Doula on Vacation
Doula on vacation
So for the past fortnight Sallyann and I have found ourselves in the very unusual situation of being “off call” (well kind of!) Our final June client birthed a little earlier than expected, and our next clients aren’t due for a couple more weeks.
So what have we done with that gift of two unexpected and wonderfully appreciated weeks? Well, we have caught up with old clients, been out to interviews, ran our usual antenatal classes, pregnancy yoga and baby massage groups and spent some time reflecting on the last year of births.
But most of the time has been spent revelling in the subtle pleasures of normalising home and family life.
Much as I adore my role as a teacher and doula – the 24/7 pressure it brings can weigh heavily upon the family – this past fortnight has been so different.
My ex mother in law came to stay over for a night – and I didn’t have to welcome her in with a “hello it’s wonderful to see you – but just to let you know I may get a call out tonight”.
My daughter visited us from University and I was able to plan an entire day with her when she was due to get her results from this years exams. Her diligence in study was rewarded with good results and we were able to celebrate together – no worries about staying sober “just in case” – crack open the bubbly!
My sons enjoyed their sports day – and I was able to go along – no excuses – no “if’s and buts” – just “Yes, I will definitely be there for you!”. I was even able to offer to take home another child whose mum couldn’t get out of work – I definitely owed her this favour many times over in return for the numerous times she has collected my children with just 10 minutes notice because I was at a birth.
I was able to go to a Take That concert and leave my phone in my bag – not have it set to vibrate stuck down my bra (yes really – that is the only guaranteed way to be aware of a call in a concert!) No peculiar shaped boobs for me under my T-Shirt – I’m sure Gary Barlow was very impressed?!?!
My wonderful parents haven’t been inundated with phone calls / messages asking them to send me their diaries for the next two weeks so that I can arrange cover at a moments notice. As grandparents they live as much “on the edge” with their organisation as I do – all in order to be able to pick up my life for me when I am not available.
And probably most importantly – my husband and I have been able to crawl into bed at the end of a long day – knowing that we will wake up next to each other the following day. Now that is a really basic assumption we all make daily – but not when you are married to a doula that could quietly disappear during the night – and not return for a day or two – no contact – no updates.
The list could go on… and on….. and on….. The dog that enjoyed her drive to the Malvern Hills for a 3 hour saunter – much of it out of phone signal. The teenage son that could go to a friends overnight knowing that I would be able to collect him in the morning as requested. The friends that know I won’t cancel our planned girly night at last minute………
So why do I do this job that takes so much from my family – that means I am never a constant or reliable source and that I will ultimately put my clients needs ahead of theirs? Well because ultimately I recognise that I am a little selfish. I do it because I love my job. I love to be with couples in the birth room. I love watching their journey as they go through the transition from “couple” to “family”. I love offering them the emotional and physical support that will carry them both through labour. I love helping them to find the strength to birth their baby in the circumstances that they choose.
Most of all – I LOVE going to bed after a birth – and being able to think “today I made a difference to someone – today I helped make someones life a little better/easier/brighter/more promising”.
A couple of years ago my daughter sat at the dinner table ( aged18) and said “Yes mum, your job can be a pain in the arse, and yes, sometimes it means we have to go without – but – we are all so proud of everything you do – we know that you need to do it – and we know it makes you whole”.
So when I sit back and reflect I think I am thankful for the most amazing job – the most incredible doula partner who also lives her life in the same way so that we can ensure support to our couples at a moments notice – and the most understanding family and friends that value and respect the role that I play ……
Sometimes I feel like the luckiest woman on earth!!