Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Decommissioning My Doula Bag

I have been dancing with leaving the doula profession for a while now. There was a period of nearly a year when I didn't take clients, then I was back in for several. Then off again for six months, then pulled back in. Looking at this blog, I see that pattern repeated. Like with a cat at the door, all this coming and going becomes frustrating and confusing.

The reasons I keep coming back are the same ones that led me to this work in the first place. Birthing women are amazing. In a world where so many things are disappointing, overwhelming, discouraging, it renews the spirit to work with pregnant and laboring women. Every one of my clients has been smart, strong, inspirational. Even when the circumstances of the birth were not what they had hoped for, these women shone. They triumphed. Who can resist being around that?

In the past few years many of my clients were women and families whom I'd served before. That, too, was a pull. It is such a to have witnessed a woman's prior labor(s) when heading into a new one. It is a blessing to already have a bond with the family. I have yet to say "no" to a repeat client.

And yet. Life has become more complicated. I don't know how. My children are older and more independent. But I find myself busier with them after school than I used to be. In part there is more shuttling -- to piano lessons, soccer practices, friends' houses, etc. There is also more emotional need. I am more exhausted helping my adolescent navigate friendships and self-discovery than I was helping him learn to read or ride his bike.

More and more there are no "good" nights to be called away to a birth, no weekends I can afford to miss in my family's growth.

Dabbling in doula work doesn't work either. This spring I had two clients, my first in more than 6 months. With each of them there were things I forgot (e.g. offering to drop off postpartum herbal bath mixes) that used to be reflexive. Hospital policies had changed and I didn't know. I felt out of shape.

Hard though it is, I need to embrace these many signs that it is time. I am not saying I'll never return to being a doula. But for now I need to stop.

I am so grateful to each woman who shared her birth with me, and to each birth for what it taught me about life, mystery, knowledge and faith.

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5 Comments:

Blogger reeciebird said...

Sounds like a difficult, good decision. If you decommision your blog as well, know you've been a valuable voice in my own birth journeys. Thank you for your writing.

12:32 AM  
Blogger doulicia said...

I'm quite likely to. I don't like stale blogs. So thanks for your sweet comments. Best wishes for the rest of your journey!

7:58 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

As a fellow doula I have also taken a break from working as doula over the last 13 yrs..my longest stretch away from it was 5 yrs...I'm finding it more difficult this time around marketing for client as I moved from Florida to Colorado and live in a small mountain town. Life changes on a dime and I can say having kids getting older does take you away from the birth journey. Just know that you can always dust off your doula bag once your kids are in college. Pregnant women will still need you.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous steph scott said...

I just found this lovely blog and am sad to see it go already! But I understand how life can interfere with doula-ing.

I'm a doula in austin (www.getbabied.com). I started a doula collective with some friends who, like me, are moms who can't always leave for a birth at a moment's notice. We're still a new business and are still finding our way - but so far it's working really well for the doulas and the clients.

We share all our clients and work on a rotational on-call schedule. Clients call one number which rings all of our cell phones, and one of us is always on call 24/7 to answer questons and attend births. But each doula only has to be on call for her scheduled shift.

We share our client notes and documentation in google docs and each doula updates the notes about any contact with a client. So if someone goes into labor we can easily access all of the records for that client.

I know it might sound crazy to work as a doula this way. Other doulas often think this seems impersonal because there isn't just one doula getting to know the client intimately. For this reason it's not a good fit for some doulas.

But clients are loving it. When we started the business we didn't know how it would be received - but we are getting tons of business. We havegroup meetings where all the doulas attend and get to know the clients, and the clients get to know each other. We have group prenatal appointments and classes too. Because we're pooling our resources we're able to offer more services at a cheaper price than we could working individually. So we're getting clients who didn't think they could afford a doula till they found us.

Sorry this is so long - I just wanted to explain how it works. If you're wanting to continue doulaing but work at a reasonable schedule, this could be a way to go. Good luck and thanks for this inspiring blog! :)

Steph

10:14 AM  
Blogger moviesta said...

I am sad to see you go in the blogging world... will you keep blogging?

4:41 PM  

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