I would tell you all the details, except that the Health Information Privacy Act of 1996 prevents me from telling you pretty much anything about the birth other than that I had to go to the hospital at Thursday night and didn't get home until noon Friday. However, a couple of notes:
- I am thanking my lucky stars that I had a change of clothes in my doula bag, 'cause things got a little messy. Everyone's happy and healthy, though...no worries...
- I learned how to take three-minute naps in between mom's contractions. This sounds impressive until I tell you that the mom was also taking naps between contractions (ones that SHE was actually HAVING). I had some really weird dreams...sort of like when you hit the snooze alarm and then continue on with your dream about sheep knitting YOUR fur in retaliation for a lifetime of shearing. Only, it was like that for four hours...
- Napping doesn't make you any less tired. I went to have coffee with a friend that afternoon (still hadn't slept in thirty hours) and was legit hallucinating about how comfy the grass on the corner of 14th and Irving looked and how I was sure that no one would notice if I curled up in that pile of City Paper's next to the metro to just close my eyes for a minute. Looking back on it, I really doubt anyone would have noticed, but it still a pretty cracked-out idea.
- I could be called either to the hospital about a fifteen minute walk from my house or to the free standing birth center in NE DC's Trinidad neighborhood. Women can choose which they prefer to birth at (unless they are high risk, in which case, they are encouraged to birth at the hospital), but will have a birth center midwife either way. All of my births so far have been at the hospital.
- Doula's don't do anything medical. I wasn't joking about not even sharing my lotion. I ask the mother's health care provider before suggesting anything, even as innocuous as giving the mother juice or changing her position in bed. I'm with DONA and we have a pretty strict code of conduct that protects both me and the mom.
- Most doulas take private clients. You would get to meet a client ahead of time (usually a couple of times) and build a relationship with them. I am, on the other hand, an on-call doula. That means that I don't get to meet my clients ahead of time and so have to quickly explain who I am, what a doula is, and convince them that it is a good idea to let a stranger hang out with them while they are in labor.
- Doula is not training to be a midwife. In fact, I have zero desire to be a midwife or a doctor. That's a lot of responsibility, folks. Plus, I like the idea that the only thing a doula is there for is to meet the needs of the mom. Not having to worry about medical stuff means that I don't have to make decisions or pay attention to anyone but her. I get to breath with her, help her with pain reduction, get her and her family the things they need to be comfortable, and do some counseling when it comes to making decisions about procedures (what is she nervous about? Does she need more information? Is something bothering you? If so, who should we ask about that? ).