Although Chelsea is in my area, Bakersfield, I "met" her in an online doula group. I love connecting doulas together, so immediately we began talking, and soon after we met. I knew she was busy last week, with some surprise early babies. I asked her to share what she learned as far as meeting the need of her clients and her families -- thus this post was born!
I believe I’m the youngest doula in my area at just 20. I have two young babies of my own and I’m learning to balance work life with mommy life, along with being married and having my own home. This last week has been crazy with two births back to back -- six long days of trying to get my footing and figuring things out. I learned five key facts this week that will help me get through many more times just like this one!
1. Have stable childcare! I’m serious. I wasn't expecting two clients to have babies so early so I still hadn't set up childcare. I was rushing around like a mad woman trying to find people to keep my two while I ran off at odd hours to births. My dad and my best friend ended up taking the blunt force of my lack of planning. Random calls of “Can I drop them off right now?” and having to answer the question of, for how long with, “ I HAVE NO IDEA." So this is definitely of primary importance as a doula and a mom of 2.
2. Remember you need to eat too! We are constantly encouraging moms and dads during births to eat and stay hydrated. Well I forgot that I needed to, too. I got home from day one of births this past week and realized I had eaten a pack of mini donuts and a Dr. Pepper -- and that was it all day! I suggest having small snacks in your bag like granola bars and a bottle of water that can be refilled. How can you care for mom and dad if you, yourself, have no energy whatsoever?
3. This one is super difficult. Balancing sleep/work/ motherhood. I was coming home from nights at the hospital at 3 and 4 am. I would come home to my very lived-in house and shudder, knowing that I needed to do housework. I would go and lay down in my bed and fall asleep doing none of it. My husband, I’m one of those super lucky women by the way, would get up with the kids in the morning allowing me a few extra hours in the bed. I would then get up, still exhausted, to spend time with my kids, not knowing when I would need to rush off again. You have to find a balance between them all. I know its hard, but it's a necessity!
4. I had to learn when enough was enough. I sat in a client's room until 3am while she slept, and I watched her every movement, waiting to get up and walk her through the next contraction. When she was asleep and her meds were working, I was still on that super uncomfortable doctor's stool. I waited and waited until finally, I was okay to head home. I was burning myself out much too quickly. I was tired and hungry and frustrated that I couldn't have done more. You have to learn that it's okay to take care of yourself, too.
5. This one is the closest to home. I was sitting up at the hospital at random intervals for 6 days. I missed my babies. I missed my husband. I missed my puppy and sharing my bed with them all. I got close to crying several times from missing them. But I had to sit back and realize doing what I was doing was beneficial for us as a family. Jumping head first into my work while the timing is right, giving myself the chance to bring in more income helps my family! We plan to have more children, and I know doula work will come and go according to our family life. Right now I can show my babies that moms can do amazing things. Know that if you are doing what's best for you and yours, that not only brings security to your family, but also it offers support to the expecting family -- that helped me when looking at all the hours gone by.
This past week has been crazy for this brand new doula! Two births back to back. Preemie ones at that. I’m exhausted. I’m happy. I’m PROUD. I’m helping change our birth community one birth at a time, and that feels amazing.
Chelsea attended her first birth in February of 2015. She was led to doula work when she realized how little women understood about their bodies and their choices around pregnancy and birth. Motivated to help that change, she is training formally through Birth Arts International, with the ultimate goal of becoming a midwife. Chelsea and her husband have two little ones, and a brand new puppy. You can learn more about her by visiting her Facebook page.
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♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)