Doula? No Thanks.
I need to tell you the truth.
This doula didn't have a doula.
While that was 22 years ago (when I had no idea what a doula was), I've given it a lot of thought and I've been pretty convinced that I'm just not the type to have a doula. I don't like to ask for help and the idea of someone 'serving' me just doesn't sit well with me.
Having a doula has just never seemed like my thing.
And then I got sick really sick.
Allow me to forewarn you.
I was really sick and this blog is going to mention bodily functions.
I was sicker than I recall ever being before.
I remember the exact moment I knew I needed a sick doula. And it's a moment I'm not very proud of.
I was pacing the front porch, rocking back and forth to try and focus on something other than my stomach.
I remember saying "I can't do this anymore."
An unnamed member of my family said the dreaded words:
"You'll be fine."
Those words are so not who I am, but I felt completely out of control of my body and my emotions took over. I hurt my family member who was doing their best.
My mind went to the many labors I've been to and the words that come flying out when there's just no energy for anything else. I knew what I needed.
This was the first time that I understood why the presence of a doula is so incredibly important when everything else feels completely out of control. Had such a thing as a 'sick doula' been available, I would have jumped on the opportunity in a heartbeat. And cost wouldn't have mattered at all. (Don't get me wrong. I have an incredibly supportive and helpful husband who tried his very best, but he needed to take care of himself, too.)
I needed my constant. I needed the person who supported me with compassion and empathy and tenderness.
I needed the Puking, Diarrhea, I-can't-move, Doula!
Her job description over those 24 hours would have been:
*A cold rag on my forehead... alternated with a blanket warm from the dryer. And she would know exactly when to alternate them without me having to try to get the words out. Because fevers suck. (And she wouldn't have been afraid to sit in the bathroom with me while disgusting things were happening... because she's completely ok with all that comes with being sick.)
*Bringing me fluids to keep me at least semi-hydrated. And when the fluid needed to be ice cold (really, really ice cold) she wouldn't be bothered when I sent her back for another ice cube. And she would remind me to take another sip.
*Reminding my family that the smell of food in the house was a bad idea. (Very, very bad idea.)
*Encouraging me to sit in the bathtub or shower to gain some feeling of normalcy. Oh, and she would bring me a fresh change of pajamas. And maybe some slippers.
*Sitting with me as I attempted to swallow 1 tablespoon of Pepto over a 15 minute period.
*Fixing my sheets- because sometimes that just feels like way too much work.
*Bringing me the thermometer when I wake up at 3am (for the 4th time since 10pm) and then walking the house with me when I can't go back to sleep.
*Helping me get down the stairs when my legs were shaking too badly to walk in a safe manner.
A doula is so much more than emotional support or just a "labor coach." Doulas are prepared for all the things that come with labor and they're ready to step in to support you. Plus, they anticipate what you'll be needing/wanting next and try to have that next step ready for you.