As doulas, we like to guarantee that we will be with our clients as soon as they need us for as long as they need us. This can be tricky when you are a not only a doula but also a mother of young children. Arranging childcare is particularly troublesome. What happens when your spouse has to go to work, your mother in law is unavailable and your babysitter has got the flu? I got a call from a client believing she was in early labour and that was my situation. I scrambled around for numbers of all the babysitters I knew (when really I should have been napping). I couldn't find anyone to take them. My client called back and told me it was a "false alarm". Thank goodness for that because I had 8 hours to go before my spouse got home from work.
There was also a time when I vomited twice the night before and got a call at 8:00am the next morning. She was cramping and feeling sick and had lost her mucus plug. Uh oh. I knew I could have the flu, I also knew I could have just ate something that didn't sit well. Not knowing if it was contagious or not I decided I was not entering a room with a labouring woman or a newborn until it had been 24 hours since the last time I felt sick. I told them the situation and asked if they'd be willing to have another doula. They agreed, though really hoped I could make it. I called around and found another doula who was willing to be on-call for the next 12 hours. We arranged how much of the birth-fee she would receive, should this client need her services that day. It was just something I ate and the labour didn't start until the next morning, whew.
I found that the most stressful part of my job was the 1/2 hour I had to get ready to go to the birth, a time where I should be centering myself, not running around like a chicken with her head cut-off. Then, after I arranged childcare for the next 24 hours, the question became what do I do if the labour is longer than 24 hrs? Will my spouse be able to find a sitter?
I needed a partner.
There are amazing doulas in my area. They all have specialties, registered massage therapists, hypnobirth educators, expansive knowledge of natural remedies. My specialty is breastfeeding support, many of my clients told me that is why the hired me, (and my stunning personality of course ;). So it was important for me to have a partner with breastfeeding counseling education and experience, should I not be able to make a birth. It was also imperative that the doula I worked with be willing to volunteer for some births, I offer my services for free to women under the age of 20. Enter Emma, my sister's friend who just moved to the area. She contacted me on facebook and we got together. I found we had similar philosophies and she had been a Le Leche League leader, so she had a lot of breastfeeding counseling experience. We worked together briefly then I took some time off for personal reasons. Now I'm back and ready to take on births.
I cannot tell you how much of a relief it is knowing that no matter what (other than a horrific snow storm blocking the roads) my clients will be well supported during their birth. My partner inspires me to get out there and advertise, she also gives me someone to de-brief with after a birth. She gives me inspiration and ideas for improving my skills and classes. I just hope that I am able to do the same for her.