My husband Neil graduated from nursing school a year after we were married. He then spent the next few months preparing for the Massachusetts board exam for registered nurses. I did my best to support him and encourage him the best I knew how (and this was all years before my doula journey had begun) but was never sure if what I provided him was enough. It was also hard to not be able to do more to help him succeed.
The day of his exam, I went with him. I waited outside the testing room until he was done. When he came out, he had this defeated look on his face. He said to me, “I know I failed.” We got in the car and went home. Despite my attempts to reassure him that he didn’t know for sure that he had failed since test results aren’t posted for a couple of days, he was so sure of it and that never wavered.
I felt helpless. Nothing I said or did seemed to make him feel better.
In this instance in my life, I would have loved to have a doula, not to support my own journey, but to show me the best way to support my husband.
I needed a doula to encourage me to be physically present for Neil during one of his lowest points. Someone to remind me to show him affection, hold his hand and hug him.
I needed a doula to remind me to never stop telling him how proud I was of all that he had done leading up to this, no matter how many times it felt like I was repeating myself. A doula could have encouraged me to be the best emotional support for him, as well as assure me that I was doing exactly what he needed.
I would have loved to have had a doula to remind me and him consistently that we didn’t actually KNOW he had failed. A doula would have reminded us that until we got those results back, we shouldn’t assume anything.
There is a happy ending to this story. Neil passed his boards and did rather well on them.
A doula could have provided me, the partner, with the physical, emotional and informational support in a non-judgmental way so that I didn’t feel so helpless. I’d like to think that what I did provide him in terms of support was enough, but who wouldn’t want that extra encouragement?