The reason for back-ups
Doulas hold ourselves to a high standard. Once a mother has hired us, we're on call 24/7 from the time she is "term" (37 weeks along) to the time of the birth. And once labor starts, we're there for the duration.
But we're doing this in a mortal body. We can get sick. This past January was not my friend. One minor health snafu after another came and landed on my doorstep, including a fall on that infamous Minnesota ice. The last was chest pain that turned out to be easily treated -- embarrassingly enough, with a laxative. Call me humiliated. The bottom line was that in January my new middle name was "sidelined."
And -- our friends and relatives are mortals, too. They die, and we must attend their funerals.
Our own life events are the reasons for back-up, the reasons for blacking out unavailable times in our calendars. We have high regard for the mothers and families we serve. Few things ring our chimes more than being there, contraction by contraction (or "wave by wave," to use the Hypnobirthing parlance), supporting that mother through this process.
We have to love it so much that we want to bring our best to these births.
That's why we arrange for back-up. Ideally, we put our back-up doula on board right at the time that the mother hires us.
I work with a close circle of just a few doulas, women whose work I know and trust. I get a commitment from one of them at the time of hiring. Once the mother is in labor, I inform the back-up so that: 1) she knows to be "on call" in case I need a break during a long labor, and 2) she can free up that spot in her calendar. My back-up circle does the same for me.
This approach keeps a level of sanity in the system. In January, when I was sidelined, I saw living proof for the need for that system.
February is a new month. It started with a lovely birth. I am ready for more new, lovely births. But I will always look over my shoulder and make sure that my back-up is at the ready.