This past week took me by surprise. We arrived home late Sunday and I got the call that my client was being induced. She was over 42 weeks pregnant and I really thought that I was going to miss the birth. I awoke before sunrise and drove the 50 miles to be with her and her fiance. When I walked into the room, she looked up at me and sighed relief and we embraced for a long time. She was exhausted from no sleep and lots of pain and was confused about how to deal with the next stage of labour.
The look in her eyes is why I love being a doula. I understand the emotions but am distanced enough from them to see things more clearly. And let’s face it, I’m not the one in pain. Creating a supportive environment filled with love and security for a woman during childbirth is beyond important; I wish every woman had that comfort. In a hospital you can’t help but feel so much is at risk, it’s so clinical and harsh. Staying in the zone, her zone, was our focus and she was incredibly brave and strong.
After 28 hours of labour, 16 of which I was there for, she was nearly ready to start pushing, and I had to make a choice. Husband was on the other end of the phone encouraging me to come home, that it was too late to drive so far and I was in jet-lag hell. I wanted so much to stay, to help with the final birthing and see this new spirit arrive. That is the honey of the job and leaving felt wrong. But then, so did staying. My client and her partner were more than connected and in the zone together. To stay would mean to sleep in their grandparent’s guest room nearby and to take away some of the focus at hand. Attention was beginning to shift to my exhaustion and that felt counter-productive to me. So I left. Left her in great hands, left a room that was harmonized and magical. Left because I physically had to, and the job of doula was complete.
Driving home I had to get it all straight in my head; being sensible and selfless meant leaving but feeling complete meant staying. Birth is pure and the emotions one takes away from a day in that sacred room are simple and absolute. What I walk away with every time is the essence of everything I believe in; love, life, unadulterated joy – being there moments that last a lifetime. Missing their baby arrive, I realized, didn’t change any of that because his mom and dad had what they needed by the time I left. And that is the job. That is why I do what I do. And sometimes if you do the job properly, you don’t get to taste the honey.
I arrived home and collapsed. Husband didn’t know what to make of me at first and I had no desire to share the extraordinary emotions I was feeling. I needed to be quiet and take a shower and have a bit of a cry to try and release all that I had just been a part of. Maybe there’s a reason why being a doula has come back into my life right now; perhaps it’s because I’m coming to the realization that even with Husband’s desires to have another, I’m probably not going to. Or, perhaps I have found a hat to wear that fits very comfortably. Whatever it is, my life is filled with goodness because of it.