My almost 10 month old daughter has begun to eat enough solid foods that her poops are no longer nearly liquid; they have enough substance that they need some effort to push out. She's fairly distressed by this, and has begun to work with her bowel movements in a pretty obvious fashion.
This morning I woke up to what I thought was her usual morning gymnastics, today accompanied by an unusual fussiness. I tried to soothe her in the usual ways, but it wasn't until I smelled that unmistakable scent that I realized the true reason for her actions. So.. I stopped trying to bring her down to nurse, and let her move as she needed to. I held her comfortingly when she found an effective position; I rubbed her back and spoke to her in a low, encouraging voice. And about the time I realized why she'd been more wiggly than usual overnight, I also realized that I'd been her doula.
While my daughter isn't yet walking, she's adept at kneeling and standing supported, but this morning she was choosing to remain in all-fours positions. She finally settled with her head on my shoulder, knees on the bed, comforted by my heartbeat as she sang her birth song and gave her final pushes. Her labor over, she collapsed in my arms, exhausted with the effort and blissful in relaxation. As she snoozed, I reflected that I'd just been doing what felt right, giving my daughter what she needed through motherly instinct, but then I also understood that that's how I work as a doula, and that I had done for her exactly the things I'd do for a woman in childbirth. I truly understood what it means to 'mother the mother'.
Of course, I won't be soothing my clients into a postpartum rest with my milk, but you can only carry a metaphor so far, right?