I am a doula. I serve. A doula is self care for expectant families. We provide support, advocacy, comfort, and often calm and peace.
This morning, I had my most difficult case to date. My client was an 18 year old undocumented person who decided to offer her child for adoption. She has a three year old child she came to this country to provide for, and didn’t feel she could work and take care of another child.
During the birth, she labored without medication. She was determined and strong. (NOT that going med free is what made her strong. All laboring people show strength at some point)
As a Doula, I have worked with pregnant people who have opted to terminate, but never with a person who opted for adoption. As I watched this young woman labor, she said “I don’t want to hear the baby cry. It will overwhelm me.” To the credit of the hospital staff, they worked quickly and efficiently to remove the baby almost immediately after the birth. The adoption agency was en route, and the young woman was moved to a quiet private room to reduce the possiblity of hearing babies cry.
Women are often required to make painful choices in order to provide and grow and often, just to live.
Once the midwife had checked her and ensured her that she was doing well, I asked her how she was feeling. With tears in her eyes, she replied “relieved”. There was nothing else to be said. I simply sat and we held hands and were both consumed with our thoughts. I hope my presence brought her peace. She said it did.
As I left the hospital, it occurred to me that sometimes, self care hurts. Women are often required to make painful choices in order to provide and grow and often, just to live.
I’m honored that the universe led me to this woman, and grateful I was able to serve her. I learned valuable lessons. Self care is broad. We’re doing each other a disservice when we narrow self care to a flowery box of manicures and waxes.
Sometimes self care looks like digging deep and allowing ourselves to make hard decisions and forgiving ourselves daily. It looks like making challenging choices like adoption, or managing the fear of undocumented living, or leaving an abusive home, that is YOUR home and familiar, even if it’s unsafe.
Self care is using resources to support you through those times. There is no shame in seeking help or guidance or an advocate.