Whilst getting ready to go out to see a movie today, I thought about all the extra considerations I had to make because I’m on call…which led to thinking about all the things that doulas do as a matter of course and what it means to be a doula…
Being a doula means leaving the house with a doula kit, foetal monitor and a change of clothes that is comfortable and presentable; clothes you don’t mind getting blood or bleach on.
It means always booking the aisle seat at the movies and holding your cell phone, set to vibrate, on your lap in case you get ‘the call’.
It means having a back-up person to be available to take your child to their paediatrician appointment and to sit in on parents’ meeting at school.
It means having someone on standby to do the school pick up run if you’re at a birth.
Being a doula means sleeping with your cell phone next to your bed and not knowing when you get into bed, whether you’ll stay there ’til morning.
It means writing notes to your children when you leave in the middle of the night for them to read in the morning because they “miss your good morning” when you’re gone.
It means icing a cake at 2am for the birthday party the next day when you’ve been awake for 40 hours straight.
Sometimes it means missing the birthday party altogether.
Being a doula means singing at the top of your lungs and eating rice cakes for their noisy crunch to stay awake on the long drive home after a birth.
It means getting to recognise the night staff at your local petrol station.
Being a doula means carrying each mom in your heart at all times, thinking about them, worrying about them, feeling their anticipation.
But being a doula also means being present the moment a baby comes Earthside and takes their first breathe…over and over again.
It means being the sister or mother and holding a woman through the most important day of her life.
It means telling a woman over and over again that when she says “I can’t”, she actually is.
It means holding a space for her to recognise her own power and witnessing the moment she trusts herself and her body enough to let go and let her instinct take over.
It means seeing the light in her eyes when she reaches down during pushing and feels the soft, slippery velvet of her baby’s head for the first time.
Being a doula means watching a man face his fear that he could lose the woman he loves and the child he hasn’t met in a process he doesn’t fully understand, but remain present and supportive and loving.
It means driving home, watching the sun rise over the sea, with the image of the new family you left tucked up in their babymoon-bed still in your mind.
It means respecting the fact that you have been invited to be present at the most intimate moment – the birth of a family.
Being a doula is not a job. It is a way of life.
It is to trust birth and women and Nature, and to want to be part of that journey every day.
It is to respect the innate wisdom of birth and the mystery of life.
Being a doula is the ultimate privilege