Sister, Mother, Grandma, Doula
Mature doula, well-seasoned doula, senior doula, experienced doula, skilled doula, …….After 22 years of caring for women and their families, I have been referenced by all of these monikers. Way back in the day, and I mean wayyyy back, when I first began attending births in my early 30s, I would sometimes be asked by hospital staff if I was the laboring moms’ sister. Now I am asked if I am her mother! “And you must be gramma” said one young nurse to me recently.
The first time I was asked that, I was taken aback, and slightly insulted. I mean, I work out at the gym regularly, and I never leave the house without a splash of lipstick. I commute by bike and always wear plenty of sunscreen…… SPF 50 of course! I don’t look that old do I? Don’t I still have that youthful glow? Surely your grandmotherly assumption is just a result of my being up all night supporting my client and the horrible fluorescent lights accentuating my, um, flaws? But the more I ponder it, the more comfortable I become with the thought of being considered a gramma doula. A sort of badge of honor.
The journey of an experienced doula
In the past two decades, I have witnessed hundreds and hundreds of babies slide into this world. I have attended countless first birthday parties, and I have watched these babies grow into toddlers, teens and young adults! I have had the privilege of remaining close with many of the families I have supported over the years, and have been invited back to support the birth of baby number two, three and even four! During this time, I myself have matured, grown, and yes, aged. Each birth, each woman, each relationship has been a new lesson. I’ve built on my skills, learned from my mistakes (yes, I sometimes mess up!) and learned to rely strongly on my intuition. I like to think that I have become…..dare I say it, wise.
This process of gaining wisdom from experience is not one that can be rushed. It has its own rhythm and, much like labor, needs to unfold in its own way, in its own time. It cannot and should not be forced. As I sit back and reflect on my last 20 years of service to families in Vancouver, I can’t help but be excited and curious about what the next 10 years have in store for me!