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The Aftermath of Being a Birth Keeper

Being a doula and birth photographer comes with many perks and joy. Supporting women and men during their transition into parenthood is truly amazing and rewarding in itself. Often, I leave the birth space on what we, birth keepers, call birth high, because mom and dad get an adrenaline and oxytocin dose, but we do too. I also think I suffer from ‘the Mary Poppins syndrome’ because, as much as I recognize that I do not belong to the family I am supporting, I do wish I could stay with them forever and watch their magnificent Bab(its) grow up.
Leaving a birth can be brutal, because despite the miracle we have just witnessed, life outside of the birth tub goes on and quite fast too. Getting in the car and sitting in traffic are almost a gentle way to reset the mind into the every day reality; most of birth workers have a family and more responsibilities to go back to, right after a birth. Personally, I look forward to hugging my three children and my husband. If it’s not the middle of the night, I find them waiting for me with cheers and kisses, but as much as they would want me to sleep and eat and rest, often it is not possible. Here is a set of pictures of the reality awaiting for me when I returned from a birth a couple of months ago:
 

 
 
 
 

 Not pictured are two school aged children bawling tears of desperation because I had not done laundry for two days. Yes, indeed. I should have left the laboring mama and excuse myself for a couple of hours to go home and attend to never ending pile of laundry. Never mind the fact that nobody in the house had the urgency to stick few clothing items in the laundry and push the start button.

Thank goodness for the dose of oxytocin we carry with us after a birth, because that and only that is the mere force of energy that make us push through out the day and last without yet having slept until the evening. So being a birth keeper is not all sunshine and roses and although the fee we ask to be paid might seem steep, it’s very little considering that not only we are on call 24/7 for basically a month straight in the case a baby’s arrival goes two week past his/her EDD ( which is often), but we might end up spending 48 hours supporting a laboring family, away from our own and basically putting our life on hold.
I would not change this work for another. In fact, I did have a different job and dropped it for this one! Witnessing life being born is at the same time the most amazing, yet emotionally charging experience one could possibly have, besides giving birth in itself.