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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would love to hear from birth pros on this, I'm in a quandary.<br><br>
Our doula missed our birth. It was very fast, but she was the first person called, and our midwives made it. In our doula's contract, she states that we get all of our money back if she misses the birth and it's her fault, or half of our money back if she is not contacted or she misses due to unforeseen circumstances. We feel that she should refund half our money because she did some things once she arrived, but not a lot, and she wasn't there while I was laboring, which is what we hired her for.<br><br>
She mentioned refunding us 1/5th of her fee, but the contract is pretty clear. My DH is livid b/c he feels like it was a huge waste of money and he wants the 50%, per her contract. I must say the contract is poorly written and leaves some loopholes, but I don't see how she thinks she can reasonably charge us the full fee.<br><br>
I know that a refund isn't an option that most doulas even offer, so it is nice this one does - I just don't feel like she is honoring her contract.<br><br>
The other problem is that this is a pretty close-knit birthing community. I don't want people to think ill of us, even though I believe we're in the right.<br><br>
I thank you for any insights into this situation.
 

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Hi! Congrats on your new baby!<br><br>
I do not feel like there was enough information included to help you...<br><br>
Like how late was she, where does she live, did she need time to find childcare? Was she at a home visit in the opposite direction? WHat do you know about what happened to make her late...and how fast did you give birth after calling her?<br><br>
Those fast births are a hard call...what does your midwife team think about the situation?
 

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it seems very clear to me that she missed the birth and you should get 1/2 the money back... why is this not clear? is it because she did show up and help out? i would ask her for an explanation and specifically why she isn't offering 1/2 the money when that is how you understood the contract.. fast birth seems to fall under 'unforeseen' ..
 

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Is there a time mentioned in the contract, for how long she can take to get to the birth?
 

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I have a 2 hour window in my contract. That is from the time you state you want me there to I show up. If I fail to be at your birth because I can't make it & I don't provide a back up, then you get a refund. If you birth before I make it *within that window*, you don't get a refund. My window is huge because in the area I live in-I can honestly sit in traffic that long during rush hours.<br><br>
Is her contract stating something similar?
 

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Sounds to me like she should be refunding 1/2 of your $$ too... If your midwives could make it in time and she couldn't- well...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Paige, CPM</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15413106"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Hi! Congrats on your new baby!<br><br>
I do not feel like there was enough information included to help you...<br><br>
Like how late was she, where does she live, did she need time to find childcare? Was she at a home visit in the opposite direction? WHat do you know about what happened to make her late...and how fast did you give birth after calling her?<br><br>
Those fast births are a hard call...what does your midwife team think about the situation?</div>
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She arrived three minutes after he was born, but she had been notified that we were cooking two and a half hours before he arrived. She had childcare already, and was not at a visit - she was at the "market" but I am not sure what she meant by that. We live in a small city, so travel time was not really a problem. My midwife was on the other side of the city when she got the call, and I doubt my doula was any farther away - if she was where I think she was, she was even closer.<br><br>
Thanks for all of the responses - I've been thinking about whether I should ask my midwife's opinion and I think I will, judging from what you all have said. I really don't want any bad feelings, either way. Sigh.
 

