel thankful the big snow storm held off. We rejoice finding a parking spot, and pace ourselves as we walk into the hospital ready to go, regardless of what was going on in our lives. The pause button is hit on our family as we prepare to support yours, and we wouldn’t have it any other way as you deserve our complete energy and commitment.
We don’t know what we are going to find behind the door of that labor and delivery room, but we are prepared. Sometimes, parents appear calm and ready. Sometimes, we are walking into a situation that was not ideal for the client. Sometimes, we walk into chaos. We attune and adjust, with our hands and our hearts.
Sometimes the work is easy and flawless. Sometimes it is difficult. Every birth is different and support looks different for everyone. Sometimes, it’s being the presence to tell a father he can go to the cafeteria and recharge with food and rest. Sometimes, it’s just sitting in the room and holding space while a client gets rest after a long awaited epidural. Sometimes, we are face to face with a client who swears they can’t do this, encouraging them that they are doing it and they will do it. Sometimes, we are sitting with a client whose birth plan has become completely derailed, supporting them and talking to them as they cry for their baby, who is in the NICU, knowing that while we can’t bring their baby, we can stay with them so they aren’t alone.
When it is mutually decided that the family has settled in after the birth and is ready to bond alone, we leave the hospital. We have seen huge things, we have witnessed life, and supported all the people involved. We take the situation, put it in our bag along with everything else, and walk out into our car. Slowly, the things we need to do with our family come flooding back, but first, we look at our needs. Sometimes we have only spent two hours at the hospital, but sometimes we have spent twenty-four.
We may stop at our favorite sushi place on the way home, as a well deserved treat. We walk in the door to our two energetic children who have been waiting for us to come home, so excited to play with us and show us their new game. We sit down with them for a good twenty minutes, and then our partner turns to us and urges us to go eat and rest. It’s then in our room that we process. We may call a fellow doula to rejoice, cry on a partner’s shoulder or just take some deep breaths as we add another job well done to our journey of supporting clients, and prepare to receive the next call…