Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Traumatic Markers

Birth memories can contain traumatic memories to some families.  So a certain date can carry a traumatic marker in the family's thinking.

When you hear a date like September llth - does it leave you with a smile or a sigh?  The same can be true when a family is anticipating labor.

Whether the date will carry the memory of losing a favorite aunt - a mother - or even tragically a child, the family may be very concerned that labor and birth will fall on that date.  One family years ago worried about an entire month. Or the date one spouse discovered a terrible secret, etc.  There can be so many reasons a certain date leaves a pain in your heart.

What can be done - many times we can't change the date the birth begins, but we can change how we look at it.  Could we rewrite the feeling we have about that date - loss of a favorite aunt can be now replaced with the birth of a dear child.  The child doesn't "replace" that person, but the feeling about the date can be changed.  It takes focus and effort but how you perceive that date can be changed. It may also take time for the pain to soften.

But in anticipating the birth of a child, try not to focus too much on the date that baby "should" or "should not" arrive but rather be excited to see what date the baby picks! And you'll have a date with a great memory and feeling.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Waiting Game - Part Two

I know that 9 months can seem to fly by until the last week or so - then each day seems to drag waiting for that first signal of labor.  Not only is the expectant couple in anticipation but so are their family and friends, workmates and neighbors.  Everyone it seems needs to check in and see if there are any signs of labor.

But the waiting game I was thinking about today is in the life of a doula.  It starts with that first phone call or e-mail or text that says "today might be the day".  If it is not an urgent message, then the doula has time to figure out how to rearrange her day - is there mail to be sent - messages to be returned - appointments to be rescheduled - backup to be alerted - laundry to finish - etc, etc.

It may seem that this waiting time can be very productive - but in fact - it is usually not time well spent. Sometimes it is much harder to be by a phone waiting for the signal to head out - than to be sitting in a labor room.  Why?  Because when you are at home - you really don't have a sense as to how strong the contractions are, how the family are handling them, if they are in the hospital already - what is the medical team presenting to them?  You don't know if you'll have time to make it to the store - keep an appointment - or take a nap.

Being on alert can be exhausting.  Have you seen runners in a race at the starting block - in that tense starting pose - waiting to hear the starting gun go off?  Sometimes that is how a doula can feel - when will I be needed?  How long will I be needed?  Will things suddenly change before I get there?  What is happening now - when it has been several hours since you've had an update. Are there suggestions I can make over the phone - or reminders of signals to watch out for that labor is progressing?

The hardest job of a doula - is being on call - but not in the midst of the labor.  However, I will say that ask any doula if they would like to have another job?  And they will answer quickly - NO.  We love our job - the waiting game is just a way for doulas to develop patience, which is needed for birth.  Thanks for listening - now it's back to waiting for that phone call to head out.....