Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Trade-Off

This post, again, is going to have very little to do with writing, but it's one I need to get out of my system.

A lot of you know that as well as being a writer, I'm also a doula (professional childbirth coach). I love being a doula. I haven't attended a birth in over two years. Doulas work all sorts of strange hours so the combination of being a doula and having a husband in law school didn't work very weel. But several months ago, a client who I assisted two years ago (the last birth I attended, actually) asked if I would come back and assist her in her next birth. I was thrilled just to have done a good enough job to be asked again! I knew the timing would be weird and I might have to leave my husband totally in the lurch for a day, but I couldn't resist. Not only was it my first repeat client, but she was going for her second VBAC, which is always a rather precarious situation. (They watch the mom like a hawk and she has much less freedom to do as she pleases for safety reasons, so you often have to be creative.) So I said yes.

She gave birth just after midnight last Saturday.

I've been in kind of a haze ever since.

I love attending births. I had forgotten just how much I love attending births. Not only that, but this was a very gentle, easy birth. The last birth I did with her involved (birth details ahead, you've been warned) almost twenty hours at the hospital with her, 14 hours of pitocin induced labor, and three hours of pushing due to a transverse head. But we did it. in the end she was exhausted and her body had worked harder than it ever had before, but she was able to have her VBAC. This one was different. She still had to be induced about six hours after her water broke and labor didn't start, but labor picked up on a very low level of pitocin and she only labored for about five hours, and much of that was in the tub where labor is much gentler. And her favorite part? Less than fifteen minutes of pushing (and not even a skid mark!). It was a beautiful, gentle, perfect birth. And her second successful VBAC.

I miss this.

I do have one more client (a homebirth, yay!) but after that, my births will again become sporatic and few and far between. Between Harper's plans for me, my own plans, and my husband doing lots of babysitting anyway, I just can't commit to being a doula as often as I would like to.

But this weekend has convinced me of something.

I can't give it up.

It's not my main job. Being an author is my main job. And I am perfectly okay with that.

But there is a trade-off. And that is that I can't do this other job that I love quite as much without straining my family--which is something I'm not willing to do. But if I can do a couple of births a year, I think I will be satisfied.

It's been two years since I attended a birth, but it's almost like addiction. You go back once, and it's like starting all over again.

That's how I'm feeling today.

Thanks for reading.


ETA: Yes, I am still waiting for final approval to post my cover. But the minute . . . the second I have it, I will share! I promise!


Anonymous said...

You must have been at your "last" birth shortly after Nellie's - since she is now 2.5 yrs old. I wish I could have had you again for #2 (although the Doula we had was great as well) AND #3 is due in abt 6 weeks or LESS - and we have yet another Doula lined up! I LOVED having you as my doula and I believe you helped us to have a perfect birth with Nellie and I will never forget it. Thank YOU!!

Elizabeth said...

Have you heard of SigningTime? Well, the star/co-creator was a birth coach for her best friend, and somewhere there was a conversation that went like this: "Rachel, the woman on Signing Time, is going to be my friend's birth coach." "Oh! Are they friends or is she just a really big fan?" To which Rachel commented on her blog, "Sure I'll be your birth coach! As soon as we've been best friends for 20 years!"

I can just see something similar happening after your book comes out. "The author of Wings is going to be my doula!" :)

Unknown said...

Congrats on the gentle birth! I'm glad it all went well for the mom, the baby and you! :)

Anonymous said...

i am so happy for you. i got a little teary just reading about your feelings about your doula experience. yes, it is something that will never get old, even when you do. I believe it is something you can do your whole life, like playing the piano, it doesn't go out of style. Right now just isn't your season. But, you're not dead yet. that season will come.

Carbonneau said...

It is so fun to be at a birth, and even more so to help. I was able to photograph the birth of my friend's third child. I LOVED BEING THERE! and I wished I could be more help and know everything you and Mom know!

Tracy said...

Hi Aprilynne,
Thought that you might be interested in Brooke Taylor's blog this week. She is hosting faery week and giving away a TON of really cool fairy books and other things like wings and such. Anyway, when I saw it I thought of you!
Hope you are having a fabulous week.

Kari Pike said...

Hurrah for the gentle birth! I am so happy for the mom...and you! it is a rush. I've had to turn down a couple of opportunities this fall since Dad is working out of town. I missed the chance to attend my first home birth! But, like you said...I am not willing to sacrifice my family over it. I will get a chance eventually.