One of the many hats I currently wear is helper to my disabled uncle.
Before I was born, he was in a near fatal car accident that left him in a five month coma. When he woke up, he was told he would never walk or talk again…but he did. My uncle is a fighter (in every sense of the word!). I never knew him any other way, and I think his sign board (a square paper with small squares for each letter allowing him to spell out what he wants to say) is one of the main reasons I learned to read so quickly as a child.
I started helping out with him in October 2008, when my grandma got sick. My aunt was taking care of him then, but grandma needed full time care and there was just no way she could do both, parent her son, and run a business all at the same time. It seemed only right that I grew up a bit and took on some family responsibility. I was almost eight months pregnant the first time I walked into G’s home.
We fumbled along at first, not really having seen each other very much over the past couple of years. Slowly, we found our rhythm and danced along. We’ve developed a mutual respect and trust for each other. I am his friend, confidante, adviser, chauffeur, banker, and more. Sometimes we argue, but that usually ends in giggles and apologies.
Recently, I found myself overcome with empathy for a man who has triumphed so much in his life, who at times behaves like a child, who is starting to ail like a person whose body was ravaged years ago and still hasn’t recovered. I laid my hands on his crooked back and sent him all the loving, healing energy I could. I talked him through a position change that was uncomfortable for him and assured him that I was right there if he needed me.
It was in that moment that I realized my “doula-ing” isn’t just for birthing women, even though that is where my passion lies. Many of the skills, feelings, etc. I bring to the labor room are the same skills I use in my everyday life. I guess that is what people mean when they refer to having a doula or midwife’s heart.