By Doula Jen
Meet my first official non-training, real deal doula baby. She’s now 4½! When I see her here, so big and beautiful, I remember very clearly holding her as I walked through her parents’ kitchen, bouncing and “shushing.” She taught me how to use a Moby Wrap! They were kind of new at the time.
I’m reminded of how terrified I was, truly—late at night, in my own bed—thinking about the courage required for a job as a doula. It’s not that I felt incompetent. I was properly trained and ready. It’s just that the gig leaves very little room for error. Sure, I could burn some morning muffins (would never happen) and Mom would laugh it off…but baby care? Being alone with the baby? I was trusted with the center of Mom’s world, her reason for living. No room for error.
When I see this little girl in updates that her mother shares with me, I take just the smallest amount of credit for who she is and who she will become. That I fed the mother, listened to her, and assisted with breastfeeding helped establish the foundation for the happy child I see today. Mom and Dad did most of the work, of course, but I’m honored to be a part of the story.
Yes, a postpartum doula has her share of menial tasks. She folds another family’s laundry, even wipes her share of poopy butts. She takes out the trash, washes the bottles. But what she is willing to risk in order to help a family is quite extraordinary. Her heart must be open and vulnerable, her mind must be focused. She must be soft and fun and breezy, yet safe. An expert and a friend. And though all of these incredible things are expected of her, she must be humble as all get out—humble enough to face those diapers…with a smile.
All of our WBC doulas have strong feelings about watching “their babies” grow. We’re not there everyday…but we were there in the beginning. Believe me when I say that to see a family in their home just after a new baby is born is to see in to their soul.
I remember walking with this now grown girl through the kitchen, while her mama and big brother took much needed naps. I remember baking cakes and organizing cabinets, long talks and many tears. I remember feeling so useful, so appreciated. I remember feeling amazed at the power of a cup of tea and a smile, hot quesadillas and fresh salad. I remember seeing so clearly what this mama needed. Slowly, that clarity helped me overcome the fear.
To all of our old families, know that your doulas still love you and think of you. To our new and future families, understand and appreciate the courage it takes to take on this job and—without hesitation—accept our care. Because we do love to care for you.