She Made a Hell of a Meatloaf…
When asked what I do for a living, sometimes I say I’m a doula and sometimes I describe what a doula is, instead.
This time, I went with the description.
I was moving through New York’s Laguardia airport security line at a snails pace. Shoes off. Belt off. Jewelry off. Laptop out. Everything in bins….
I got through the line, grabbed my bucket of belongings and walked over to a bench to reorganize. Moments later, a gentleman walked over with his things to do the same.
As we were sitting side by side, putting our shoes and belts back on, I couldn’t help from saying, “Here we are, two strangers getting dressed together….” The ice was broken and we began the normal airport chit-chat.
“Are you traveling on business or pleasure?” He asked. After a little back and forth, he said, “what do you do?”.
“I own a business that trains and certifies people to provide physical, educational and emotional support to women during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.”
He said, “Oh, Doulas.”
Now, nothing about this guy said to me that he had any business knowing what a doula was but sure enough, he did! Of course, I asked how he knew.
He said that 20 years ago, in NY, his wife had a doula. I thought, surely I must know this person. I have been a doula in NY myself for nearly 20 years.
I asked the man, “What was your doulas name?” He said, “Hmmm, I don’t remember her name but she made a hell of a meatloaf!”
Now here’s what’s so cool about this.
As a doula when I work with a family, my job is to provide the support that I mentioned above, BUT it is also to build on the strength and foundation of my client and her partner. It is to be present and absent at the same time.
The family is having an experience and while sometimes my role seems clear and direct, my goal is that it is faintly remembered.
I want my clients memories surrounding their labor, birth and postpartum experience to be about them, not me. I want them to feel like they did it and not like they were relying on me.
I help. Don’t get me wrong, the help I provide is valued, appreciated and respected but when I do my job right, 20 years later my client might say “My doula? Yea, the lady with the long black hair and tattoos. She was my doula.”