Doula Diaries Part 2: A Day in the Life
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 20-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. 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.
Let's take a 24-hour snapshot into a day in my life, shall we? We'll start at 5p, because naturally doulas keep some pretty strange hours. Nothing about my life is 9-5. Thinking about becoming a doula? Read on!
5:00p: My husband works his 2nd job on Wednesday nights, which was tonight. He's a Psychologist and takes private clients one evening a week at 6:00, 7:00 and 8:00p. This usually puts him home at 9:30p. I'm on my own with the kiddos for homework and dinner and bedtime, and that's ok, they're pretty great to be around. Just before dinner, I get a text from a doula client with an update on a prenatal appointment she had with a specialist. She's a little shaken, and I offer her text support, ask my kids to wait just one more minute as I text and then I head to the table for dinner so we can say what we're thankful for, together. Doula clients come first, until dinner time, then it's all eyes on each other.
6:00p: Wrapping up loose ends with a doula-to-be who found me online and has asked for my advice, in between cleaning up Ty's chair and folding the day's laundry. I get inquiries weekly from doulas in training or doula-hopefuls, and I try my best to make space for them and answer their questions, get them started off on the right foot. There is PLENTY to go around!
8:00p: I get Ty into the bath and nurse him down to sleep. I slink away from his room quietly, (SO quietly!!) and check on Jace and Kaia. I find Jace asleep in his bed and Kaia asleep in mine. They put themselves to bed; I missed reading to them! But, I'm really grateful they read their books and fell asleep peacefully. Since all 3 kids are asleep, it's time to clean up the dishes and kitchen, and prepare for their morning performance at school, including costumes and a change of clothes in their backpacks. Let's not forget that tonight is my "work night," i.e. my night with "free time" to catch up on the week's piled up to-dos. I'm not complaining; it's just ironic.
9:00p: Time to update my spreadsheets, document the mileage I've driven for work this week, note any income and expenses, and document any contact I've made with my doula clients this week. I check my business emails and schedule 2 Initial Doula Consultations for this weekend. I brainstorm some blog ideas. I get distracted by Facebook.
9:30p: My next-up doula client and I exchange a number of texts back and forth, including my suggestions for her prodromal labor.
10:30p: My husband arrives after running to the grocery store after his insanely long day of work. I close up my computer; 10:30 is late enough for a workday. It's never done.
12:00 midnight: Ahhhhh-sleep. Asleep!
1:07a: After one hour of sleep...I get a phone call from my doula client...she's in labor! I ask her some basic questions about length of contractions and spacing contractions; I ask if she's notified her midwife. I ask how she is coping through contractions and ask her to rate them on a scale of 1-10. I make sure she's not alone. And then, I'm on my way. I get up, get dressed, throw my hair behind a headband and grab my doula bag. As I brew some coffee, I put her address into Mapquest and make sure I know the route (I've been to her home before, but it's late, or shall we say early). I pack some snacks for myself for the day and I'm on my way by 1:40.
2:10a: I arrive at their home and am fully present as a beautiful homebirth unfolds. I meet mom right where she is and join her quietly, talking her through the hardest moments of her contractions. The midwife arrives, followed by her birth assistant. As active labor gives way to transition, I offer lots of hip-squeezes, verbal affirmations, visualizations to bring the baby down, pain-coping assistance, massage, water, physical position changes; I check in with the birthing father. The minutes pass, the moments linger. Big brother sleeps. I press mom's back, I talk to her baby girl, I reassure her, this beautiful birthing mother. Once in the birthing tub, I can tell that she is starting to sound "pushy" and I reassure her that it's ok to work