Doula (ˈdo͞olə): a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born
I am not a doula. I have not been trained to assist a woman during childbirth and time has not permitted me to truly provide support to the family after a baby is born.
Yet, I have acted as an untrained doula three times. Encouraging, coaching, assisting, supporting, loving one as she labored in the effort that is required to bring forth life. I stood in my appointed place and waited with bated breath. The first time, was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The subsequent times were equally brilliant.
The fourth time I did not stand in my place. I waited with bated breath for hours upon hours. Guilt and disappointment and anxiety reigned within me.
My eleventh living baby resides in another state and the first 13 days of her life have passed and I have not held or smelled or touched her. I have not heard her sweet bay of a cry, stroked the hair on her head, felt the softness of her skin, watched her moro reflex in action, or watched her siblings behold her in the way that young siblings do.
But I love her.
I love them all: Haydn Elizabeth Marie, Louise Jane, Jonah Andrew, Ava Annabel Leigh, June Bernice, Sophia Ruth Lynndea, Caroline Story, Corinne Alexandra Dara, Sadie Elizabeth, Olivia Parker Rose, and Rosalie Roan.
I am not a mother. I have not labored to bring forth these little lives. As much as I dearly love each of them, I do not carry them in my heart as their mothers do. I do not worry over their comings and goings as their mothers do.
I love them like an aunt does. Like a very good aunt.
Doula do or doula don’t. Birth is a most beautiful thing, but it is but a moment. I look forward to the days and weeks and months and years of loving her, of loving them all.
As a very good aunt should do.