Monday, September 8, 2008

A lot of taxi rides

I take a lot of taxis, mostly going to and from births at the wee hours of morning. Anyone out at those times usually has a good reason. The taxi drivers, usually men, tend to be curious about where a girl like me is coming from or going. If the location I am going to/coming from is a hospital, they ask if I am a doctor or nurse. Explaining that I am independent but work in hospitals and what a doula does to the non-initiate is always a challenge. Generally, the drivers at this time of night/morning--interesting people themselves--have never heard of doulas; if they have heard of doulas, they ask if it is like a midwife, although they may even believe a midwife is something from the middle ages. 

I often reply that a doula is different from a midwife because we don't catch babies. We are present for the entire labor and birth providing emotional support, physical comfort, perspective, information, suggestions and encouragement to women and their partners. I choose not to talk about the important but intangible holding of the space. And yet, it is that and also so much more.

Even when I am exhausted, I don't want to shrug it off and let an opportunity to share the nature of this work pass by. By talking about it with everyone and anyone, we validate the need for it. We are creating a movement that does not stop with moms and babies. This is the entry point. Birth is the only time when healthy people go into the hospital as 'patients'. If we can make a difference here, think where we can go next. 

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