Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Day in the Life

I'm beginning to wonder what my neighbors think as they see me leaving my house late at night, only to return hours later before the sun comes up. I can only hope that their mind doesn't lead them to the gutter as to what on earth would call a mother of three out of the house after hours. "Are they that hard up for cash?" "What kind of profession demands these odd hours?" Of course the fact that I'm leaving in a mini-van and wearing baggy clothes would hopefully deter their thoughts of me as a "working girl". Of course though, I am a working girl. But the other kind... a doula.
I had the honor to attend and support a couple who are dear friends of ours as they welcomed their first child into the world last night. I am continually amazed and in awe at the wonder of our creation(the human body, spirit, mind) by our Creator Himself, our Father God, as I see a mere mortal bring new life into these tiny hospital rooms. Not to discredit the male species in any way, but man, a WOMAN's body is the benchmark in excellent craftsmanship from THE Creator. The strength, will, stamina, bending-without-breaking quality that I have witnessed during these births by these laboring mothers has left me speechless (in fact I 'm having trouble putting my experiences into words presently).
I got to thinking today about what a "doula" does/is. Of course I can give the scripted answer about how we provide continuous emotional, physical and informational support to the laboring woman and her partner. BUT, there is SO MUCH MORE to it.
I guess you could say the the doula is the "jack of all trades" (or in my case the "jill of all trades!). I thought I would compile a modest list of some of the ways in which I personally have served some of my doula clients. This is not a "brag list" of accomplishments or skills that I have, just a mere description about ways in which a doula can serve (that you probably never knew!):
Here are the "skills" (every time I talk about my "skills", I can't help but think of the movie "Napoleon Dynamite", although as a disclaimer, I do NOT have nun chuck skills!):
  • ability to enter a most-personal setting and yet, not become an "intruder"
  • tying a woman's hair back as she is contracting, at times taking out your own ponytail and giving her your hair band
  • ice cup-filler and spooner
  • holding a cold cloth on a forehead, neck, back or anywhere else that is overheated
  • stabilizing a birthing ball with your legs/knees
  • massaging a neck, back, arm, foot or leg
  • getting face-to-face with a woman and telling her that she is safe, that she is not alone and that she is so strong
  • ability to contort your body to fit in between bed rails, IV poles, monitors and stools in order to be physically close to the woman
  • squeeze a woman's hips with all your might to alleviate back pressure
  • gently suggest position changes to the woman without being irritating or bossy
  • be able to support WHATEVER decision that couple makes about their birth or baby, regardless if it is what YOU have chosen for your family
  • hold food and offer it to your client bite for bite
  • help a woman learn to cradle and nurse her baby and tell her that she will learn the art of breastfeeding
  • take photos of baby, mother and father
  • put your own needs on hold and remain with that couple continuously until the birth of their baby
And so many, many more. I've been on the other side of the fence three times in the last six years and my memories of birth are vivid and real. It is the test of a lifetime, a battle of will and the most sensitive, sacred and soul-rattling moments I've yet to experience. Being a part of that experience as a doula are all those things, to a lesser degree, but nonetheless, an experience that seems to stay with me in many deep ways.


Jackie said... makes me think I might enjoy such a profession...?

Anonymous said...

Your entry brought me to tears........what a priveledge to be an invited participant in the birth of a child, what an honor to use your gifts to minister to these couples and newborns, to be a humble brought to mind Christ washing His disciples feet.
You ROCK girlfriend !!!