As a birth doula I am usually on-call from 38 weeks gestation until whenever baby arrives. Being on-call involves being ready, at any time of the day or night, to drop everything to go and be with a woman through labour and birth. This is the commitment I make to my clients but this is what happens behind the scenes....
I'm still here, she didn't call me.
Wait.... did she call me?
[check phone to make sure no missed calls or messages]
Phew. She didn't call.
[Adjust ringer volume and check again for missed calls or messages]
Child: What are we doing today, mum?
Me: Well, that depends... If I get called out... [what follows is a detailed run down of what will happen in any eventuality should I get called out... or not.... whatever the case may be]
PANIC! Where did I put my phone?????
[finds phone, checks for missed calls or messages]
No missed calls. Panic over.
I haven't heard from [client] today. I hope she's okay.
Should I call her? No. She'll think I'm stalking her and besides which, she's probably got every man and his dog messaging her asking if baby's arrived yet! I'll leave her in peace....
.....but what if she needs me but doesn't feel she can call me? I'd better just pop her a quick message.
Message: Hi! Hope you're ok x Just checking in, you know where I am if you need me ;-)
[10 minutes later - no response]
Oh my god. Is she in labour? I hope she's ok... Should I call? No. That definitely IS stalker behaviour! She probably just has her phone on silent or is taking a nap. She's fine. Pull yourself together, Becki - it's not like this is the first time you've been on call!
Message: Hi Becki! All good here x No sign of little madam yet and I have you on speed dial!!! x
Phew. She's fine.
[negotiating visit to the family today] Maybe we should go in two cars in case I get called out and need to leave? My bag is packed and already in my car. Oooh, better just check the fuel gauge, might need to pop to the garage.
Was that my phone? Where did I put it? PANIC!
Here it is. No missed calls.
[double check for any messages and increase ringer volume again]
Me: Good night darling [kiss]
Child: Night night, Mummy, love you [kiss]
Me: Love you too, sweetheart. Don't forget, I might not be here in the morning and if not, Daddy will be taking you to school... I think... if not it might be your sister that takes you. Ok?
Child: Ok. Where will you be?
Me: I told you, I'm waiting for my lady's baby to arrive.
Child: When will that be?
Me: We don't know, honey, but it will be in the next few weeks for sure. Good night x
[get into bed with hubby]
Me: Are you at home tomorrow?
Hubby: No, I have an appointment in Birmingham.
Me: So, if I get called out in the night, are you able to take the boy to school in the morning?
Hubby: No, I'll be leaving about 6.
Me: I'll text Grace.
[rapidly text the teenager upstairs to prepare her for school drop off in the morning]
Me: So when will you be home?
Hubby: Around tea time.
Me: So you won't be home for school pick up?
Me: And you're not here to look after Abi all day?
Me: Ok [quietly panicking inside my head]
[Text grandparents to see if they are available tomorrow. Text teenager about school pick up]
Ok. Think I'm sorted for most eventualities now.
Last minute checks before bed:
1. Clothes in the bathroom ready for a quick getaway in the night
2. Phone on loud ringer
3. Doula bag packed and in car
4. Childcare sorted
5. Dog.....SHIT! Who's going to walk the bloody dog????