What? You don't know EVERYTHING?
The other day, I was preparing to attend a birth. My clients and I had been keeping in touch all night and now at the moment of first light, they were ready for me to come be with them. I finished packing up my birth bag and got that all too familiar feeling in my belly. A combination of excitement, anticipation and dare I say....uncertainty. Although I have been a doula for more than a decade, I still feel that small bit of doubt inside of me every time I am making my way to a birth. Will I be able to lend the support that this family NEEDS? Will I be useful to them?
When I am on my way to a birth, I have a ritual. I work all the way there on breathing in confidence and competence, breathing out fear and anxiety. I listen to Pump Me Up music to energize and inspire myself. This is so that little soft ball of uncertainly will be overcome with energy, confidence and strength.
I don't like that feeling of uncertainty. It feels vulnerable and weak. This particular morning though, I left it. I let the uncertainty sit there inside my belly, where it lives. And instead of trying to breathe in confidence, I breathed in the soft vulnerability of that uncertainty. I had no idea how this birth would turn out. I had no idea in what specific ways my clients would need me. What if I forgot something essential? What if I forgot everything!? For some reason, that morning, it was ok to not have the answers to all those questions.
It was a gently, freeing feeling.
Our vulnerability is not weakness. It is a part of all of us and can be incorporated in to birth work. Indeed, in to our lives.
Showing up is the best thing you can do for your clients. Be there for them in all your wholeness, including your uncertainty.
Being with them and offering your wisdom- as it is asked for- is full of value and caring.
Being open and willing is the best kind of support anyone needs. Open to change course, open to new ideas, open to hearing things you don't like to hear.
So, that's what I did...I breathed in the openness of uncertainty. I just left it there inside of me and it was really and truly ok. I know I provided excellent support to these new parents and I didn't wrestle myself into trying to be the Doula Wizard; she who knows all things and can vanquish bad outcomes with her magic tools (heat pads, ice packs, rebozos and peanut balls)
I also began thinking about how this way of thinking and being may be helpful to parents in the very early days post birth. also and these particular clients completely demonstrated this for me. Three days later when I went to visit them, they were so relaxed and laid back even though they shared with me their anxieties and worries about caring for their baby. They were living IN the uncertainty. And it was ok. I reassured them that things would unfold while they were there just living out their experience.
Don't try to banish your uncertainty, your vulnerability as a doula or a new parent. Labour, birth and early days post birth ARE by nature uncertain times, vulnerable times and we need to let them just BE that, be a part of the whole experience. We will find ourselves more open and free as a result.