I was chatting with a fellow doula when I was new into my doula career about how to prepare for everything that can happen during a birth. She said "You know, the more I do this, the more I realize I don't really know anything." We laughed. There is a large part of this that is true, you can read all the books, go to all the workshops, talk and listen to all the experts and you still have no idea what is going to happen in any particular birth.
I'm not making a good point in selling the idea of a doula, am I? Let me explain. So you're getting ready for that big yearly conference and you're supposed to present the project you have been working on for the last four months. You prepare, you practice your speech for your spouse, you rewrite your notes on different note-cards just in case, you have the right amount of jokes and anecdotes to make it seem casual yet professional, you even buy a new shirt for the occasion. You are set, confident and sure that the CEO is going to offer you a promotion. And then you get there, the podium is practically right on top of the front row, the projector doesn't work, and you grabbed the original set of note-cards, not the ones with the best and most recent edits to your presentation. Crap. Yet you proceed on because you are a professional, you have enough of this in your memory, albiet a bit shaken at first, you get back on your feet and do a decent job of presenting your information. No promotion, but the CEO does shake your hand and offers a few words of "Job well done."
Being a doula is our job. We are prepared and we have the tools and the experience to be there through it all. But ultimately the baby is the Captain of this journey and we have yet to find the technology to communicate with them while in the womb. All we have are guesses and scientific studies and knowledge of what has worked in the past. The podium may be two feet from the front seat and the projector may be busted, but we will stand there and communicate with those staring at us because that is what we came here to do. But the last birth we were at there was no podium, the projector wouldn't shut off and the audience was much more talkative than anticipated. Yet, we use the tools we have to do the best job we can. Each birth. Each time.
Every birth is different. I think that is common knowledge. Especially for anyone that has gone through it more than once. Epidural and cesarean at the first birth and home VBAC (Vaginal birth after cesarean. They exist, I promise.) the second. I tend to tell second time parents, that your first birth, as wonderful as it was, reread the story then put the book on the shelf. This next birth isn't just another chapter, it's a whole other book. It's a new baby, new parents (you're a different person than you were when you gave birth the first time), maybe a new venue and/or care provider, it really is a whole new story. You and baby are still the co-authors but the story is as different as Stephen King and Danielle Steel.
As Different as Snowflakes. Each birth is beautiful, each birth is unique. Each is a story like no other.
Sarah: Birth doula, wife, mother, coffee and wine drinker, lover of beer, books and tattoos.