I struggle with answering people when they ask me what it is that I do. A doula's job description is not cut and dried. There is no pat answer to give, or list of duties. If they had time and interest to listen, I'd tell them this:
Being a doula is being there. It is sharing coffee on the couch while a mom finally allows herself to grieve a past birthing experience that left her defeated and angry. It is validating her feelings, and hoping with her that this new birth will be empowering and strengthening. It is rejoicing at the news that a baby daughter or son will join the family. It is explaining pros and cons of AROM, delayed cord clamping and circumcision, and then trusting the parents to make their own choices. It is confidence that yes, Mama, you can parent this child. Yes, you can birth this baby. It is urgent phone calls in the middle of family dinners that cause me to frantically motion the kids and husband into the van so I can get to a labouring mom in time. It is my duffel bag, packed weeks ahead, waiting by my bed, by the door, in the van, wherever I go. It is the car window open at 2 am in February, radio blaring to keep me alert on the way to the hospital. It is the silence in the parking lot where I take a minute to sit and pray for health, wisdom and strength. It is double hip squeezes for hours, literally. It is water boiling, for tea, for the hot water bottle, for comfort. It is bendy straws held to dry lips, and reminders to pee. It is discussing the consistency of mucous plugs, and the colour of amniotic fluid. It is fetching coffee for dads, and letting them know that it's okay to be tired. It's okay to rest. I will stay, and you can nap. It's reminding them to stock the freezer ahead of time, to clear the air, the make it right. It is excusing myself during a slow early labour, and sending the couple to their bed to encourage things along. It is translating for a mother, fresh from Quebec, who can't understand the nurse, who can't understand her. It is recording a daughter's entrance into the world so that her father can see her birth from all the way out west. It is catching a midwife's eye and smiling when we both recognize the telltale breath catch grunt when the mother is finally dilated. It is showing a Dad how to hold his wife in a supported squat, and where to press for counter pressure. It is smiling at him while he struggles not to cry as his daughter enters the world. It is goofy grins that you just can't help when the baby finally slips out, covered in vernix and lanugo, and gives it's first lusty cry. It's "Oh my baby oh my baby oh honey oh baby oh I did it I did it I did it I love you Baby I can't oh God thank you!' It is congratulations, and sorries, and laughing and crying, because it is life.
It's what I do.