Taking a Vacation as a Doula Dilemma

This is a tricky thing.  Our family seems to go on a vacation every 3 months.  In some ways it is great, but in some ways it is exhuasting.  As a doula it is very very challenging.

Right now I pretty much only doula my Hypnobabies Students.  With 3 small boys, I don’t want to have more than 1 or 2 doula clients a month, so this works really well.  Except when I have a couple that I just really love and they want me as their doula and their “guess date” range falls during a vacation.

This has happened a few times now.  I find it hard to say no, because I really want to be there and they really want ME.   So I usually suggest they hire someone else, but a few times I have agreed to be their doula and I find back up doulas for them and they are VERY aware that I may not be there.

It is stressful for me and I imagine for them as well.   So far I have made it to 1 of those 4 births.  Not great odds.  But the one I made it to was wonderful and I wish I had made it to the other 3 as well.  Actually if this one baby stays in for 10 more days until I get home from this trip, then maybe it will be 2 of 4.

Anyway, here I sit in my van on our road trip up to our annual ski trip, driving away from a birth I would love to be at.  But driving to family and happy memories to be made.  It is a dilemma.  If I wasn’t a teacher who loves her students it wouldn’t be so hard.  If someone calls who I don’t know,  I just refer them to another doula.  I have great doulas I work with.  I feel like they are my friends by the end of class and I just can’t say no, if they really understand the fact that I may not be there AND they still want me.  I also in 2 of the cases was going to charge a very reduced rate or bater for services.  They couldn’t afford a normal doula anyway.

I don’t know… any advice?  What do you other doulas do?  I partly would like to cut back on our vacations, but that probably isn’t going to happen, as my DH works so much, it is really the only time the boys get to SEE him for extended periods of time.

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4 thoughts on “Taking a Vacation as a Doula Dilemma”

  1. Sheridan… I’m not a doula, as you know. But I understand the whole “kids not seeing their dad” thing. I work nights. My husband works days. For two years (’05-’07), my husband also went to graduate school full time in addition to working full time. We did exactly what you do – frequent mini vacations.

    Here’s my take… and this is only my opinion… this is my if-I-woke-up-tomorrow-in-your-shoes response about how I personally would feel…

    You are the mother of small boys. This is your season to be a mother. Your little boys need to feel those close knit family ties and that is exactly what you are providing them with. As they get older, are their memories going to be of mom constantly going off to the next birth and canceling the vacations? Or are they going to have some fabulous memories of time spent together? It’s not all or nothing. You can try to balance the two and I think your plan to do exactly what you are doing is great… to let your clients know up front that you might not be available and to help them find a back up. I think that the fact that you are even asking the questions speaks volumes.

    We moms are always being pulled in 8 different directions. Sometimes it’s so hard to know what just the right thing is. But the things you do and the decisions you make will mold your family’s cohesiveness and memories. If you think about it from that standpoint, perhaps it will be easier to decide and you’ll make the right decision, whatever that may be for your family!

    Have fun skiing!!

  2. Here’s an “outside of the box” answer–what about vacations at home? If your husband really wants to take a vacation, then that’s understandable; but what about just staying home? You can spend some family time at home instead of traveling here, there, and everywhere. Then if you do get a doula call, you can just slip out for the day or night, and come back to the “vacation” when you’re done.


  3. I was also going to suggest taking a vacation at home. I know where I live there are many things I always forget we could do as a day trip. Maybe alternate every 3 months, do an away vacation and next a home vacation.

    It’s a tough choice!!! When I was celebrating Christmas at my mother’s house 200 miles away from home, I got a call from a client and my backup was nowhere to be found! What could I do but drive back? Fortunately my kids had so much family around that I was hardly missed.

  4. This is something I struggle with as well.

    Most of the time what I do is similar to what you do – I let my clients know before they hire me that I have vacation planned during their oncall time and if they go into labor during that time, they will get my back-up. Then they have the option to either hire another doula (which sometimes happens) or hire me, knowing they may get my backup. Two times that we went away, my backup did the birth – the first one, my client called me as we were leaving, and it was SO hard driving away, knowing that she was in labor and that I wasn’t going to be there.

    One thing different that we did last year is that we scheduled a mini-vacation in November for 4 days about 90 minutes away from the hospital, and I chose not to have someone back me up while I was gone. My family knew that there was a chance I could be gone for part of the vacation, and we took 2 cars down. And my client DID go into labor while we were gone, on the last full day that we were there. My husband and kids stayed one extra day, and they were ok with having Special Time With Dad for that one day. I would not want to do all our vacations that way though!

    But I (and my family!) also need vacations when I know I am not on call and I can enjoy the time, knowing I won’t be called away. But that doesn’t stop me from worrying What If a client goes into labor and I miss the birth.

    And I just tell myself that if I am meant to be there, I will be there. And if my backup is there, maybe it’s because she’s going to bring something to that birth that I wouldn’t have brought.

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