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 23-month old whirlwind of a toddler. And then there's me! I've been doulaing since 2011 and have attended more than 65 births to date and have taught over 100 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.
Today the kids and I decided to get out a piece of paper and write down all of the words Ty can say. His 2nd birthday is 3 weeks away (I'll be posting his birth story on his birthday, which was a midwife-attended homebirth, stay tuned for that!). To reiterate, that means he's not even 2 years old yet. As we wrote down his favorite things to say, he rapid-fired more words at us, crazy adjectives like "bright" when we open the curtains; "heavy" when he's lifting a toy bin; and "loud" when he hears the lawnmower. We're up to over 150 words. Is that a lot? I don't know. All I know is that he LOVES to talk, just like his older brother. Kind of ironic given his doula mom and psychologist dad are more of the listening type. Folks, we have another extrovert on our hands!
Which has me thinking about the couples I doula for and with. How does the dynamic of our relationship change whether they are more introverted or extroverted? What if mom is more introverted than dad? Or vice versa? See, the doula-client relationship is more than just a professional relationship. There are many layers. Some mothers I doula for have become dear friends. For some I'm in their lives at just the right time, no more no less, and I'm around for just as long as they need me, and then our relationship peacefully hangs on the balance of time. Just this past week I heard from a dad whom I hadn't had contact with for 5 years. He was in a tough spot, needed some serious advice and mentoring, and felt comfortable calling on me as someone he could trust, at the suggestion of his wife. I was happy and humbled to offer my perspective and mentorship to this dad.
Being a doula carries a certain responsibility to carry another person's most intimate details of their most vulnerable moments and protect those moments and details in the vault of time. What happens when relationships with my doula clients change or even fade completely? Sometimes it's hard; sometimes it's expected; sometimes it's welcomed. I think of my own past midwives for my children's births and the responsibility I put on them to hold my details and moments, and through the gift of time I have lovingly released them from any expectations I unwittingly placed upon them. I needed them in those moments, and they loved me through them, and we share a little secret gift of baby love. Isn't that sweet?
Ty happens to love babies, and I mean really LOVE babies. When I go to the gym to workout, he stays in the kids club and loves rolling the ball to babies, pushing babies in the baby swing, patting the babies' arms, talking to the babies, and repeating "Baby, baby, baby!" He doesn't realize that HE'S still the baby, which makes it doubly cute. The college girls there love him. I play cards with Jace, my 11 year old and we talk about iphones, Donald Trump (you know me better than that, stop), retirement funds, and stock options; speed reading, life hacks, AP classes and America Ninja Warrior records. I marvel at his breadth of knowledge and his ability to converse about intense topics at just 11 years old. And shake my head at my baby who can say things like, "Awww man, Dad!" when daddy changes his favorite song on his Music Together CD. My littlest baby is growing into a extroverted toddler!
I learn from each of the couples I serve. Maybe I lend a listening ear, or maybe I speak words of validation or advice. What do you do when you're presented with an opportunity to connect with someone new? What expectations do you place upon those important people in your life story? What lessons do you learn along the way?
P.S. Stay tuned for the next edition of The Doula Diaries, and if you enjoyed this one, leave me a comment below or on my facebook page!
P.P.S. My Birth Classes page got a fine-tuning! Now you can register for group classes (September) and private classes directly from the registration form on the site. Online classes coming soon!
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