An hour or so after one of my clients gave birth, she looked at me and asked, “What is your favorite part about being a doula?”
Before I answer, I will tell you what is not my favorite part.
Some people think I’m a doula because I adore babies and want to squish their widdle cheeks. And they imagine I get to hold them all the time. As if I chose my profession to get a newborn fix.
If you knew me before I was a doula, you would laugh. I was the person at the office party that stoutly refused to hold the baby du jour. Even as a high-demand teen babysitter, I took my little sister along to change the diapers. When I found myself pregnant, I was horrified by how little I knew about babies and how to handle them.
No, I did not become a doula because of babies.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love babies (now). I can swaddle them like a Moe’s burrito or wrap them to their mama using 15 feet of fabric in 30 seconds flat. I know the 5 s’s. I have a three-point lesson on just about any baby subject. Ask Emily who called today because her 10 month old is biting while nursing.
But these babies aren’t mine. You won’t see many pictures of me holding my client’s babies. I won’t refuse but I will not ask. I don’t view newborns as individuals yet. They are a couple–mama and baby. Attached as firmly as if the umbilical cord was still intact. If I do find myself holding a baby on the day of his birth, I’m extremely anxious to reunite baby with mama.
As I looked as this woman with her dreamy post-birth smile, I could answer without hesitation:
My favorite part about being a doula is seeing a woman in her strength and power give birth. In this single act, she shows courage, joy, sacrifice, faith, resolve, exhilaration, vulnerability, generosity, and above all, love. It is such an honor to be invited to witness and support women on such a journey. That, my friends, is a fix.
I had to laugh when I looked at this picture from a birth. I was leaving and someone asked to take my picture. What am I holding? A baby? Nope.
Yep, I’m much more likely to be holding a placenta than a baby.