Kristina Kruzan recently asked me how my transition to monitrice-doula service was going. For those that don’t know, I closed my homebirth midwifery practice on January 1, 2011 to concentrate on attending to women birthing in the hospital. While several factors converged to bring me to that point, some of which won’t be revealed until Zack hits PUBLISH after I die, I believe I was moving that way anyway. Even if I might not have gotten there so soon, today, I am ecstatic to be here. Any road I traversed to get to this place… even the ugly, shitty, dirty and icy ones… have been more than worth it.
As a monitrice-doula, I get to use the very best of my birth-related skills. I utilize my midwifery skills and knowledge as a monitrice and tap into my many years of birth experience as a doula. Each birth… home, hospital and birth center… has layered on top of each other to bring me to this place of delighted service. I wouldn’t trade one birth I’ve attended, even the ones that have scared the crap out of me.
My life as a monitrice-doula is infinitely brighter! Even as I loved doing homebirth midwifery, this is totally different. I have turned from the 1% who birth at home to the 99% who birth in the hospital. I have a great deal more freedom than I had as a midwife. I have a lot more time to write. I am far less stressed for several reasons, including not being the one to make the life and death decisions except in a very small window of monitrice time… interacting with a whole different group of birthy women… feeling very positive about my "job" and what I'm doing to serve women who, in the homebirth community, are rarely reached… being able to utilize the very best of my skills as a midwife, doula and woman… and while the time at labors and births is about the same, the prep and post time is much shorter, which (going 'round again!) gives me much more time to write!
The homebirth community is, in many ways, saturated with information, midwives and attention. Even doulas are turning away from hospital births to focus on women birthing at home. The 1% of women birthing at home have no problem finding support and information. Those 1% of women are pretty darn clear about their options and, for the most part, able to verbalize their choices. I never had to explain why a woman might not want her membranes ruptured routinely to a homebirth client; it’s a common discussion with hospital clients. I never had a homebirth client who read “What to Expect” during the homebirth planning stages; she might have read it in a previous pregnancy or even before she changed to a homebirth, but she’d quickly disposed of it once she moved into the homebirth arena. My hospital birthing clients, however, are reading the book (before I’m hired) and in some cases, it is the only book they’ve read during the pregnancy.
I feel more useful as a monitrice-doula. As a midwife, the ever-present message was “Don’t do anything unless there’s an emergency.” And as a midwife, that was the right thing to do. As a monitrice-doula, I am able to share/give my decades of experience to women/families who might not otherwise have had access to a more natural and baby-friendly ideas. While I’m hired to help women through labor and birth, I come with a Santa Clause-sized bag filled with remedies, hints and shortcuts for living with the new baby. Who knew being a grandma would be this much fun!?
I’ve only been doula-ing the past couple of months due to my midwifery license renewal notice going to my old house and my being late sending the fee in (eek!), but I look forward to ramping up the monitrice part again once the Medical Board processes the renewal. (They say it can take up to 8 weeks!) Even when I'm "just" doing doula work, I feel so alive and joy-filled. I really was meant for this aspect of birth work.
It's been great getting to know the different nurses around the county and learning the nuances of each of the hospitals. It's wonderful being a part of the team and not having every word or action treated as a potential threat to their knowledge and skill. Even under the best of circumstances, being a midwife with a transferred client could be challenging if you didn't have the right doctor or nurse. This is different. I am much more relaxed and am able to connect with my clients, the nurses and even the doctors in a way I couldn't as a homebirth midwife.
I've heard from other midwives considering monitrice-doula work, either part-time or full-time and I encourage you to explore the idea, especially if you enjoy working in the hospital. For many reading this, there could be no worse torture than attending births in the hospital, but for those of us who are energized by the different vibe and aren't disgusted or intimidated by the technology, monitrice-doula work can be so rewarding. I'm learning that first-hand. How lucky am I?!