As my business has grown these last two years (yes...I just celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the first birth I attended!), our life has had a shift, as well. I've gone from being on call sometimes to pretty much living on call.
I go on call for my clients at 38 weeks of pregnancy. And I remain on call for that client until a week after the baby is born. That means that I can be on call for a client as long as three or four weeks. And once, my on call period lasted five weeks for a client that had a baby who wanted to stay on the inside a bit longer. And because I have 2-3 clients most months, that means my on calls overlap. Occaisionally, I'm on call for four moms at once. What does it mean to live on call?
It means always having my fully-charged phone near me with the ringer on and turned up. All the time. 24/7.
It means that when we want to go camping for a weekend, we have to choose a campground within an hour's drive of home, drive two cars, take along my doula bag and business files and have a separate shower bag for me so that I can shower before I leave if I get called for a birth.
It means that my doula bag is always packed and sitting next to our bedroom door (or front door if I know mama is in early labor) with my birth clothes neatly folded and sitting on top...waiting.
It means adding the phrase “as long as I'm not at a birth” at the end of my RSVP for everything and then sometimes missing those things because I'm at a birth or recovering from a birth.
It means having on call childcare and several back-up plans in place so that I can get to my clients when they need me, day or night. (Thank you, Chelsea!!!!!)
It means if I'd like a glass of wine, I have ONE glass.
It means being woken up in the middle of the night, getting dressed, quietly kissing my sleeping family and slipping out.
It means not knowing how long I'll be gone when I get called to a birth.
It sometimes means going many many hours without sleep.
It means that at any time, I am ready to leave my three sweet children to witness a mircale.
It means that at any time, I may be called away to support a woman as she finds her strength, learns to trust her capable body, and transforms from woman to mother.
It means that at any time, I may leave my amazingly supportive and loving husband to watch a beautiful love story unfold between a new mom, a new dad, and the life they created and birthed together.
It is sometimes hard living on call. I could say it's one of the hardest parts of my job. I've missed some thing's I'd rather not have missed. I've learned to go 40+ hours with no sleep. But, every second of it has been worth it.
Amber Piller - Professional Birth Doula and owner of Agape Birth Services. Serving Northwest Houston including Jersey Village, Cypress, Tomball, Spring, and Katy Texas.