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Doula Diaries: A week in the life...(birthdays, birthdays, everywhere)

Christine Ghali, Certified Doula

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 9 year old sunshine daughter; and Ty, my 26-month old whirlwind of a toddler. And then there's me! I've been doulaing since 2011 and have attended more than 70 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.

Here I sit, on Sunday afternoon, lazing about as Mike has the boys out fishing and Kaia plays the day away with her BFF. The weeks are just flying by, especially as it is "birthday season" in our family. We have 5 birthdays in our immediate family between the first week in October and the first week in December, plus extended family birthdays, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. That means non-stop preparations for this Mama. I intentionally keep things as easy as I can, while still making the FUN happen. We all need more fun. It's good for our immune systems :) It also means that today I am intentionally taking a rest, taking a break from all the FUN and letting my body and mind slow down and rest. It is greatly needed!

Where does work fit into this time of year? Yeah. It's hard. But, I love what I do and am continually learning how to prioritize and honor the truly important pieces in this life. Sometimes, it's listening to a pregnant mama-to-be on the phone, or fitting in an in-person hands-on Spinning Babies lesson; sometimes it's dropping everything to attend a birth; sometimes it's writing a blog because it feels good to my soul. We all need to do more things that feel good to our soul.

Monday, 10/17/16: At the end of the day full of caring for Ty, picking up Kaia, helping with homework, plus making dinner, keeping Jace on track with homework, and getting everyone fed, clean and cleaning up the kitchen, I sat down to a luxurious hour long phone call with some dear clients. It was our 37-week doula prenatal phone call where we discussed their birth preferences in detail. It might sound strange, but calls like these energize me. I know I'm influencing their path in a positive way, helping them to find their own truths and leading them to their own birth decisions.

Tuesday 10/18/16: Much like yesterday, at the end of a long day of mothering I sat down to an hour long phone call at 8p with my next Distance Doula Care client. She lives out of state and hired me to help her through her pregnancy, lend an ear and suggestions, and lead her to her own path for this, her 7th pregnancy. Tonight is our 37-week distance doula prenatal, discussing her birth preferences. We really dug deep into her life's relationship issues and how those relationships can affect how we prepare for our birth. Are we used to being the Caretaker? How might that influence our labor? Are we used to taking "control"? How might that influence our labor? And, what do we need to counter-balance those archetypal habits we've created in ourselves? If you've found a doula who can help guide you to your answers, you have struck gold.

Wednesday 10/19/16: I wake up to some exciting news: A client is in labor! I mother my way through the day and check in periodically with my client. She is patiently awaiting contractions to pick up after starting labor with her water breaking. I'm on-call and at the ready. I know I'm likely in for an all-nighter as the day wears on. I try to rest but...three kids...and it's Mike's late night. I call my mom for backup, and she spends the afternoon with us and watches the kids while I make dinner, which is really a lifesaver. She instructs me to lay down after dinner and rest (thank you, Mom!), because she knows it's going to be a long night for me, too. She's really one of those angels that I am so lucky to have been blessed with as a mother.

Thursday 10/20/16: Today is one of our family birthdays that I mentioned above! It's my dad's birthday! He's one of my favorite people ever, and everyone he meets tends to feel the same way. Bonus: It's baby Brody's Birth Day! She was born in the early morning hours at 5:47 am. Yes, we were up all night laboring and doula'ing. Lots of double-hip squeezes, lots of Breath Awareness, encouragement, visualizations and even talking down from a "birth ledge" or two (if you've labored, you know what I mean). And it was totally worth it to see the love in mom and dad's eyes when they met their baby and to feel the birth energy in the room and in the world! Labor is never easy, but thankfully this one was straightforward after weeks of work getting baby in her best position for a smoother labor. My clients are very into music, much like my family, which made it a treat to listen to Bob Marley throughout their entire labor. Every year on my dad's birthday, I will remember baby Brody's birth. Congrats to the new mom and dad!

Friday 10/21/16: I sleep.

By evening I'm recovered, and I join my family for our newest tradition, Friday night Jam Night. I'm on percussion, Jace is on lead guitar, Mike takes rhythm guitar and lead vocals, even Ty jams with his harmonica! Everyone else takes vocals and we sing and play. Sometimes, magic happens. We're all in the flow and it feels good and sounds great and we are having FUN. If you're ready for some cuteness overload, Ty was helping with our mic check; a shy version of "Elmo's Song."

Saturday 10/22/16: Highlights: An adult Halloween party (thanks, Dorit!) and a kids party for Jace and Kaia to attend (thanks, Braden!).

Sunday 10/23/16: Highlights: Family celebration for Kaia and Dad's birthdays plus Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary and a day at the Punta Gorda International Airshow. It's a gorgeous day and I am soaking in my time with all of my kids in the same spot. The 10 year spread is awesome, but usually results in way different schedules for each of my kids. I pepper my day with a phone call or two to my new parents to check on breastfeeding, healing and sleep. All appears to be "newborn normal" as I call it. Not really normal, but what you could expect in life with a 2 day old. I do put her in touch with a lactation consultant in my networking circle, to answer some specific questions regarding breastfeeding and jaundice. My family doesn't mind the calls and texts, it's all part of this #doulalife. I'll check in with a post-partum visit within the next few days.

Monday 10/24/16: Kaia's 9th birthday! Early morning celebration all the way through evening dinner and presents. Her day was extra special thanks to a happy birthday message on her mirror with dry erase markers and balloons, and streamers taped outside her bedroom door, plus a birthday muffin with candle for breakfast. I've been known to say, "Mama makes it happen!" Seriously, thank goodness for all the moms out there who create all of this FUN. That was one big surprise for me in my own motherhood journey: having kids really awakened my own sense of wonder, creating tradition, and giving so much time and thought to others (which has resulted in a LOT more work than it took to be on the receiving end). It's hard to fathom what being a Mom will evolve to mean when you're parenting a tiny newborn. It has taken on a new, more in-depth meaning for me as a mom of older children. And, thank goodness for all the women, friends and colleagues in my life who are my sounding boards and support. You know who you are! Don't you? I'll remind you :)

Gosh, it feels like a lot was packed into that week, and we still have Halloween ahead of us! I do my best to *not* be too busy and I try to create a simple life with moments of fun; but again, it's birthday season along with holiday season. Kaia's birthday party was just yesterday with her friends and I sat down earlier today to author Jace's birthday invitations for just 3 weeks from now. Pretty cool that baby Brody was born into the mix! Plus I'm on-call for another birth, due early November. Birthdays, birthdays, everywhere!

Another week in the life of a doula with kids! Subscribe to my site to stay in the loop, here.


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