Friday, June 29, 2007

My Doula, My friend?

Oh my god, I have been so out of all birth loops. When I get stressed, I get crazy. But when I turn it off, i am really off. I scheduled the latter half of June and the first half of July off so I could go on vacation (what a concept!) and visit with my brother and his family when they roll into town.

It's nice to have time off to think about the last year, the births I've seen, how I might do things differently in the future. I don't know how many women and men I interviewed with exactly this year, but I know I only did not get hired twice. Both times it was the exact same situation: immediate connection between mom and me. Similar personality, sense of humor, approach to life. Feeling that we were meant to be friends.

Women do not want to hire their best friend to be their doula. The want someone to fill the space of the person they are not, to calm them when they need calming and to rev them up when the energy feels like it is dwindling. Why would they hire someone just like themselves? It makes me think that if I sense that happening in an interview in the future, i will need to navigate the conversation to a more warm, professional place. At least I will be aware of it, I suppose.

In a move in stark opposition to natural birth and all it encompasses, I will be in Las Vegas next week, sinning up a storm:)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Sherpa

I know a lot about a lot of things, but mountain climbing is not one of them. So when a client and her husband revealed to me that they were secretly refering to me as "the sherpa," I had no idea that it was a really great compliment! Of course, he was not saying it to be nice, he just couldn't remember the word doula:)

I can only assume (read:hope) I am not the only one who thought a sherpa was a fleece-lined coat or blanket. Then I realize it's a mountain guide, and I think, how freaking perfect! I always compare labor to running the marathon, because I have done that so I understand the challenge, both physical and mental. But I have never climbed the Himalayas, thank God, so I really didn't make the immediate connection. If you have never climbed a mountain, it'd be a great idea to have a guide to lead you through the process. Heck, it'd probably be a necessity. The sherpas help you pace yourself, drink enough water, keep you focused, remind you to keep your body in the right positions and keep your mind positive.

That is exactly what we as doulas do. We can't do the work of labor for you, but we can help make it easier and more positive. Doulas guide women (and their partners) through a challenging yet ultimately rewarding time. The best compliment I can get is not that someone feels they couldn't have done it without me, but that they wouldn't have wanted to.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Blahs and the Aahs

I haven't written anything lately because I haven't known what to say. As much as I love what I do, overall I have been feeling pretty jaded lately. I was on the phone with my mother the other day ranting about the state of birth in our country, how it is nearly impossible to have a normal birth with all the routine interventions, but mostly in the culture of fear and weakness surrounding childbirth in the United States. When I realized I was ranting like a lunatic and that instead of listening to me she was thinking about what to make for dinner, it occurred to me that I am in desperate need of a vacation.

I define myself largely by what I do, and if I don't feel good about that, I don't feel good about me.

My clients rely on me to be a positive force. My job is to protect their birth space from all negative energy, to make them feel like they are doing the best job they can with the tools they were given and the hand they were dealt. It's hard to do that when you are feeling shitty. Luckily I scheduled myself off for the month of June so I can get a little time to reassess.

By the way, in the midst of all this funk, I saw something really beautiful last week. This mom had an ordeal of a labor that ended in surgery. She had been awake forever and was feeling pretty poor overall. But when they put that baby in her arms, it was a miracle in the making. Everything else faded away and what was left was two new people, in love at first sight, being perfect together. In all the births I have seen, this was the most immediate, instinctual, natural mothering. Her birth may not have been perfect but her connection with her baby definitely was. Welcome to your world, D.