Monday, January 11, 2010

worries: a more personal entry

Time to discuss some worries.

My doula mentor, B, told me that she had a birth for me, and I was, of course, excited. She told me that she had been informed by a woman at a medicaid health clinic-type place that there were some low-income women in need of doulas, and so B thought it would be a great opportunity for her apprentice doulas (I'm not the only one she's helping out). Anyway, the woman she suggested for me lives in Baltimore city, is 18 and pregnant with her first child. She lives with her sister and doesn't have a job. The father, and ex-boyfriend, is not too thrilled about the pregnancy and isn't convinced its his baby, and they've been fighting. For this blog, the girls name is Shamilia (I had a friend in 3rd grade named Shamilia). Shamilia has been upset because she's decided to have the baby but wants the father to be supportive and isn't sure she'll be able to have everything her baby needs, since she can't get hired anywhere. She already has an OB and she wants a doula there, in addition to her sister, the father, her mom and his mom (yikes!)

At first I thought that it was great - a teen woman client would be perfect for me since I'm young myself. I was a little hesitant when she said that the due date is in July, because I'm hoping that by then I'll be moving down to Florida to get ready for graduate school. And since talking to her, I'm actually kind of hoping that she doesn't decide she wants me to be her doula. But thinking that and even daring to type that out here makes me mad at myself, because I'm so desperate for Cert. Births shouldn't I just take what I can get? But its not the most ideal time, one, and two....

Well, I am honestly a bit worried about the fact that she comes from a low-income situation in Baltimore. Baltimore city scares me - true fact. I don't feel comfortable meeting her in her home, and I'm not sure I really want my cert births to be so full of baby daddy drama. Seriously. I'd love to help out with a struggling teen mom, but I'm not getting a good read on the situation here. When I called her house there was music blaring in the background and she didn't even really greet me, she was just like "can you call me on my cell phone?" So I did, and she was half asleep and I could only understand half of what she was mumbling into the phone, even though she insisted we could talk now instead of her calling me back.

It was a little bit odd for both of us, I think, her being so young and pregnant for the very first time, and me being a brand spanking new doula on her first potential client call. We talked for a long time, but like I said, I couldn't tell at all if she was interested in me or not.  I told B that and she seemed to think that Shamilia was definitely interested, but she also pointed out that she's not going to have a lot of options. Both B and I told Shamilia that she should meet more than one doula and see who she likes best, so B is suggesting another doula apprentice, and I am really hoping she likes her better. How awful of me? I don't know.

My trainer from my workshop back in November told us that if we get a vibe or don't feel comfortable with a potential client then we should go with our gut and just decline. "I know myself very well, and I'm not the right doula for you." I'd be a little bit embarrassed to tell B that I'm nervous about Shamilia, though, when she so clearly would not be nervous about it at all.

Anyway, just had to express my worries!


  1. Sounds like a tough situation...tough enough that I'd almost feel it would be better for a more experienced doula...even if it seems like age proximity could be a good thing she could get from you. Her due-date and your potential move really could be problematic too.

    Truly a tough situation, but maybe you should go with your gut on this one...

  2. I want to put in my 2 cents here as a doula who has done a lot of the more low-income/teen mom/not your "typical" doula client births. I found that these clients - especially the young ones - don't tend to give good connection vibes. Teenagers just don't know how to communicate that well, I think. They don't realize that being half-asleep and mumbling does not read as "excited" ;-) It doesn't mean they don't need you, and it doesn't mean that it can't be a good experience for you. The first "real" birth I ever went to as a doula was for a very young teenager with her whole family there. (Not dissimilar baby daddy issues either.) She didn't do a lot of communicating with me, and I did sometimes feel crowded to the side with all her family there, and as a new doula, I wanted to "do" more. That birth was part of my learning process that sometimes my presence is the important thing. Because a few weeks later she sent me a lovely thank-you card (and in dozens of volunteer births I've gotten very few of those!)

    Anyway, I sound like I'm telling you "definitely take this!" but I'm more trying to say, not all clients are the same, and be open to what each birth has to teach you - maybe this woman is a good match for you, and maybe not. But I would definitely agree that the timing piece is an issue. If you're not sure you'll be there in July, you should tell her now so she can factor it into her decision making.

    Anyway, good luck!

  3. Thank you for your comments! Its good to hear your thoughts. :)

    I think I'm going to go ahead and meet with her and then see how I feel after that. I may also drag my feet on it a little until I hear back in March about grad school. Then I would be able to tell her for sure whether I can or cannot be there.


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