I recently had a family reach out to me looking for a doula in the Bakersfield area. I knew I was not available for when they were due, so I offered the names of three other doulas, with reasoning as to why I thought they would be good matches. I also shared the resources area of my website, where I try to keep a running list of doulas in the greater Bakersfield and Visalia areas. I kept in contact with this family for a while, to ensure they had their doula needs met.
A couple weeks ago, after coming away from a prenatal with a current client, I noticed I had a Facebook message, and a text message. I thought, wow, someone has been looking for me! I opened them both to see it was one of these three local doulas, thanking me for the referral, as this family hired her. I was tickled with surprise and appreciation for this small act! We are all busy, and I am sure we often think, that was nice of her, I should let her know; the reality is, we don't always follow-through. I know I will remember this doula faster the next time I have a referral, and I also know I will rush to thank the next person who offers me a similar favor.
When working towards my certifying births for DONA in Chico, CA, there was one experience where the doctor left before I could ask for an evaluation. Hoping for the best, I wrote her a note and included an evaluation form and a SASE. Honestly, this doctor wasn't my favorite...but she didn't have to be my favorite to provide good care to my client. I thought of authentic statements I could share to show I valued her place in this birth.
"Dear Dr. Doe,
I had the privilege of helping Jane and John Person during the birth of their baby, Baby. Jane said nothing but good things about you during our prenatal contact -- it is clear to me she felt you two truly connected. I appreciated the way you cared for Jane throughout the pregnancy and birth, helping her feel confident about the experience...."
The next paragraph explained the certifying process, a bit about DONA, and that an evaluation from her would be helpful. I closed with: "Thank you for taking the time to do this for me."
Guess what? She sent it back, and I was able to use it for my certification.
Once at my pediatrician's office, I was telling my friend (nurse manager of the clinic), how much I appreciated the woman who worked at the registration counter. Every time we came in, she knew our names. She always asked how we were doing. She even remembered things we had talked about before. She felt like a friend, and I noticed this was not just how she treated us -- this was how she treated everyone in this clinic, which had a high rate of patient appointments where many families had Medicaid. She never seemed annoyed, she never acted like people were an inconvenience. As I was sharing this with my friend, she handed me a paper and pencil and asked me to write a note to the hospital which oversaw this clinic, sharing my feelings with them. I thought nothing of it -- it took less than 5 minutes of my day, and then honestly, I forgot about it.
The next time we visited the clinic, this woman came rushing toward me, arms open wide, and she thanked me heartily for what I shared. She said it meant so much to her, to be acknowledged and praised for the work she does daily.
Expectant families often ask if they can do anything for their nurses, not only to show appreciation for the long, hard hours nurses work, but also gain a happy member of their birth team. I was impressed when a client showed me the basket of goodies that would accompany her and her husband to the hospital. Knowing nurses often get gifts of yummy (but not always healthy) food, she wanted to be different. Her basket was thoughtfully packed full of hand lotions and sanitizer, Propel packets, pocket-size tissue packs, gum, Chapstick, Jolly Ranchers, and tiny chocolates. This woman had a fast labor, and she didn't go through as many nurses as she expected, but every nurse that walked in -- even her doctor and I -- were encouraged to pull things from the basket we wanted. "Now I don't want to take any of that home! I brought it all for you!" she told everyone, happily. The nurses were tickled at this sweet gesture. Her doctor, at first reluctant, did finally concede, "I do always need Chapstick."
Some might say this is unnecessary, that nurses are being paid at their jobs, so why are "gifts" necessary? One L&D nurse I know shared, "I love the thank you cards. I am shy about gifts and food. It's very nice though, but not necessary." A second one told me: "I absolutely love when patients bring in something special for the unit. We are there for joyous occasions and heartbreaking occasions. When patients acknowledge our work it makes us all feel good about the job we are doing. It lets us know that we made a difference during a very important time in their lives."
Isn't that what a true thank you is about? Acknowledging someone's good work? Isn't that something we all want? To know someone noticed, someone cared, it mattered to someone what we did? It's not a hard thing to do, and it can mean so much. I dare you to care enough to say "Thank You." Two little words.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)