Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Ever wonder what it's like to be a doula with a family? I'll tell ya! Welcome to my doula life! My main characters are Mike, my superhero of a husband and father to our three children; Jace, my 11 year old guitar-playing, x-box loving, sharp-witted son; Kaia, my 8 year old sunshine daughter; and Ty, my 21-month old whirlwind of a toddler. And then there's me! I've been doulaing since 2011 and have attended around 60 births to date and have taught over 90 couples in my childbirth classes. This is my full-time gig! With three children and a doula business, private and group childbirth education classes, evening sports and afterschool homework, staying at home as a full-time mom and also creating space for my own health and fitness, there is, as they say, never a dull moment.
Summer, oh sweet summer. We are almost there. Can't wait to have all 3 of my babies home with me for 8 whole weeks! On the agenda is lots of swimming, relaxing, playing games (and running errands, making dinners and hiring babysitters for 2-hour bursts of working on my doula business, to be honest). Only one more school week to go! This past week's doula schedule included a postpartum visit for a new family of four, scheduling a private childbirth education class in August, and also some time for thinking...you know, just mulling over life as it happens.
I want to tell you about a really inspiring couple I'm currently working with and what happened this week. I'll call them Brenda and James. This is their first pregnancy and while they originally planned on a birth center birth, some pregnancy surprises found them facing tough decisions which included not only switching to OB care at a hospital, but switching entire towns for their care to include a team of specialists all the way up in Tampa. Not only this, but they are not certain which OB on the team will deliver their baby and have found themselves facing a whole heck of a lot of uncertainty in a very short period of time.
They made the decision to hire me as their doula quickly and without drama. They signed up for Birthing From Within class quickly and without drama, and when they couldn't attend the group class they quickly decided on a private class and were decisive about the date. When their care switched from a local hospital to a Tampa hospital, they quickly and without drama told me about the change, and changed their care with me from Comprehensive Doula Care to Distance Doula Care. Rock on.
As if this isn't inspiring enough, a conversation with Brenda this week is what made my heart swell with pride. She had been considering the Vitamin K shot for her baby and asked my opinion. As her doula, I pointed her towards some research articles including the popular and recent article at evidencebasedbirth.com. We talked about some considerations such as why Vitamin K is typically given, why some people may opt out, and about the decision making process in general. We talked about finding out what kind of Vitamin K the hospital NICU administers, and that it may be possible to have some influence and control over what brand (different ingredients in different brands) and kind (oral or via injection) is given. Still undecided, Brenda and James banded together in their research and talked to their baby's pediatrician about his recommendations. Then they took those recommendations to the NICU doctors, had an informed discussion about the kind of Vitamin K that is usually given, and made arrangements via their pediatrician's prescription for their preference in brand and ingredients, to be available the day their baby was born. And they did this all in about 4 days' time.
What a great call! I love that Brenda and James surrounded themselves with an amazing team (doula and pediatrician, along with NICU doctors and nurses at their hospital) even in very uncertain circumstances, weren't afraid to use their team's expertise, supported each other through yet another confusing decision, and came out the other side of it feeling empowered and respected. YES. Along with this they had the foresight to seek out those line items on the birth plans that are floating around the internet, such as the Vitamin K option, and instead of just checking a box they sought out their own informed consent including a conversation with multiple doctors. Way to Warrior Up, Brenda! (She admitted that it was a little intimidating to talk to the different doctors about her preferences when, after all, they are the experts...and that is what makes the story swell me with pride. Of course it's intimidating! That's seriously putting yourself out there to vulnerability! But she didn't back away from that feeling, she faced it head on, and made some powerful decisions on behalf of her family, and her baby, with her husband by her side. Nicely done!).
We don't get to decide entirely how our birth unfolds; but we do get to decide how we prepare for it, which includes how and why we make the decisions that we do. And these decisions that are made in late pregnancy and birth carry over into how we make decisions as a new mother and father. I'm proud to be walking alongside this awesome couple as their journey unfolds.
Stay tuned for the next edition of The Doula Diaries, and if you enjoyed this one, leave me a comment below (on PC) or on my facebook page (if on mobile)!
In case you missed them, click below to read my first six Doula Diaries posts (most recent is listed first):
Doula Diaries: My Luminary Doula
Doula Diaries: Being On-Call
Doula Diaries Part III: Thoughts on Pain-Coping
Doula Diaries Part 2: A Day in the Life
Doula Diaries: What Do Doulas Do All Day?