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Won’t Someone Call Me A Doula Please…!

May 31, 2011

Won’t Someone Call Me A Doula Please…!
Genny White

I was doing prenatals with the midwife I was training with when the subject of Doulas, the vocation that seeks to provide emotional support throughout childbirth and sometimes the post partum period came up in conversation. At that time I was a meager intern, some might say student midwife or even apprentice. I shared that I could not understand how any professional organization could hope to receive respectful acknowledgement selecting for themselves a term that meant slave such as Doula. I myself have provided doula care for both childbirth and postpartum care. I had selected to use the term PLA, Professional Labor Assistant for my contracts and correspondence. Yes, I can still see the bold black letters P.L.A. behind my name. I had read Polly Perez’s book Special Women and toyed with the French word Monitrice. I actually knew a midwife in Indiana who marketed her doula services as a Monitrice, but had settled on my smug P.L.A.  At this time keep in mind that midwifery schools were referring to their students as student midwives and moving toward the more reverenced term midwifery intern. I think there was a surge for those training to reach for recognition coming out of a climate where previous training materials such as Becoming A Midwife , Carolyn Steiger (Still a classic) encouraged apprentices to clean out their midwife’s car. Silence fell across the office as the couple there for their prenatal care looked on.

The man finally spoke. This Father who most notably was of Greek origin spoke and broke the silence, He said “My Dear, you are failing to understand what the word Doula means to the Greek.” This man with his thick curly black hair and sun drenched olive skin continued as we were transformed from a midwife’s office in the inland empire to the Areopagus/ Mars Hill.

I could see the cypress and smell the Mediterranean, taste the sun ripened tomatoes and flat bread with figs as my friend waxed eloquent. You see he continued, “a Doula is not a servant in the sense of a slave. It is more closely translated trusted advocate, more like an attorney or a physician.  A Doula is someone who has proven himself trustworthy enough to be entrusted with the most sensitive and vulnerable knowledge of someone or a situation, and then charged with acting on someone’s behalf. A doula is one who is relied upon with the task of filling your papers for you at the court. A Doula is one who interfaces with the powers to be to convey your wishes and needs. A doula is a rare trusted skilled and talented representative advocating for you.”
Well some time later, I had had my own experience most notably interceding for a couple whose newborn was found to have a congenital heart defect. The neonate was transferred from the hospital where it was born to a higher care tertiary children’s hospital there I met the mother and father who had now given birth less than 12 hours ago and had been discharged from the hospital where the birth occurred. The mother stood and wept, openly dismayed that she could not rock and nurse her baby. Before arriving at the unit I had stopped by administration and apprised them of my presence and credentials. Straight away I began addressing the problem requesting that a rocking chair be brought in to the unit, and placed close by the isolate and that the mother be allowed to sit and nurse her baby.  My request was elevated to the point that I was now standing face to face with the peri-natalogist in charge of this neonates care. Presenting him with my business card, we enjoyed a polite dialogue.  His response to this situation was that this mother should be able to hold and nurse her child adding to the response that he had to work with these people day in and day out.  A rocking chair was rediscovered from a storage closet and was brought into place for this mother and baby.  As I left the mother had climbed into the isolate rocking chair and was nursing her son, with tears falling down her face — tears of joy. I had met with the powers that be and successfully articulated what my client’s needs and wishes were.
Seventeen months ago our 18-year-old daughter was killed when the car driven by her boyfriend was crashed into by an intoxicated driver that set off a chain reaction most horrible collision.  When the vehicles came to a stop our daughter head came to rest in her boyfriend’s lap where he was the most unfortunate witness to her hemorrhaging brain injury she lay bleeding from her ears and nose and gasping her last unassisted breaths. I myself can bear witness to this seeing first hand her boyfriend’s colorless face and his denims stained with my daughter’s blood.  He made a bee line to her place of care once being cleared from the treatment he had received.  Months passed while we walked through the judicial process.  We came to know the District Attorney, and he came to know us the victim’s family. On the day of the sentencing we wanted the maximum sentence.  If truth be known we wanted life in prison for this drunken repeat offender who had snuffed the life out of our beloved daughter, sister, and girlfriend.  That sentence, the maximum was 33 years.  Each member of our family and our daughter’s boyfriend and his grand mother took turns addressing the judge imploring him to give this murderer the maximum sentence.   The afternoon began by the Judge sharing that before we even began speaking that he had predetermined that the sentence would be 30 years.
We each spoke.  A single representative for the defendant spoke and particularly shared of his benevolence in visiting the hospital of one who had suffered an aneurism.  This was pitiful to those of us who were there.  We found it hard to understand how he could cite this act of good will when at the time of the crash he fled with a cell phone in hand and failed to be able to even stop and summon aide for our daughter who was hemorrhaging to death in her boyfriends lap. When all was said, the District Attorney, Jason Baez Esq. arose and addressed the Judge. Attorney Baez apprised the judge that the only thing in all the charges before him that represented any significance to the pain and suffering of my daughter’s boyfriend in witnessing the horrors of his girlfriend’s death before his eyes and on going related pain and suffering, not to mention the chronic pain in his shoulder was this one charge for bodily harm that carried the sentence of one year that might have been overlooked by the judge.  Attorney Baez’s request was heard and granted by the Judge, (Orange County Superior court) who set forth the sentence of 31 years for the drunken drive with repeated offences who killed our daughter. What a great job this District Attorney did for us the victims family and for Orange County CA!  He was entrusted with the most vulnerable and sensitive of details regarding this crime.  He interacted with the Powers-that-be and was heard. He was a Doula.  I want to be a Doula. Won’t some one call me a Doula Pleaseee!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2013 11:18 am

    Thank you so much for using some time in order to write “Wont Someone Call Me A Doula Please!
    | Birthnavigator’s Blog”. Thank you yet again ,Rosa

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