In the last few interviews I've had, the question has come up, "What makes you as a doula different than a nanny or a housekeeper?" I answer that I have more training than a nanny or housekeeper has with newborn care and care of a postpartum mama. As a doula, my first responsibility is to the mama.
The other day at work, that was hit home to me once again. Mama was having a really bad day...really bad. And it was because of someone else she hired to work in her home...someone who has been with this family longer than I have. The other employee didn't really mean to hurt mama, I don't think. But mama is having a hard time...she doesn't get enough sleep...the entire family has been sick with a stomach bug...babies are fussy...toddler is busy. Mama was deeply hurt.
As I work with this family, not a lot of what I do each day is physically for the mama anymore. She doesn't need me to get her snacks while she nurses. I don't have to remind her to drink enough water. She doesn't have many issues regarding breastfeeding twins to talk through anymore. Mama is up and around...shopping...running...working from home, even.
But when I am in her home, I am always thinking about what I am doing and how that is something that is taken care of for mama. When I do the laundry...when I wipe down the kitchen counters...when I pick up toys...when I am changing diapers...when I am soothing a baby who just wants a cuddle...when I am playing with a baby who will soon take a nap...when I prepare a meal to be eaten later.
All that I do, I think of her. Maybe because I know how much I would appreciate someone doing these things for me. Maybe that I remember what it's like to have 3 kids 3 and under. Maybe because this is some way I can live out a faith that I don't much understand anymore.
A doula is a servant.