Doula Diaries: Being On-Call
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 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.
I can't think of a better picture for today than that of my all-smiles first time parents, Amanda and John. Baby's gender was a surprise and...it's a girl! She is yet to be named and that's perfect. She was welcomed into the world this week on the morning of Wednesday, May 4th. I've now heard for the third time this year that I'm underpaid, (it was a long labor), which I'm taking as a compliment. We all worked our tails off! This was doula baby #62 for me, nestled into my daily life at home. I call it, simply, #thedoulalife. This week, with Amanda past her due date and me deeply on-call, let me share with you my week, at a glance!
Sunday, May 1: Today's our family day. Sundays are strictly no-work days, only work around the house. Mike and Jace are helping Grandma and Grandpa re-mulch their mulch beds today while I'm home with Ty, Kaia and a friend. It's my day to enjoy the kids, and catch up on laundry. We play outside, make a gluten-free apple pie, and enjoy the sunshine. In the evening, after a long day of playing and working, I receive a text around 9:45 from Amanda that her water might have broken and so we chat and make a loose plan. I expect to be woken up in a few short hours!
Monday, May 2: I check my phone all through the night, expecting to receive a text and am shocked when the alarm goes off at 6:15 instead. That's on-call work for ya! Up and at 'em to nurse Ty, get the kids off to school and head out the door for a dentist appointment. I check in with Amanda and she's getting ready to go to her provider's office to see if it really was her bag of waters that broke. I tell her, if she thinks it was her waters then I trust her. The uncertainty for her is that her contractions aren't picking up and the leak seems to have stopped. I suggest waiting a bit and using the breastpump at home to encourage labor and tell her some other options for encouraging contractions at home.
While Ty naps I email my upcoming class participants to give them the details they'll need for Birthing From Within class #1 on Thursday. I also text another couple who is scheduled to take a 2.5 hour private class with me tonight at 6:00p that I might not be able to teach tonight because I might have a mom in early labor and ask for grace in playing things by ear. That's on-call work for ya!
Later, John calls and tells me they were advised to go straight to the hospital to begin an induction and we talk through their many options. We talk throughout the afternoon and I offer some additional Spinning Babies exercises to try to encourage baby into a better position and get those contractions to take off. We agree that they feel comfortable right now with me teaching class and they'd like some support after class is over.
6:00-8:30 I teach my private class in my home while Mike takes the kids for dinner and gets all 3 to bed. Hats off, Daddy. Love you.
After class I eat a quick bite that Mike brought home for me and then it's off to the hospital around 9:00p. I hang out with Amanda and John who have begun a conservative induction, I teach them lots of positional changes they can try, and I really encourage them to REST tonight before tomorrow's intensity kicks in. I come home to sleep around midnight.
Tuesday, May 3: As soon as I wake up, I head back to the hospital. Mike's got the kids covered and is taking the day off of work. It's time to ramp up the induction efforts and get serious about the breastpump before resorting to medical support. There is a beautiful birth story to be inserted here, but it's not mine, it doesn't belong to me. Just know I am at the hospital from 9a until after midnight when I go home to rest, and baby isn't born yet. Amanda is comfortably resting when I leave and they agree that they feel comfortable with my taking a break after 16 hours on the clock. I'm in bed well after 1am. Kids are peacefully asleep, husband is peacefully asleep, all is well. It's hard to have missed a day of their lives, but, it's what I sacrifice to life the doula life.
Wednesday, May 4: More birthy details would go here, but the bottom line is that beautiful baby girl was born at 6:54a! I snapped that picture above, showered them with love and a few practical tips and slipped out the door as Amanda's family was loving on their newest family member. When I get home, I'm exhausted but I've got Ty with me for the day, naturally, and life moves on. Mike goes back to work (he's taken a day and a half off of his job so I could do mine), I pick up the kids from school, make my weekly pick-up of vegan soup that a friend makes for me, and help the kids with homework. I carry Ty on my back while I make dinner for the kids. My body is exhausted. It's Mike's late day at work, when he sees private clients for couples counseling, and after I get the kids to sleep I have some quiet moments to write my birth notes and update my files, answer emails and schedule appointments. I should really be sleeping. Mike gets home after 9:30 and we have a few moments to catch up. It's lovely.
Thursday, May 5: Today's the first day of my May childbirth education series! It's invigorating to meet 5 new couples and witness their shift in perspective over the next 4 weeks. It's also a little bit of self-care day, after an exhausting (also invigorating, it's weird) beginning of the week. I bring Ty with me to the gym, get an awesome workout, and come home to a babysitter for an hour and a half while I shower uninterrupted (yayyyy!) and catch up on myself. It