At dinner the other night, our friends asked if we had hired another doula for this upcoming birth. Knowing that our former doula had recently relocated, they were curious whether or not we’d found someone new. We shared that we hadn’t chosen to hire a replacement, and, gesturing to Jason, I quipped that we were all set because I’d have my dude-la support on hand. I meant it to be funny, but it’s actually quite true, and thus, I coined the term for future use and explanation. 😉
If you’re not familiar with the term doula, the basic definition is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother and family before, during, and just after childbirth. I share a little more about my own role as a doula here, if you’re interested in knowing more. (You can also find an additional link there if you’d like to learn more about supported birth and why I think having a doula is a wonderful option.)
Jason and I have had an amazing doula to support us as we welcomed both Henry and Eloise. After having support with Henry’s birth, I couldn’t visualize Eloise’s delivery without our doula in the picture, and we were so fortunate to be able to work with her a second time. We’d have loved to have our doula with us again for this birth, but given the circumstances, we’ve instead spent time processing whether we wanted a new doula in the room, or if we felt comfortable relying on each other given our previous (and very positive) experiences.
At the end of the day, what gave us the most peace was the decision to work through this next labor together, without a new doula alongside for baby #3’s arrival. It was a crazy-hard choice. As a doula myself, I wholeheartedly see the value and appreciate the comfort that comes with doula support, and Jason does, too. But we have worked well together as a birth team twice now, and it will be a new and equally beautiful thing to head into the hospital with some experience under our belts, believing and trusting that we can navigate birth well the third time around.
Before having Henry, Jason and I attended Hypnobirthing classes, taught by our doula. Hypnobirthing is not as wild as it sounds, although we did attend with reservations at first. Over the course of several classes, what we gained was greater confidence in my body’s ability to birth well, and a set of visualization and relaxation techniques that could help me to cope (and even thrive) in labor and birth. The class proved to be more than helpful, as we employed exercises we’d learned to welcome both Henry and Eloise. I’ve felt more in control of my thoughts and actions/reactions, and Jason has been equipped to help me through the more difficult parts of labor with useful tools and reminders.
Having a dude-la is a funny way of saying that my husband is my support person, but I think it’s just about right. Jason’s presence at each birth hasn’t just been about him being in the room, but rather taking an active role in helping both baby and me to do the hard work of laboring and birthing–without fear or a lack of confidence in a positive result. Knowing that Jason knows me, knows how I function in labor, and knows what I’m hoping for in the birth of this baby are all added comforts to the fact that he is familiar with what brings me back to a self-controlled, measured, calm space in labor. No one else in my world can claim that role at this stage, and I’m grateful that we can do this together.
Baby number three has kept us on our toes and been an adventure already, so I have no doubt that this next birth will be exciting and wonderful and new in many ways, too. As we look to that day ahead of us and prepare for birth again, it works out well that my husband and my dude-la are one in the same. I’m sure this next notch in our parenting belt will have a great story to go with it. Now if only I can muster up the patience to weather this waiting space as we get close.
endorsing doulas and/or dude-las for all!