I've attended a birth before, but never as an official doula, with training, for someone who is essentially a stranger and all the while trying to balance busy work, life and toddler rearing.
Lucky for me, my client's baby decided to be very good and arrive a day early, on the weekend, days before life was about to get so complicated that I wouldn't have been able to be there for them for three days straight.
The birth was both amazing and difficult. The nurses were mostly wonderful and only one or two truly awful (why do some people go into labour and delivery when they really have no interest or knack for it? I mean, really.) I feel very lucky to have been their doula and got more than a little weepy when the wee man finally made his appearance. It's funny, that really without even knowing a baby or his family doesn't really change how emotional you feel about meeting a new person. I don't know how L&D nurses and docs stay dry-eyed all day. Maybe they don't.
I learned a few things, made a few mistakes and did a few things very right.
But the biggest lesson I learned was that being a doula in anything other than a very temporary capacity right now is not going to work. That makes me sad. But one of the least favorite things about me is my over-promise and under-deliver tendency when it comes to people. As someone's doula, the golden rule is that you get to and stay with a labouring woman from the time she needs you until she delivers. With full time work that, at times, requires me to leave town, a hubby who is supportive but also travels often and a toddler that needs watching (and no family or close friends to help) and well, there just isn't enough flexibility in my life to account for attending labours.
Sad? Yes. But there will come a time that I will be able to do this, and this first birth showed me that yes I can do it and would want to do it in the right situation.
For now, though, we wait.