Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Part 2: Doula Danger continues

Let's pick up where I left off in the previous post, shall we?

Right. Jan was rubbing my back as I leaned over the hospital bed, resting on my forearms. Scott was on the other side of the bed, holding my hands and encouraging me through each contraction. "You're doing great, just breathe, 10....9.....8.....7....6......5.....4......3......2......1......BReeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaathhhhhhhheeeee....."

Unfortunately his face was a little too close to mine at this time and I had no patience for his not-so-fresh breath. I couldn't hold it in any longer. I hissed through clenched teeth: "YOU NEED A MINT." These are the only words I remember uttering to my husband during the entire labour and birth. HAHA! How messed up is that?! Luckily, I must have put the fear of God in him because he wasted no time tending to his case of halitosis.

At this point I am now on the laughing gas and thinking, okay, screw what I said about a drug free birth - I am seriously reconsidering the Epidural, like NOW. But before it got to that point I was whisked into the operating room for a C-Section. Background: At some point during my labour I announced to the nurses and Jan that "I think my water just broke." At which point they got all excited and had a look and their pleased expressions quickly turned to grave concern. I had, what was later revealed to be, a placental abruption (read: copious amounts of the red stuff). Those of you who have been pregnant before and read anything about major complications, you know this is one of them. Long story short though, everyone ended up happy and healthy. Back to the crazy doula.....

So, C-Section. So, bye-bye doula. I mean, obviously these things can't be predicted, but of course a doula is not even present for the birth if you're having a section. I think she stuck around in the waiting room until Sadie was born, then wished us all well and v a n i s h e d .

Now, based on the obsessive attention she had been giving me up until our baby was born, I truly expected a call from her the next morning to check in. But the next morning came and went, and the next day, and the day after that. (We are still in the hospital at this point, and Sadie and I are having difficulties figuring out the whole feeding thing.) WE NEEDED HELP. Jan had promised us breast-feeding support and yada yada yada. SHE WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. Our ticket out of the hospital was dependent on my ability to successfully feed Sadie, or the proof that we had someone who could offer help when needed, ie. the person we had hired to do this very thing. So I was calling her over and over and leaving desperate messages on her answering machine to just show her face to the nurses and pledge that she would be there to help us once we were home. Finally I got in touch. She reluctantly agreed to come visit us at the hospital. Sorry for the inconvenience Jan.

She shows up looking rather disheveled and spacy. She is limping and says she is having hip troubles because of her car accident and will require another stint in the hospital herself. I told her I was not having much success breast-feeding and that my precious newborn was hungry. Her attempts to help me get Sadie "on the boob" were down right ridiculous. I wanted to swat her away like fly. It was really like she had never even seen anyone breastfeed before let alone assisted in the process. I was going MENTAL. The nurses had a baby scale in our room because we would often weigh Sadie to see if she had in fact gotten any milk. At one point it was only Scott, Jan, myself and Sadie in the room and Scott suggested we put her on the scale - an instrument we figured someone who had claimed to have worked in a Mother-Babe ward for 15 years would know how to operate. Too bad, so sad. She had no idea how to work it and Scott ended up figuring it out.

At this point, I am thinking "Jan, your work here is done. Be on your way. The nurses have seen you and are under the impression that you will be there for us, but really - you are no longer of any use to us. GET OUT." Only my problem is I can't actually say things like this out loud to people. I know, I KNOW! I must become more assertive.
Unfortunately, Jan decides to stick around afterall and begins chattering inanely. Scott takes this as his cue to turn on an episode of Deadliest Catch on the portable DVD player and tune out. At which point Jan begins telling me how her daughter was at a Christian youth group the night before and the leader asked if anyone knew of someone they could pray for and sing a song about. Jan's daughter, whom we've never met, apparently says that a little baby girl named Sadie has just been born and could everyone pray for her and dedicate a song about Jesus to her. Jan then proceeds to sing a few verses of the song to me and demonstrate how everyone held up their hands and danced.


So here I am in my hospital room invisioning a possibly evangelical group of strangers singing a song in honour of my 4-day old child. Sure, some would call it a thoughtful gesture, I mean, I know she meant well. But at the time, in my particular state, I called it wackadoo. Now - before you start thinking I am anti-religion or anything - please don't. I absolutely appreciate and respect a person's right to his or her own belief system. It's simply that religion is not something I grew up with myself. So I can't really say that faith plays a large role in my life. Faith in a higher power, yes. Faith in specific stories about specific religious figures, not so much. What my children decide to put their faith in when they're grown is for them to decide. BUT FOR NOW, at a few days old, I just wasn't comfortable with ANY religion being associated with my daughter. Call me hormonal, or whatever. I don't know. How would you react?
I am trying to get Scott's attention and somehow make it clear to Jan that she may be excused and that I need to rest. Eventually, after what seemed like hours, she was gone.

We never heard from her again, and her doula website has been shut down and her name removed from all of the local doula directories. I really have no idea what happened or what was up with her. A part of me suspects she was a faker and a nutjob, and that she had no real training and thought that this might be a good way to make some money. But another part of me thinks she actually was a certified doula, but that our paths crossed at a time when she was facing some seriously difficult issues in her life that she just couldn't prevent from ultimately invading her professional life as well. If that's the case, then of course I do feel sympathy for her.....but at the same time, I didn't really sign up for that kind of doula baggage. I would have much rather she was honest with us and when the going was getting tough simply explained that due to personal issues she couldn't carry out her committment to us and if we could kindly find another doula that would be appreciated. Hey, NO PROBLEM.

But instead, this is our doula story.
Disclaimer: I still think doulas are a wonderful resource for women who want a little extra support during childbirth. And like any profession, there are good ones and there are not so good ones. Hiring a doula could be the best decision you ever make surrounding your labour and delivery experience.....or it could be, as in our case, one of the worst. Do you have any doula tales to share with me? I would love to hear them! And what is your conclusion? Was Jan a phony?


Kristine said...

My goodness. You are a saint for putting up with her for that long. I think you summed her up in one word - wackadoo.

Unknown said...

I work with doulas and meet lots of different ones. Some are beyond fantastic and have ideas I hadn't thought of. Some are so supportive that I don't know what to do with myself in the labour room because they are meeting the needs of the women so fantastically. Others...well, there are others. Just like any type of 'job'. I've worked with some that are terrible and we've had to ask a few to leave that were over stepping boundaries. It's really too bad that you had such a terrible experience with 'Jan'. I'm curious how you found her and if she was 'DONA' certified?

Koo and Poppet said...

we really did have such high hopes for our doula experience....we had heard so many great things about having one. We found Jan through the Victoria Doula directory which has its own disclaimer that it is just a resource and not a referral site. The site states that it is the responsibility of the individual to check credentials, etc. Jan claimed to be DONA certified, and she did have a DONA t-shirt, but beyond that we just took her word for it....

A Colour a Day said...

No more dreams about doulas last night. But thanks for sharing Part Two.

lucky_14 said...

i want this to be a book. you should write it. i'll buy it.