The best doula ever!

Posted by Wood | Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | , ,

Dutch didn't really make it clear that we were FIRED by our doula. I mean, pretty much. Here's what happened:

Like Dutch said, I met with the doula first. From the beginning he wasn't really into it, but hey, I was the one with a baby in my belly that had to come out somehow, and that meant that I got to call the shots.

I talked to the doula on the phone a couple of times, and then I had her come over one night when Dutch was conveniently working late. And she was great. Really, really great. We had an awesome conversation and she listened to me talk about my pregnancy in the way that I wanted my OB to listen, but had yet to realize just does not happen with OBs (yes, I should have hired a midwife. next time). She asked questions, she offered advice, and she gave me book suggestions. And, to this day, despite the falling out that was to come, I still owe her big time for the book suggestions. She nudged me towards Ina May Gaskin, and for that alone, she rocks.

She showed me her bag of tricks. Her adorable hipster-thrift-store-purchased bag of tricks (oh how I coveted that slightly faded, just garish enough print, and those well-worn leathery handles). Her bag of tricks did include aromatherapy and tennis ball socks, and I was SO INTO IT. Right on, sister, I thought. I sniffed her little bottles, I felt her home-made massage tools, I examined her sticks of honey, and I nodded my head and made approving noises. I concluded that she was exactly what I needed and I told her so. I also warned her that Dutch wasn't completely on board yet, but that I was working on it, and that he just needed time. She understood, she told me to call her.

About a month later my belly had finally grown big enough that Dutch was forced to recognize that I was the shot-caller, and he started to tow the party line on the doula. He said he understood, he said he wanted to be supportive, and he was ready to meet with her. He said he was still afraid that I was trying to replace him, and I assured him that he was ridiculous but encouraged him to talk with her about his feelings. He said he would. And even though Dutch can be a pretty standoff-ish guy, he was pretty cool about the doula at this point. More than cool -- he was open. And as you might have guessed, openness is a rare state for Dutch.

The doula came over, and it was like Dutch said it was. AWKWARD. It was horrible -- an unbelievable, staggering sort of awkward, where you assume that the next thing out of your mouth will finally break the ice, but it never does, and it just gets worse. I was waiting for the doula to sort of take over; I mean, this is what she does, she works with couples, so I guess I expected her to have questions or thoughts or at least lead the discussion. But she stonewalled, and instead we had strange conversations where she was sort of suggesting that we start all over (leave my OB, get a midwife; leave the hospital, go to the birthing center) and we were like, Hell-ooooo? This baby is due in 2 months, and if we got a midwife and went to a birthing center, why would we need you?

But the worst was when Dutch said: "I mean, I just don't think a birth center in the mission is for us." And while he was just being honest, the way he said "mission" conveyed some of the disdain he holds for the mission that he explained in his post. And the doula just sat there in silence and made no response. I don't know if she picked up on his anti-mission-ness and was personally insulted, or if she was just annoyed that we didn't want to do what she thought we should, but either way, I could tell she just wasn't that into us.

She called the next day to break it off. She asked me if I wanted her to suggest another doula, but I told her it was okay. We only had two months to go, so I gave up on my dream of having a doula.

And, having elbowed the doula out of the way, Dutch stepped up to the task and read "The Birth Partner" cover to cover. He prepared his own bag of tricks (including some aromatherapy and tennis balls), and he repeatedly told everyone how he was going to be the best doula ever. Once I tried to explain to him that he was the father and that was way better, but then I gave up because it was just so damn cute to hear him say it.

So the Bug's due date came, my contractions started, and we were all ready. Dutch was an amazing partner -- far better than I would have ever thought my husband, the guy who comforted me during my morning sickness by reminding me that I was the one who wanted to be pregnant, could be. It was because of him that I finally took off the stupid oxygen mask and moved around the room even though I didn't think I could do it. It was because he kept telling me how "fucking tough" I was that I didn't cave in the 17th time the nurse asked me if I was sure that I didn't want an epidural? how about narcotics? a little morphine? And it was because of him that the whole thing went so damn smoothly -- without a hitch, stitch, or regret. I wouldn't have changed a thing. I did have the best doula ever.