Friday, January 12, 2007

Client update

I have a client due in two weeks. This client is special. It was she and her partner who gave me the nickname "doulicia." I am holding lots of hope in my heart that this birth can be a healing birth after their negative first experience.

I have been declining clients left and right for the remainder of winter and early spring. With the change in my schedule (from being at work four days a week to five), it has gotten very hard to do doula care without our family schedule being disrupted for weeks on end. Even one birth includes a minimum of two prenatals and two postnatal visits. These are all evening or weekend appointments. We don't have that many open nights anyway: the older boy's soccer games, the spouse's basketball tickets, my book group, informal knitting meetings, board and committee meetings for the Center. Adding one more thing to the mix gets to be too much.

I've left myself open for June, however, and already have interviewed with one couple due then and will be meeting with another next week. More evening commitments...

A practical analysis of my life right now would say I should give up the doula work. Indeed, when I initially decided to join the Center's board of directors, I said it would replace my doula work. I could still help pregnant women, just in a less direct way. That didn't last long. I can't stop the inquiries from coming. And when someone with a doula heart is presented with the opportunity to work with a pregnant woman, it's nearly impossible to say no.

Believe me, the February-May hiatus has taken A LOT of will power. I had to decline a women who interviewed me for her first birth several years ago. Even though she hired someone else at that time, we've stayed in touch and grown close. When she called with the news she was expecting again (after a miscarriage last year) and wanted me for her doula, my heart screamed YES! She didn't make it any easier, saying how disappointed she was.

It makes me think about alternative ways to structure my practice. For women who primarily want the birth assistance (multips, repeat clients) without the pre- and post-natal care, could I just charge an hourly fee for the birth itself? It doesn't fit with the wholistic model of doula care I've learned. Those women are ultimately better served by a different doula who can give them the "full package." But I know I'd do more births if the commitment were less.



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