I don't talk a lot about the doula-side of my life on this here corner of cyberspace. For one thing, I don't think it's necessary. There are LOTS of doula blogs, based on activism of some sort. Me? I'm not such an activist. I'm just a normal gal who tries to help out, one family at a time.
Also, in comparison to the majority of my life, doula-ism doesn't take up that much space. I take very few clients so most of my day-to-day is just spent in mommyland.
However, on occasion the two inner twine such that doula=life. Even just for a bit.
And I had one of those weekends.
It started on Saturday, as an induction. It ended Monday morning.
The beautiful thing was that it was the weekend. So my kiddos had a literal party with their daddy. The party happened because Derek said to them, "Mommy's gonna be gone, and we're gonna party!!!"
Henry heard the word "party" and figured that "a party" would be taking place. So what happened? Cake happened.
So the boys (even Oliver) did quite well in my 26 hour absence. They played and watched movies and baked a cake.
And while that was happening, I was invited to be a member of another family.
Being doula means being asked to participate in some of the most intimate, private moments of a couple's life. It is an honor and one I don't take lightly at all. But in this case! Well, all the grandparents were there much of the time. We laughed and labored and talked and ate. Their family circle swelled to include me in all the hugs, kisses, joy and even the pain, especially the pain.
And OH! How we ate. Even my client, in all her inducted-labor-glory ate her way through labor. Fish tacos at 9am are not my idea of a good breakfast, but whatever. (And the darn girl is a pixie, teeny as can be too...) When I remarked at the regularity of food-offerings from the grandmas, they both laughed and declared in unison, "We're Jewish! It's what we do!" Someone was constantly placing nuts, raisins, grapes, bagels, and at 3am, pizza into my hands. It was, without the question, the best-fed I've ever been at a birth.
At one point, many hours in, I was missing my own family terribly. I texted Derek, and he happily agreed to bring my boys to me. I knew I wouldn't be home that night to put them to bed, and I was sad. I know that's how it goes as a doula, but nonetheless, I wanted to kiss them goodnight. Selfish, it was because I knew Oliver would scream all the way there and back. But they came. AND Derek brought me food too. (Seriously, well-fed!)
I slipped away, telling my client that I would be back quickly. She was fine and comfortable and surrounded by doting family, so I knew I had a bit.
Twenty minutes I was able to be with my family, and Henry slept through most of it. I fed the baby and kissed my boys. It was the shortest time I've ever spent in one day with them. But I was grateful for the time, because I was in for a long night.
And indeed, it was a long night. It was filled with ups and downs, pain and rest, quiet, loud, tears, laughter, joy, frustration, exams, darkness, light. You name it, it happened. At 2am, there was a lull. We had sent "the dads" home (as we had taken to referring to the grandpas) and I tucked everyone else into bed (or chairs as it were) and slipped away. I pumped, so as not to explode, and found a quiet corner in the "Nourishment" room, which is mostly where they keep the ice-chips machine. I huddled in a corner and sent Derek a text. It just said, "Hope you're sleeping, don't think I'll be home by morning."
I needed to regroup. This was a strange labor, and I had a sense of foreboding. There was so much love, so much support and care for my client, that I don't think anyone else noticed. But I was starting to think something wasn't right. I needed to take a minute. My client's nurse came in, and we talked for a moment. Then I felt like I had better get back.
I watched over everyone for a while, until activity started up again. By 3am, we knew baby had gone from doing perfectly, to not so much. Contractions were going away, and baby wasn't even handling the little, not so great ones. The doctor was called. And we all watched.
By 4:30, the choice had been made. I was invited to attend the birth, in lieu of the daddy. He simply knew he wouldn't remain conscious if asked to attend a surgery. 5:08 the baby came and went to the NICU. At the most recent report, last night Baby was improving. Thank goodness!
I stayed long enough to ensure that my client was again being encircled about by family, her every whim provided for, and then headed home to see my boys.
I was so wiped! I could barely keep my eyes open, but Derek had a full day at work, so I turned on the movies and tried to stay as awake as possible. I did well until Spencer flooded the kitchen. Every towel in the house was used to clean up THAT mess.
Derek came home at 9pm (early for a Monday) and took a very awake Oliver so I could sleep. It was a bliss.
And this morning, as I have rested and feel better, I'm looking back and am just amazed! What a birth! It was truly one of the most special, amazing experiences I have ever had as a doula. Even though a c-section was the end result, the entire experience was real, natural, and felt almost ancient. At one point, the grandmas, myself, and client's husband were surrounding her, encircling her, all of us with hands on her, somewhere, and it blew me away! It was as it should be.
A couple of hours after I left I received a text message from my client's husband that simply read, "We love you." And I felt the exact same way. Even while I was away from my own family, I had been completely adopted into a new, beautiful family.
It was awesome.