The Off-Call Life | Grand Rapids Doula + Birth Photographer

I’ve been ON-call for a dozen wonderful families since mid-February (except for a few unexpected days here and there). And now I’m in the middle of a month OFF-call for some planned vacation time. To give you a taste of what it’s like to be ON-call, here is a list of things I do when I’m OFF-call. Besides the obvious: going on vacation! ;-)

1. That little switch on my phone is flicked to SILENT! My phone no longer rings and embarrasses my husband during church, disrupts every conversation I have, or dings during massages and Cranio Sacral Therapy with Kelly Pahman!

Kelly Pahman at St Brigid's Craniosacral Therapy CST

2. I leave my phone outside my room while I sleep, upstairs while I spend the afternoon painting my kitchen, and inside when I go outside with my daughter. FREEDOMMMM!

3. YES, I will watch an extra episode of Queer Eye at midnight, cause I know my night won’t get cut short.

4. I have already twice let the gas in my car go down muchhhhhh lower than it ever should. CAUSE I CAN.

gas light at zero

5. I am wearing my favorite essential oil blend! I don’t wear it when I’m on-call to minimize smells for laboring mamas.

6. On a whim, I can drive to my fave beach where the reception sucks. And I won’t be worried.

My 19 month-old daughter at the beach with her grandpa on a recent family vacation to Northern Michigan.

My 19 month-old daughter at the beach with her grandpa on a recent family vacation to Northern Michigan.

7. Are there garlic-free leftovers in the fridge I can quickly wolf down at any point? Do we have granola bars? Ripe bananas? IT DOESN’T MATTER!

8. I don’t need to know who can last minute watch my daughter on days my husband is not home. It’s amazing how much additional brain space is available not having to think about that.

9. The following sentence hasn’t come out of my mouth this month: “I’d love to come! As long as I don’t get called to a birth.”

10. I don’t think about whether or not my camera batteries are charged or whether there is space on my SD cards. Let that camera battery die! (ALSO, I’m still relishing new camera bliss!!! The top is my new babayyyy, the Sony A7iii, and the bottom is my backup camera, a Nikon D750. Both amazinggg for birth.)

camera gear

These off-call activities may not seem like a big deal, but being on-call truly does change the rhythm of life for those of us who do birth work. It is part of the gig, and most of us become accustomed to it. But it is definitely one of the hardest parts, and it is a difficult thing to fairly charge for/monetize. When I have breaks from being on-call, I am thankful that I can be less tied to my phone and more present. I’m sure many doulas, birth photographers, and midwives can agree that these are the sacrifices we make to do the work we feel called to!