A Day in the Doula Life

   I am a day late in writing and posting a blog this week. If I were more organized that might not be the case, but my attention was elsewhere over the weekend. For the last few days I have been witnessing the power of a mama bringing her baby earth-side!

   Signing up for the doula training program I was a part of was a moment of realizing a years-long dream of mine. But I had always imagined it as some far off goal that I would maybe have time for once my kids were older and more independent. The Universe had other plans and not only was I able to quickly complete my training, I started working with clients right away. And they just kept coming! It was exhilarating and scary and so much fun! But from the very beginning my biggest question for myself and any other working doulas with children has been... how was I going to make this work??

   Well now I have been "making it work" for a little while and other doulas are asking me the same thing. "What does this look like in action? How does it all work?"

   Rather than pretending I have all of the answers, because I certainly don't, I thought that I'd do what I was always looking for from others~ show you a little bit of what my day(s) look like when I'm attending a birth.

A very pregnant me supports a birthing warrior

A very pregnant me supports a birthing warrior

Saturday... here we go!

I had been on call for about a week- already on high alert and staying close to home. My doula bag was packed a week ago and sitting, ready to go by my door. I started to pay attention to things like how much gas was in my car, not wanting to let it drop too low because stopping to get gas was not something I wanted to have to do if I got "the call".

Friday night, the clients sent me a text to let me know that she was experiencing some signs of labor. These things take time, so all of us agreed to meet at our planned meeting time on Saturday to touch base and solidify plans for their birth. We continued on with our night, but I did sleep with one eye open that night, wondering if labor would progress quickly.

I talked to my husband, and we made plans about how we would go about the weekend if I needed to leave suddenly. Having these conversations has been so essential!! We touch base about what our weekend plans were, what meals I was planning to make over the weekend, etc. so that we feel completely in sync. Then I start emailing and letting others know that I might need to cancel plans, and I look for someone to take over my yoga class if I need it.

Saturday morning I met with the parents and everyone was doing great. I went home and made sure my house was in order and enjoyed my family. That night they called me to let me know that contractions were picking up and finding a rhythm. I went to bed early and laid out clothes next to my doula bag.

Sunday... the real deal

Sunday morning rolled around and I had barely slept because the mama's contractions were getting quite close together throughout the night. I was sure I'd get called any moment, but the call didn't come until that morning around 5:30am. Things had progressed quite a bit, and they decided to go to the hospital. We agreed that I would meet them there if she got admitted. I ate breakfast and touched base with my husband again. I wrote notes to my kids, but they were awake by the time I left so I gave them big squeezy hugs and made my way to the hospital.

In my down time I begged every yoga teacher I knew to teach my prenatal yoga class that morning, but nobody was available. I had to make the call to cancel the class, which is something I try to avoid at all costs! (side note: if you think you might want to teach prenatal yoga, do it! there aren't enough of us.) I also called my babysitters and let them know that I might need them Monday.

I spent most of the first part of the day at the hospital, but was able to return home to make Christmas goodies with my kids and rest. I returned to the hospital later in the day and we labored together as things picked up.

When I returned home to rest that night while laboring Mama rested, there were notes on my door from my husband and kids~ little love notes and encouragement. How could we do this job without our partner's support?? All I know is that i wouldn't want to try. That gave me a boost, and my husband was still awake so I talked to him a little bit about what was happening at the hospital and he helped me process and create a game plan for how I could best support them in this last leg of labor. I ate, took a shower, checked in with the laboring parents, set up a babysitter for the next day to arrive before my husband had to leave for work, and went to bed.

Monday... happy birthday baby!

Obviously this birth was pretty ideal because it happened over the weekend and my husband was able to be home with the kids. Yay! But Monday rolled around and I had to make sure I stayed organized so that I could get everyone's needs met. I homeschool my kids, which has it's advantages when it comes from working from home- I don't have to worry about school pick up and drop off. There isn't any homework drama at the end of the day. Basically our days can mold to fit whatever is going on with me and my schedule. But that makes it tricky too, for obvious reasons... I can't drop them off at school and just know that they are being watched and cared for! I have to arrange for someone to have them and take them to any dance classes or appointments they might have. Thankfully my mom is usually available, and I have a list of other options in case she is not.

My mom picked up the kids Monday morning, and I was back with the laboring parents for the last part of their journey. At this point everyone was winding down and getting tired. I knew I'd need to bring in fresh energy because we weren't done yet! So I made a quick coffee stop on my way to meet them, and brought some card games in my purse. I also mentally planned in my head to pick up dinner on the way home if things went late.

Baby was born around 1pm and I stayed for a little while before gathering my things and leaving the family to get to know their new little person. First stop was food for me, then picking up my kids, and then home for a shower and an hour on the couch with a book. I made oatmeal for dinner to keep things easy, and planned to take it easy the next day. That next day is when I would do things like clean out and re-organize my doula bag. Do gentle yoga and a few loads of laundry. But mostly take it easy, sip on mushrooms all day, meditate and work with some reiki to ground my energy and reset.

For the kids I won't worry about school too much after a birth. I let them play, we read books together and they have a lot of outside time to give me some quiet space. Sometimes I even call a friend and set up a playdate so that they can get out of the house for a few hours and I can nap.

If I have a placenta this would be a great time to slowly enjoy the process of creating prints and encapsulating the magnificent organ for Mama, but this time the hospital kept it for a few days before they will release it to me.

And that's that!

What I have found as I navigate this new role for myself as a mom, wife and homeschooler is that the best way to make it all work is to simply dive in and make it work. You figure it out as you go, discovering what your families most urgent needs are and who in your circle is going to be the best support.

I've also learned that this is a group effort! I would never be able to fully be there for these families the way I am now without the constant help and support of my husband, friends and family who are all so quick to hold space for me while I hold space for others. Not only do they make sure the basic most obvious needs are met such as food and childcare, but they also listen to me when I need to process a birth and let me take the time I need to fill my tank when I'm on empty. They know what I need because I have told them. My husband knows that the most important household chore for my mental well-being is an empty sink. I hate doing dishes when I'm tired! And my mom knows that when I pick up my kids I'm not in the mood to stay and chat. My kids are always fed and ready to go when I pick them up. Trusted friends listen to me talk about a birth without judgements or invasive questions~ knowing I won't share intimate details and not asking for them in respect for privacy and sanctity. I've learned to ask for what I need and accept help when it is offered. And because of all of this I am able to keep going without feeling any bit of burnt out or fatigued.

Specifically, what I needed for this past weekend was the support of my husband, my mother, and easy but filling meals readily available. I made sure I had water and essential oils with me at all times and carried breath mints and chalpstick in my pockets. A group of doulas I trust to bounce off ideas and ask questions to. A lot of deep breathes. Trust in a higher power. And affirmations that I repeated in my head and spoke out loud with Mom and Dad throughout the days we were together.

That's my day in the life! I'd love to hear about what you do to keep yourself balanced and organized while teaching yoga or working in the birth world. Comment below and share your wisdom!