One woman's path through doula training, childrearing, and a computer science Ph. D. program

Friday, August 21, 2009

Any day now

Any day now: This was my standard post-37-weeks answer when anyone would ask, gazing at my large, round form, when my baby was due. Even knowing that most first-time mothers do not deliver before 40 weeks (I think 41 is the mean), somehow I knew that, at 38 weeks, it was "any day now." I delivered at 38 1/2 weeks.

My first doula client is due any day now. That is, she is about 35 1/2 weeks along but it is becoming clear that it will be soon. Her baby has dropped ("lightening") and is in position. She has been having fairly consistent Braxton-Hicks contractions for six days, getting progressively stronger. And at home, she has been boiling diapers and hanging clothes lines. Sure, it could take another month, but probably not. If she holds out until Sunday, she can deliver at the birth center rather than the hospital. Hang in there, girl!

As the time draws near, I am both excited for her and apprehensive about my own role as her doula. She is my first client, and I have quite a bit of performance anxiety. What if I do not fulfill her expectations? What if I say or do something wrong? And my biggest fear -- what if she feels unsupported, afraid, and alone?

There is only one way, short of those hypnosis re-trainers of dubious credentials, to get over something, and that is to do it. My mind tells me I will be a fine doula for her. I know her well, and we have discussed all aspects of her pregnancy at length. She is as overprepared as I am. Yet as my mind is certain I am ready (and prepared) to be a strong and gentle support person in her labor, my emotions are raging. I have even been having anxiety dreams!

Do doulas get labor support -- while on the job? Maybe I should hire one for myself!

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