Okay so last week I did this post on doulas. Apparently it was a tremendous hit with the [ahem] doulas, if the comments are anything to go by. Of course that could just be my mother-in-law, but I don’t think she knows you can sign in as anybody.
A few of you took issue with my calling doulas crunchy. I don’t think I ever wrote that all doulas were crunchy. But let me take this opportunity to clarify and make one thing explicitly clear: doulas are the crunchiest bunch on the planet. If you all were a cereal, you’d be granola sprinkled onto a big bowl of Cap’n Crunch. If you were a hip-hop band, you’d be Marky Mark and the Crunchy Bunch. You want evidence? Think about it:
Doulas are the only people who can consistently keep their composure in the wake of a deafening fart. Lord knows pregnant women are gassy. A doula may as well be guarding Buckingham Palace for her ability to hold the thousand-yard stare in the face of a fart. There are doulas reading this now who aren’t even laughing, and are like, “What’s so funny? It’s perfectly natural. Why was this forwarded to me?”
Peggy wrote in to commend me on the thematic brilliance of the accompanying illustration. Embarrassingly, I was unable to credit the source, because my wife found the image and she has no use for sources. (Sarah finds most of the blog’s images.) Neither of us had any idea what it represented. Funnily enough, Sarah didn’t much care for the illustration, and instead thought I should go with the uterus plush toy:
Anyway I meant to reply to a bunch of you, but the week got away from me. Let’s just say a lot of women either are in urgent need of soothing vaginal gel-packs, or else they just enjoy typing the words. (The sweetest feedback on the gel-packs came from Melanie, who emailed to say “[t]hey’re a little bit of heaven in my pants.”)
Then yesterday “Kev” left this comment. And rather than maintain radio silence I thought I owed Kev and all of you a response, however hurried. Kev wrote:
Here’s another dad’s perspective, based on our experience talking to doulas:
For all the benefits a doula can bring, some dads (and some moms) don’t respond very well to sales pitches based entirely on the condescending premise that dad will be useless.
Sure, some guys are happy to write blog posts joking about THEIR uselessness. They were told they would be useless and they were okay with that. I wasn’t.
We were left feeling like I was being discouraged from taking an active role in this very important event. We would have liked a sales pitch that assumed that I was at least marginally competent to be present. We felt like they just assumed I’d end up drooling in the corner.
We got the same treatment with wedding planning. How many wedding suppliers asked me why I was involved in the process when all I have to do is show up? We lost count. Didn’t hire any of those people.
If we were shopping for a car and the salesperson said to my wife “I’m surprised to see YOU here, women are useless with cars!” we’d get up and leave.
Thanks for writing. It sounds like you’ve had some unpleasant encounters with people. Please allow me to apologize on behalf of all bloggers, doulas, wedding vendors, and moot car salesmen. (You were kind to use the more politically correct “salesperson.” But in the example you provide, it’s okay to assume the person in question is male.)
It’s probably for the best that you didn’t have a doula’s help during childbirth. (Best for you anyway. I can’t speak for your wife.) But it’s important you know I wasn’t making a “sales pitch.” I am not a doula. Nor do I have arrangements with any doula-related service. I wasn’t trying to sell you on doulas. Rather, I was recommending doulas because they are amazing, yet their services are obscure.
For some blog posts I like to do research. For others I write from an intentionally narrow perspective: my own. This post was written in the latter manner. That is why I solicited corrections in the comments section. On the few occasions this young blog has provoked a stream of comments, the responses are invariably more profound and informed than the original post.
Had you read the many comments that came before yours, you’d’ve gleaned valuable resources and perspectives on a doula’s role during a C-section.* You would also know that doulas eagerly support both parents. Our ultradoula Angie was exceedingly sensitive to the uncertain and magical dynamic of expectant parents. Working within that framework, she even managed to enhance that magic. Like all great doulas, she communicated a feeling of privilege for being included in our birth process. There was never the triangulation you perceived, where the father is boxed out.
Lastly, you can take comfort in the knowledge that I was excitedly involved during the entire birth process, beginning with conception [wink]. That bit about dads being useless was an example of “comedic exaggeration.” Since no one has yet invented a sarcasm font, I rely on my readers to discern between hyperbole and useful commentary.
Please don’t take any of this as angry or attacking. I had been meaning to respond to some of the other commenters, and you provided me an opportunity to cover a lot of ground. And despite my snarky syntax (sorry, can’t help it), you are right that no father should be made to feel superfluous at his child’s birth. I only wish you had better luck finding a doula that was a good match. It would have been worth it.
P.S. Angie was also the only person in the delivery room with the wherewithal to note the exact time of birth. She also took a bunch of priceless pictures, these among them. They always evoke for me the first minutes of Fox’s life, when I was blindsided by the realization that all my hopes and fears were wrapped up in this tiny creature.
* On this topic in particular, special thanks are owed to Cole, Shannon, Sarah, Michele, Kristen, Rosemarie, Tiffany, Barbara, Natalia, Lesley, and Ally, – for graciously saving readers from my ignorance.