The first thing I want to say is that I fully recognize how awesome it is that we're able to have any choice in the matter -- a lot of women, if they're lucky, have their 6 weeks unpaid leave, before they have to go back to work or lose their jobs.
When does a doula go back to doula-ing after her own birthing time?
My boss offered me a client who had a due date in October. Two and a half months after my own son's birth. I just couldn't fathom that we'd be ready by then and I was right to decline. Now, here we are at Charlie's 5-month birthday and lo and behold... I still don't feel ready. It makes me wonder -- when will I be ready and what constitutes "ready"?
My practical concerns are most easily calculated. Charlie doesn't take a bottle or cup and he's not on solids yet. So he'd, you know, starve. The second factor is that he doesn't sleep through the night, which leaves me not really fully functional the next day. At least, not the high level of functioning that I expect of myself when I work. I'm cool for fingerpainting and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider 19,382 times but not for providing support for a woman at one of the most pivotal moments of her life. To say nothing of the fact that frankly, I feel like I'm barely making it from day to day as it is and there's no way I could deal with being on call, leaving for a day or two, and expecting my husband to handle what I barely can!
The emotional/mental concerns -- now, this is tricky. I know I'm just too close to my birthing experience to detach enough to assist another woman. When I hear friends talking about their births I can't help finding parallels (or... perpendiculars?) with Charlie's birth. I think my birthing experiences are valuable as a doula but I also think that if I can't focus on my client without bringing my own emotions into it -- I'm not being the best doula to her.
I don't know how I'll know when I'm ready -- I just know that right now, I'm not.