You can't disappoint me. I've met birth's many facets: the ones that glow and the deep, dark ones; the ones that sigh and those that growl; the high points and the shatterings. And you know what? I've often met them in the same birthing room. We'll meet them and many more, together, in yours.
You can't make me laugh. Unless we're chatting about Fry and Laurie, there's not much you can tell me that I'll find silly, or trivial: certainly nothing about your hopes, fears or feelings leading up to, during or after birth. Your emotions are important and by their very nature valid. I'll take them seriously.
You can't gross me out. I'm simply too well acquainted with blood, poo and vomit to even blink at yours. I've seen so many pregnant, birthing and postpartum bodies, each one as unique and glorious as the next, that airbrushed model mums and glamourised movie births seem downright weird to me.
You can't offend me with honest feedback. I'm a pretty good listener and observer, but I'm not a mind reader and every birth, every parent, is unique. I'm learning each day about how to be a better doula, so one of the best things I can hear from you is, "That thing you're doing? It's not working for me." Your birth is yours: if you need me to sit in the hallway for a few hours because you need space, that's fine by me.
You can't be irrelevant, and neither can your birth. You aren't 'just the dad/partner/adoptive parent'. Your path into parenthood is profound and challenging, and part of my role as a doula is to support you as you walk it, however much involvement you plan to have in the birth process. Similarly, every kind of birth deserves support: I can be with you through caesarean birth, adoptive birth, surrogate birth, premature birth, stillbirth, miscarriage or termination.
You can't stump me (unless it's maths-related). I am connected with a host of other doulas and health professionals throughout the country, so if I don't have the information you need, I can usually track it down (though it's still very important to have a frank discussion with your midwife or obstetrician). Likewise, if there's a service out there that would be helpful for you, I can probably find it.
You can't alarm me. I've heard countless normal, loving new parents utter words they never thought to hear themselves say. I've learned to listen beneath those words for the feelings—overwhelm, worry, fatigue, or occasionally depression, anxiety or trauma—and to never, ever take them out of context. If I'm concerned about you or your baby, I'll let you know, and I'll get you connected with support.
You can't hide behind me. I can't speak on your behalf, or 'protect' you from caregivers or family members you don't see eye to eye with. But I can facilitate communication, remind you of your options and preferences, contribute to an environment where you feel calm and centred, and work with you to connect with your own power and resolve. I can, and will, see what an amazing job you're doing, even when you can't.
You can't get the answer you most want out of me. And that is, you guessed it, "What exactly will happen in my birth?" I can tell you about some common experiences in particular birth situations or environments, but I can't predict your unique, internal responses. I can give you information about physiology, hormones, risks, benefits and correlations, but I can't guarantee any particular outcome or time frame. I can help you unearth strategies, and show you some new ones to cope with a whole range experiences, including those you aren't prepared for!