By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
I have been a birth doula for 15 years. Like many of you, I jumped right in after training and soon found myself fairly busy. At my prime, I would regularly attend as many as 45 plus births a year for my own clients and another handful as a backup. As my business, (and my body) matured, and I added other work responsibilities and skills to my practice, I needed to slow down so that I could continue to meet other work deadlines, such as writing this blog and training doulas and childbirth educators, among other things.
Currently, I typically attend approximately ten births a year, which feels mostly do-able. While I may not have a client within dates (37-42 weeks) every week of the year, I pretty much have at least a few pregnant clients on my calendar all the time. Should they need a doula, I would go unless I am out of town, and then I would send my backup, even if it is before 37 weeks. I get it- things happen. Especially with birth.
I recently supported my last clients on my docket and I am now completely off call. While I am still interviewing and beginning to book my small client load for 2019, I have not one client on the books. I am completely off call. No one will call me in the middle of the night. No one’s water will release. I will not help anyone to determine if “this is really it?”
I don’t have to end every plan with “unless at a birth.” I can spontaneously go out of town. I can stay up late binge-watching a favorite show, without worries that I might be called to a birth on no sleep. I don’t drink or use marijuana (which is legal in my home state) but if I did, I could enjoy them without worrying. I don’t have to be sure that I travel in my own car everywhere I go so I can leave quickly. I can let my phone battery run down. I don’t have to keep my lucky birth clothes clean and ready to wear. I can eat all the garlic I want!
There is such a true, sweet relief in being off call. I don’t even know how to find the words to describe it. It is an amazing state of mind: a sense of deep, complete, absolute and total relief. A new way of looking at the world. Everything is just a bit brighter and sharper. It feels very freeing.
I have an interview later today, and just like that, should these potential clients and I decide to work together, I may find myself back on call. But for the moment, for right now, I am off call and I am reveling in the sweet relief.
How do you handle the on-call life? Do you schedule in breaks so you have some downtime? How do you celebrate when you are off call? Let me know in the comments section below.