As a powerful contraction finished washing over her like a wave, she looked at me with tired eyes and asked "WHY would anyone want to do this (doulaing) for a living?" I laughed inwardly and told her I would tell her later and I got into position to give counter pressure during the next wave. She soon forgot about her question as she continued to embrace her contractions and before long was holding her beautiful wet, pink bundle in her arms. At our postpartum visit we all walked through their labor story, and her husband reminded her of how funny it was that she thought to ask me why anyone would want to be a doula. They were both curious for the answer and in the moment I gave them answers that are so commonly heard, largely selfless reasons like I love helping people, birth is so incredible, its amazing watching families be born...... Later I got to thinking about some of the less glamorous, real reasons I love being a doula, because being selfless can only carry you so far-I mean the pay is not that great, the work can be very physically demanding (hello massaging for hours, standing for long periods, staying awake for longer than I though possible), the hours are often inconvenient and sometimes I have to miss one of my kids birthday parties, soccer games or school events, or skip a girls night out or leave early from an activity that's really fun. When I'm missing something fun I definitively need to remind myself of these selfish reasons, so here they are.....
Doulaing helps me be a better runner, or least run longer and more often.
A lot of things about running for me is related to being a doula. I go running to meditate and process births and refuel for my next childbirth class or birth. I get to practice my doula skills on myself to get through some hard, rough miles; distraction, breath, focus. I use mantras to keep from giving up; take one mile at a time, you can do this, you are awesome, you are beautiful, you can do it, you are doing it! I draw on the energy and power of women before me that have shown strength during labor to get me through a run by thinking of that person and thinking if she could power through a 40 hour labor I can get through 26.2 miles. Also going on a training run after being up all night with a laboring couple really helps me run in any future bad conditions.
I get my baby fix
I love being around babies and soaking up their sweetness but then I get to give them back! I get to enjoy all their cuteness, sweetness, cuddles and love but don't have to lose sleep, change diapers or pay for their college fund. I'm like an aunt who gets the rewards without the work.
Yes, the hours are crazy, I don't always know when a baby is coming, but I can schedule prenatal and postpartum appointments around family life and vacations. I can work from home and fit work into my life much more than a 9-5 job. Also I can work my butt off and then take a much needed vacation without having to get the okay from anyone but me.
I meet incredibly cool people that I never would have met in my previous life. As a doula I meet a diversity of people from all walks of life and learn something from each and every one of them. I've worked with people that are rich, poor and somewhere in between, republicans, libertarians, socialists, and democrats, jewish, athiest, a variety of christians, mormons, muslims and hindu's, teachers, potters, contruction workers, yoga teachers, scientists, nurses, accupunctutists, musicians, professors, artists, social workers, park service employees, musical instrument craftsmen, fire fighters, students, professors, geologists, biologists, foresters, economists, brewers, farmers, lawyers, barristas, car salesmen, physical therapists, writers, realtors, and even other doulas!
I'm building community
Everywhere I go I see mamas, daddies and babies that have been in my classes or I have been to their birth. Seeing all the growing families around town I feel a part of the community like I never felt before. The best part is when I see families that have met in my classes hanging out together-Yes! I helped bring some amazing families together.
I'm intrigued by medical/biology stuff
As a former wildlife biologist of course I love biology but I also really like medical stuff. I'm in awe watching a baby be born most of all but I also am fascinated by stitches, manual versions or helping a client go through a surgery and peeking over the drape to see everything. Being a doula is better than going back to school because I'm learning every single dang day.