A phone call at 4am. “I think my water just broke.”
A text just before midnight. “Is it okay if I am bleeding, a lot?”
A voicemail that you have to check just before walking into your friend’s wedding. “I need you to come, right now!”
Three false alarms in as many nights, with a momma who just needs reassurance.
This is the life of a doula. And we wouldn’t change a thing!
After having many of our own children, and attending the births of family and friends (including each other’s), we felt that we needed to make it official. In 2012, both Amanda Whatley and Ally Barr trained through Childbirth International and became card-carrying members of the doula club. In a way, it seemed a natural progression of where we were in our lives, you know, older women helping younger women through these stages in their life.
Becoming a doula was easy, the reports and papers, attending childbirth classes, and meeting with others who have walked this road. We’re not sure that anyone could have prepared us for the real thing. Imagine getting a phone call at three in the afternoon with a request for your time. Not knowing what to expect, you kiss your husband and children, and you don’t come back for the next fifty hours. You also have bronchitis, which is no longer contagious, by the way. Your family misses you, you are exhausted beyond anything you have ever experienced, and you are hungry because that granola bar you ate two days ago was really not all that filling. Now imagine a second time momma, who has been told that her body cannot birth a baby naturally. She has been told that a vaginal birth will probably kill her and the baby, and yet, you stay with her, holding her hand, and breathing her breath. You are present and get to capture the first photographs when she delivers a healthy son, completely natural. You see the confidence in her eyes as she comes to understand that she is wonderfully, fearfully, and awesomely made to birth her babies. You watch her husband view her in a whole different way, with love and respect for what she has done. All the cares and concerns that you had about your own life melt away, as you rejoice with those who rejoice. And yes, we have been at the births that require mourning as well.
It takes a calling, for sure, and the doula burn out rate is higher than most other professions. But for us, it is worth every bit!
In the next few months, Amanda and Ally will be sharing their own personal birth stories on this blog, to show you the changes we have made in our own birthing choices, to show you we are not perfect and have not had “perfect” births, and to show you why and how we were called to this amazing profession!