My first experience as a doula truly exceeded my expectations. I would not say that it was an easy journey: more than 30 hours of labor, a lot of them done in a minuscule triage room as there was no private room available, a cascade of medical interventions with its share of side effects.
However, after spending 24 hours by their side, I truly hope that it is not how my clients will remember the birth of their baby. From the minute that I set foot in their home to the moment that I kissed them goodbye at the hospital, I couldn't stop admiring the connection, respect and affection that followed them in each “chapter” of this emotional and physical adventure. In difficult times, when important decisions had to be taken or in situations when most people would collapsed under the pressure, they stayed strong and united as a couple.
So what did I accomplish during those hours without much sleep and caffeine (long story short, the entire island of Montreal could not drink tap water during 72 hours and the hospital cafeteria decided to completely stopped brewing coffee)?
I went with them for a wonderful walk to speed things up a bit, I made a multitude of cold water compresses to refresh her, I massaged back her while she was in the tub, I offered them guidance, I made them smile, I got information from the hospital staff, I hugged her, I helped them settle in their hospital room, I changed her bed linen so very often, I applied hot compresses (so happy I had my electric kettle), I helped her stay mobile, I changed their mind, I covered her with warm blankets, I offered them water and food, I called the nurse when the monitor was beeping, I reminded them that they were doing an awesome job, I held one of her legs while she was pushing and counted 3x10 seconds during each contraction (no comment here as I was only following the nurse's orders), I looked her in the eyes, I was right next to her as I felt panic setting in, I helped bring calmness in their actions, I did not talk that much, I kept things at a slow rhythm, I respected their need for intimacy, I held the dad's shoulders' as he cut the umbilical cord, I knew when to step back, I took a few pictures, I cried as the baby's head got visible, (I also looked closely at the way stitchings were done – without passing out - and at the way doctor evaluates the placenta – without passing out)...but mostly I loved them!
I think that by becoming a doula, I realized that I might have to consistently go through something that could be compared to a very epĥemeral love story! To quit whatever you are doing, to focus all your attention to the well-being of two people, to take care of yourself in order to be fully there for them when they need you the most, to...it is difficult to describe, but I deeply felt that each and every single action that I made for them was filled with genuine love.
The downside at being a doula other than the horrible hospital food is that, as you pack your bag, congratulate the parents for the gazillion time, tenderly gaze at this brand new creature, you have this very strange feeling in your stomach. Maybe a bit like if you were dealing with a breakup!
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Littless Hobo (Le Vagabond) theme song...
There's a voice that keeps on calling me
Down the road, that's where I'll always be.
Every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can't stay for long, just turn around and I'm gone again!
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Next lovestory: a due date for June 18th