A New Kind of Doula

We all need a personal cheerleader, mentor, adopted parent or coach. When I went to graduate school I thought I'd spend my working days in a basement playing with old stuff. I thought that works of art and poetry influenced me the most. It wasn't until the last several years that I began to realize how many people have made an impact on me and that I want to give that care back.

Through fate and circumstance I'm becoming an actual career coach. I help young people figure out what they want to do with their lives. I love the clueless students the most because I am able to watch them grow and mature right before my eyes. I help them learn to hand in their back pack and pick up a briefcase and maybe understand that they're not going to be a CEO overnight. It's empowering to empower others.

I've benefitted from many coaches in my lifetime from the usual suspects- parents, relatives, teachers and bosses to my friends. Sometimes when we're down in the dumps, all we need to hear is, "You're doing good! Keep it up!" Over and over again. Whether it's a 9.3 mile road race or 16 hours of labor, I've never been alone while accomplishing my biggest goals. By friend Kate was my doula during Caroline's birth and she will always be a saint in my life for standing by me through every single contraction and push. It was all new to me and I was tired and scared. It felt less painful because of her constant words of encouragement.

Where am I going with this? Well, I've thought of a new career. A dental doula. I think every tooth in my mouth, including baby, have been worked on by a dentist. Starting in elementary school, I became a frequent visitor to the dentist's office. At least back then they drugged me up and I thought the chair was spinning around and around and the dentist was chasing me. And I got to pick a toy out of the toy chest after the appointment. Then it was the bizarre mouth piece they called braces used to fix my over bite. Every month, I sat in a chair for 30 minutes, staring at some lame framed photo of watercolor flowers, to only have the dentist come in tell me to bite and then respond, "Looking very good." At least it wasn't painful to my teeth even if it painfully depleted my parent's bank account.

Novacain. Drilling. Sweaty palms. That little water sucker spittling up in my face. The eyes staring down at me. The nose hairs. That damn little paper bib. And now, no toy at the end. Instead, I get to pay large bills for the pain I just endured. "Here, Melissa, come on over to the treasure chest and pick out a slip of paper! Maybe, if you're lucky, you'll get that nifty bill for $500 due at the time of services rendered!"

What if I'd had my dental doula beside me for all of these painful, traumatic visits? What if my saint Kate was sitting in a chair behind me, rubbing my shoulders, reminding me to breathe, interpreting what the dentist told me about what s/he was doing to me and would do next?

I didn't need any drugs during labor. Would a dental doula help me have a Novacain-free visit? "That's ok doc, just pull the tooth right out. I'm visualizing that I'm a flower petal. I'll slowly open and accept the pain. What?! Ooouch- that's my stamen you just ripped out of me you bastard!"

My dental doula would bring me a handmade, soft bib to wear and play a CD of motivational music made just for me. She'd wipe my sweaty brow and rub my curling feet. When at home, she'd gather a group of my BFFs to make me special get better shakes and other pureed foods. She'd schedule them to take turns visiting each night that first week to listen sympathetically to my dental story and even ask to see the tooth, if it was a good time for me and the tooth wasn't too crabby.

Dentists would like the doula because they could focus on the work and not even pretend like they are working on another human being with feelings, fears and phobias.

I wonder what kind of salary I could pull in as a dental doula? Any takers?

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