By Jen Wittes
Here’s a little insight into the friendships of doulas…
You may think that a doula would make a wonderful friend, the best friend. I’m sure that’s partially true. However, doulas also need a lot from their friends and loved ones. Because it is our job to support, provide care, and shoulder burdens, our tank is often somewhat empty when it comes to our own to do list, energy, and relationships. Not that our friends and loved ones would notice, however, because the true nature of a doula is to give and give and give until she can’t possible give any more. And then to give a little bit more than that.
My friend Kate (a birth doula) and I often use the word doula as a verb. As in: Thanks for doulaing me through that. I need you to doula me for one minute. Would you stop doulaing and relax?
Doulas do and do and do. It’s hard to shut off that deeply embedded personality trait. Especially when it comes to interactions with our own colleagues. We often ask one another: Have you gone to bed yet? Do you have some good food in your belly? How about a pedicure? (Basically the kinds of things we nag our clients about).
To be held by a loved one in a quick and meaningful hug often brings a doula to tears, as she puts out so much of the same in terms of physical and emotional support…continuously. For a true caregiver, receiving the care can be a shock to the system, while also fortifying and necessary.
I hear it often said that “they should make a doula for doulas.” Because a doula is always a new mother, perpetually postpartum, emotionally engaged, and as raw and open as a fresh wound. At the same time completely composed. But that’s just who we are and that’s why we’re good at what we do. That’s why they don’t really make a doula for doulas, but why we find ourselves drawn to others in our field. We doula the crap out of each other. That is…when we’re not talking obsessively about boobs and perinea.