Inspired by this parenting test, I set out to create a doula version. While this is complete parody and all done in good fun, there are some truths about life as a doula that would be good for prospective birth professionals to consider.
Test 1: The On Call Test
Step 1 – Pick a day when you have an important meeting, family gathering, or just a million places to be and a firm deadline.
Step 2 – Drop it all and leave for an unknown number of hours. You have 30 minutes to arrange child care and get all your obligations covered.
Step 3 – Ignore all calls from home begging you to fix the mess you left behind.
Variation: After completing steps 1-3, return home after an hour and tell your family “False Alarm!” They love that, especially since it means it can happen again at any moment.
Test 2: The Sleep Deprivation Test
Step 1 – Ask a friend to randomly call you in the middle of the night, at a time when you least expect it.
Step 2 – Starting from that phone call, remain awake, standing, and completely alert (while at the same time having a relaxing, calm demeanor) for approximately 28 hours.
Step 3 – If the 28 hours ends during the day, return to your life and complete all your normal daily tasks – and catch up from the day before – before getting any sleep. If the 28 hours ends during the night, you may sleep only until your usual daily waking time.
Test 3: The Cell Phone Test
Step 1 – Switch phone to the ON position.
Step 2 – NEVER turn it off.
Step 3 – At all times, keep it within arms reach. Never let your battery die. Never ignore a call or text. Always answer. Doesn’t matter if you are in the shower, arguing with a customer service rep, or having sex. Always answer.
Test 4: Physical Stamina
Step 1 – Stay on your feet for 6 hours, mostly in the same position. Every 2-3 minutes, hang a 50 pound weight from your shoulders while swaying and repeating “That’s it, calm and relaxed. Good.”
Step 2 – Any breaks must be quickly squeezed into the breaks between supporting the weight. You have 60 seconds to run down the hall, empty your bladder, wash your hands and get back.
Step 3 – Choose a new position and repeat the exercise for another 6 hours.
Test 5: Patience
Step 1 – Enlist the help of every pregnant woman you know.
Step 2 – Have them call you at random times around the clock with random pregnancy questions. They don’t have to be urgent questions, in fact for the purposes of this test it is best in the middle of the night questions are along the lines of “My leg hair is growing faster on my right side than my left side! What does this mean?”*
Test 6: Tenacity
Step 1 – Choose a day when you are experiencing the kind of weather that inspires weathermen to use the phrase “…of the century!”
Step 2 – Go out in the middle of it and drive to a birth center or hospital at least 30 miles away.
Test 7: Letting Go
Step 1 – Plan a big fancy milestone birthday party with someone. Make arrangements for food, entertainment, guests, the works. Whatever they want.
Step 2 – Just before the party, learn that the location has been double booked and is no longer available. The caterer has the flu, and the jugglers you booked have dropped the ball. The birthday girl is devastated.
Step 3 – Help her have a good birthday even if it looks nothing like what she wanted.
Variation: Just before the party, the birthday girl changes her mind and decides to go a different direction. Let her change all the plans. Attend the party, be fully supportive of the new party plan, and make it a great experience.
If you pass all these tests, you are ready to be a birth doula!
And once you are a birth doula, you know why it’s all worth is, and how amazing the job is!
* Actual question I got from a client in the middle of the night.