Hey, y’all. I know Friday afternoon is the worst possible time to post and hope for responses, but well, yeah.
From time to time, someone will comment on one of my birth-freak-out posts that I should really consider hiring a doula this time. And we are. But, point of order, we had a doula last time. She doesn’t make it into the blog record in any significant way because frankly, she was a profoundly neutral aspect of that story. She did meet us at the hospital. She did sit with me so Sugar could get something to eat. She did stop talking after I told her to, during that same period (the peaceful time, when the epidural was working and I was recovering from that too-exciting cab ride, listening to the Bean’s heart on the monitor). She did repeat in a calm tone the (stupid) things Dr. Russian was yelling at me to do, which meant at least Dr. Russian wasn’t yelling them right then. She did hold my leg while they stitched me up, so that Sugar could go be with the Bean. She did give me some incredibly confusing breastfeeding instructions.
That’s about it. She did not, for instance, provide meaningful emotional support to me or Sugar. She did not help us stand up for ourselves in the onslaught of Dr. Russian’s abuse. She did not visit postpartum or anything like that. (She did not come to our apartment during the early part of labor, either, but that is because it turned out that I didn’t want to call her. Slightly late revelation, there.)
In fairness, she was very inexperienced and working for peanuts, thanks to what I still believe is a beautiful NYC program with a goal of providing full-spectrum doulas (that means abortion doulas, too) to women who can’t afford the regular kind. The program assigned us two doulas, and well, the one we liked better was the one who was unavailable that night. Because we were the beneficiaries of a charity program and because I didn’t see the trainwreck that was my obstetric “care” team coming, I was content enough in our early meetings that both of them seemed nice enough and seemed to understand the “higher risk of c-section: don’t freak me out” and “epidural: yes” parts of our talk.
This time around, however, I want to feel like we are going in there with a dedicated team. Protected, that’s how I want to feel. I keep envisioning myself surrounded by warriors, or maybe the Old Testament kind of angels, the ones with the swords. I suppose I can’t have fourteen of them, but that’s the image.
So. This time I want to do better, but I’m at a bit of a loss. There’s the woman upstairs, who seems nice and has a fair bit of experience. (10-20 births, according to the NYC Doula Coop page.) I’ve mentioned it to her but not talked in much detail. There’s asking the local listserv and so on. There’s also a college friend of mine, who just got certified but has lots of non-birth experience advocating in a hospital setting — and who also reads this blog, at least sometimes, so I’m not going into a full character description here. Suffice it to say that there are reasons I would look past my initial “no inexperienced doulas” requirement in her case.
Is a friend a good idea because she shares many of my values? Or a bad idea because I will fear really letting my hair down, as it were? (My experience of labor last time is that I would have let my pubic hair down in front of the Queen, for all I cared about social niceties in that setting.)
My point, and I do have one, is to ask if any of you have thoughts about what to talk about when I have an informal meeting with this friend on Sunday. She knows the story, so that should save some melting down on my part. I plan to tell her that it’s the “fierce” part of the bio she wrote herself that I find most compelling, that I want a powerful advocate, someone who I can be sure won’t let abuse go by, even if that means telling Sugar and me to stick up for ourselves rather than decking the abusive party. (Which would be my first choice.)
P.S. I made an appointment with a therapist who takes my insurance, has worked with birth-trauma patients, and is certified in EMDR. Gold star for me! I didn’t even cry on the phone this time.