A Doula's Grief

Birth and Postpartum Doulas in Tulsa

Written by Sarah Coffin, Birth DoulaPostpartum DoulaChildbirth Educator and Owner of Tulsa Family Doulas

There is a commonality in the profession of doula (professional birth and postpartum support) that stems from an enormous amount of compassion for a pregnant, birthing and new mom. Many stories of how one became a professional doula entail joy, excitement, sorrow and even anger. But, the reason we stay in this incredibly demanding job is because we understand the value of having someone provide a constant stream of physical, emotional and educational care during such major transitions in life.

There is a fine line in this profession of maintaining emotional objectivity from a client’s decisions and actions in birth and parenting while simultaneously fielding the emotions of an incredible bond held between yourself, as the doula, and your clients.

How can we not bond when we are hand in hand witnessing a woman undergo one of the most intense tasks her body undertakes? How do we not connect when every time our client opens their eyes while feeling the strength of her body working in waves, she looks into our eyes to be assured that she is indeed strong enough? How do we distance ourselves emotionally when a new dad looks at us with tears of appreciation streaming down his face knowing that he could support his wife how she needed it most because he was not alone in his task?

We don’t. We dance that dance of objectivity and immense bond every time we hear our phone ring at 2 o’clock in the morning and climb out of our bed to live our passion. We sway to the rhythm of reading a laboring woman’s unspoken language and choose our words carefully to lessen her burden and give her strength. We watch each of their songs be sung and feel each individual melody pulse through our souls.

And sometimes, those songs are desperately sorrowful.

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We are present when unexpected diagnosis are told, emergencies strike fear, machines maintain life and breath is not found. Yet, where do we stand and how do we fit in this grief? We aren’t family. We often aren’t close-circle friends. Yet, we are far more than an acquaintance. Our presence is sought for a moment in the life of a family, and now that moment where we stand and witness is clouded with sorrow. Our association is one of pain where all previous plans and preparation included joy.

As bitter as it is to participate in the midst of grief, our life circles around us, but it seems a little slower now. We will take the time to sit still in the car with the music turned up and wait for the song to finish while sitting in a parking lot.

We will hold onto our children, spouse or friends a little longer when we embrace and feel free to let the tears stream down our face when we look down into the eyes of those we love and wonder why our story is different.

For the babies whose birth announcements we will never get to see and tuck away, whose major milestones and first day of kindergarten we will never get to smile about while connecting over social media, and who we will never get to witness become a big brother or sister, your mom’s doula never forgets you and grieves deeply for you.

We go into that next birth and every birth after with the expectation of normalcy, but the knowledge that it isn’t always true.

Each first lusty cry always has been and always will be a miracle.

With love,

Your Doula