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Tori’s Stories: A Doula-mentary

Depositphotos_41072957_s_2015.jpgThe morning my midwife disappeared was a warm Monday in September. I was 36 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I was preparing to go out to meet some other local moms. New to the area, I was half dressed as I picked up the phone to make an appointment, just like she had told me to do at our last prenatal.  “My schedule isn’t set up at the new location,” she’d told me on Thursday, “so just call next week and they’ll get you taken care of.”

Having been here less than three months, I knew no one. Feeling giantic and vulnerable, the way being 8 months pregnant can make you feel, I felt like my midwife was one of the few people who knew my name and I could count on smiling when I met her.  I called the new office.  “I’m sorry, that midwife doesn’t work here.  I believe she still works at that other location.”  Um, ok.  So I called the old place.  “I’m sorry, that midwife no longer works here.”

No one would tell me what had happened to her or who would be around to see me for the next four weeks.  For all my crazy, pregnant-lady brain knew, she could have been in some horrible accident, and I would never know.  I felt so ALONE and a little angry.  I had spent months forging a relationship with her. I mean, she had had her hands in my nether regions!!  That should *mean* something, right?! And then *poof* she was gone. If only I’d had a doula the day my midwife disappeared.

If I had a doula the day my midwife disappeared..

...she would have held my hand and probably brought me some Ben and Jerry’s.  (I mean, if there was ever a time for some Phish Food, 8 months pregnant for the first time with no midwife in a new city is it!) She would have reassured me that it’s not uncommon to get attached to our providers, especially the midwives who spend so much time with us, who make it their mission to help us trust our own bodies, and that I’m not crazy for feeling alone, or angry or uncomfortable.  It’s all normal and it’s all ok.

My doula would have reminded me that I was not actually without a care provider.  That in the state of Virginia, Certified Nurse Midwives work with OBs who officially oversee their patients.  That it was one of the things I liked about having a nurse-midwife, and that her boss was still my OB, and that I could go see that doctor for the remainder of my pregnancy if I wanted.  That while it was certainly understandable that I felt alone, my baby and I were still in good hands.

If I had the time, she would tell me to be patient. As she held my hand, she would explain that there is a good possibility that my midwife was very likely not “gone” but merely waiting out a contract before starting at another local place like so many providers do here in the 'Burg.  But since I didn’t have the time to wait it out, she would have asked what I wanted to do next, that no matter what I decided, I would have her support, and she would be with me through the birth of my baby.

If I’d have said, “Find another provider” she would have pointed me in the direction of someone whose care and practice aligned with my own thoughts and feelings about birth.  She would have helped me find a good fit, and she would have checked in on me until I was comfortable with the new person.

I would have been able to trust that her hard work in building bridges and strengthening connections in the medical community would lead to the most up-to-date information available. Her familiarity with the players involved and with my own communication style would have helped me read between the lines of what was going on, and help me and my husband feel like we weren’t all alone in this ordeal.

But I didn’t have a doula, and I ended up feeling very alone.  Very fragile, and a little abandoned.  I basically spent the next week crying, frantically searching for a midwife who would be covered by my insurance and who would give me the same attention as the One Who Got Away.  I could blame the pregnancy hormones, but I was pretty rightfully feeling shaken.

It turned out ok.  In the end, I found someone who could help me, and I safely and happily delivered my first baby exactly where I wanted to, how I wanted to.  But if I’d had a doula, the whole process would have been much more comfortable, supported and informed.  Because that’s what a doula does.

If you are feeling a little bit alone after the midwives at Sentera-Pratt have stopped seeing patients this week, please check my business blog for the latest updates, and feel free to give us a call.  We know from personal and professional experience how important it is to feel secure in the care you’ve chosen for your pregnancy and birth, and we are happy to help you navigate this small bump in the road to your growing family!

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About Victoria

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Victoria is mom to three precocious preschool-aged sons, proud Army wife, and owner of Doulas of Fredericksburg.  She enjoys spending time in her not-so-fruitful vegetable garden, and believes with every fiber of her being that in order to raise capable and confident kiddos, we should leave no stone unturned (and no support left untouched) to find these qualities in ourselves!

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