We finally talked with the singing doula yesterday, and she was great. We learned a lot in our conversation with her, and she gave us a good deal to think about. She seemed to have lovely energy, and while she has only attended two births (she’s still working on becoming certified), she seemed quite competent. What we hadn’t realized is that she could not act as an advocate for us, which is something we had sort of hoped for. Instead, when it came time to make decisions about interventions, she would suggest that we take time to discuss , and she would give us advice based on what she knew or what she could find out on the phone. Essentially, she would remind us of what we wanted but wouldn’t do much beyond that (for this part of her role, anyway).
Because my wife’s fear has been that she would have to do battle with the medical professionals, I think we had hoped that we would have a buffer between her and medical pros. J had to be both of her parents’ advocates as they were dying, and she encountered some really horrific experiences with doctors and nurses who just wouldn’t listen to her regarding her parents needs, their reactions to medications, and more (despite the fact that she was their primary caregiver). Quite understandably, she feels this need to go back into protector mode when in medical settings, and she was beginning to fear that our birth would be one long battle between with her facing off alone against nurses and doctors.
We talked about this for a long time yesterday evening, and I think she has finally realized that this is a rather different experience. Sure, she can be as bulldog-ish as she needs to be if it comes down to it (and I can’t speak for myself), but ultimately, we’ve got to go into this expecting the best from those in the medical profession. Thus far, when we have projected positivity and confidence, even to our intervention-happy OB, people tend to relax and trust us. So we’re working on continuing this practice, and the more we do, the better this experience is going to be. We both trust this.
But let me get back to the doula. I’m sure it would be great to have someone there at the birth to recommend different positions, to massage me as needed, and so on, but as I lay awake at 5:00am this morning, I began to think about how many people were going to be in the room: J, my mom, our midwife, nurses–and then a doula too? I became more and more tense as I pictured people hovering and instructing. I mean, there are only two chairs in the room! Where would the third person go? I was anticipating performance anxiety, and I started to realize that this was getting further away from what I really wanted: as personal and intimate a birth setting as possible (given that it’s a hospital). In those down times when no nurses or midwives or doctors are present, I want my wife and my mom there and no one else. I don’t necessarily want an extra stranger in the room. I’m a private person, and I started to realize that the presence of a person I’ll only meet once or twice before the birth wasn’t going to be the answer to our worries. So today, I let the singing doula know that we wouldn’t need her services. It was a tough decision to make, but it was necessary.
What is wonderful is that this has led J and I through some really important conversations–conversations about what roles she and my mom will be able to play, conversations about our attitudes toward hospitals and doctors, and conversations about the strengths we have. The two of us have done so much research and have spent so much time learning about this process. We’ve learned so many tools in our birth class, and we practice them at home. We’re feeling like we can do this, and we’re feeling like we need to do this together, helped along by the wisdom and experience of my mom and some experienced medical staff. Suddenly, this feels more like our birth, like a project we can and will tackle together, whatever the universe or the medical professionals throw at us, and somehow this is more empowering than I realized it could be.