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There are a few other things that are not clear--<br><br>
How much time did she give you before the birth? Visits, education, any time giving service to you.<br><br>
Is there anything in her contract that makes a distinction between that ed/support time (prior to birth), her birth support, and postpartum? My contract has a specific refund policy, which names an amount charged per visit (same fee for each prenatal and postpartum visit)--so, if I miss the birth, or they cancel my services at the last minute (prior to labor), a refund calculation is fairly straightforward.<br><br>
I do agree that you are owed a refund of more than 1/5th of her fee. However, maybe it will help if you review such details as how much time she gave you prenatally and in the immediate postpartum period. I also think it is fair to consider that you did have a very fast labor--yes, it does seem that she *should* have made it in time under the circumstances, and yet it can be so hard for a birth professional to guage these things adequately every time (my own contract specifically states 'unusually fast birth' as one 'unforeseen circumstance' under which I still expect to be paid the full fee). So what I am saying is, maybe you could allow a bit of 'give' to your expectation of a 1/2 refund. Maybe 2/5 instead? Or a 45% refund, with her keeping 55%? But only you know how much you paid in total, what services she promised and what services (and time) were actually provided to you....so do what feels right in view of all that, of course.<br><br>
And if your dh is 'livid', then maybe you and him could try to work out the feelings involved before making any specific demands. I mean, I understand feeling disappointed in the way it worked out with the doula, and then feeling angry about her somewhat paltry refund offer. Being angry seems normal to me! However, if the feelings can be reduced to some degree, it may become easier to take a truly fair and honest look at $$ paid, services provided, refund that is fair. I think sometimes our anger in such situations comes from believing that another person is closing out negotiation by stating a bottom line without hearing us out--that they are trying to take control of the situation (control others--and most of us do NOT like being controlled!). But even if someone does try to take control by shutting down negotiation, remember that you 2 don't have to accept that condition. You can simply tell her that her offer is unacceptable, and that further discussion is needed--maybe you can even find a mediator to assist you (my contract also specifically contains a mediation clause for just such difficulties).<br><br>
In any event, congrats on your fast birth and new baby! I hope you can enjoy this time, and find a peaceable way to resolve this conflict.
 

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Another quick question, when you said she knew things were cooking 2.5 hours prior to the birth, did you ask her to come at that point, 2.5 hour prior to the birth or was that a heads-up call to her? From the point that you asked her to come, how long did it take?
 

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I would have expected my doula to be there or leave when I called. I would want at least half back.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MidwifeErika</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15414808"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Another quick question, when you said she knew things were cooking 2.5 hours prior to the birth, did you ask her to come at that point, 2.5 hour prior to the birth or was that a heads-up call to her? From the point that you asked her to come, how long did it take?</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that"><br><br>
and, to me it sounds like she was actually there for "the birth" as in, when she arrived the baby was on its way out, but not in your arms yet. If this is the case, and given your short labor, I'd say she deserves the entire fee, for the prenatals, education, going on-call, actually showing up and not ditching you(she could have not showed up, but in this case it sounds like she got there, but you just happened to labor very quickly, though her contract wording sounds like the fast birth was an "unforeseen circumstance" though, if she came before the baby was out, I would pay her for her trouble(being on call, and actually coming)), and for the postpartum visits that follow the birth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Amatullah0</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15414855"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that"><br><br>
and, to me it sounds like she was actually there for "the birth" as in, when she arrived the baby was on its way out, but not in your arms yet. If this is the case, and given your short labor, I'd say she deserves the entire fee, for the prenatals, education, going on-call, actually showing up and not ditching you(she could have not showed up, but in this case it sounds like she got there, but you just happened to labor very quickly, though her contract wording sounds like the fast birth was an "unforeseen circumstance" though, if she came before the baby was out, I would pay her for her trouble(being on call, and actually coming)), and for the postpartum visits that follow the birth.</div>
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He was in my arms when she arrived. She was there when I birthed the placenta <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
She did one prenatal visit and one post-natal of maybe 1-1.5 hrs each... her contract really needs to be re-written because there is so much it doesn't cover. She didn't do much in the way of education - this was my second home water birth with these midwives.<br><br>
I am not sure how to get DH to calm down about this. I am not mad, just frustrated that she doesn't seem to be honoring her contract, but I would be happy with something less than half, but more than the 1/5th she offered. I would even grudgingly accept the 1/5th, but I would definitely come away with bad feelings, and I wouldn't be able to recommend her to others.<br><br>
As MrsBlack mentioned, it would be great if we could look at an hourly rate and figure out something from there.<br><br>
In her contract, she asks for 30 minutes' notice, and we first called about 9 that morning, so she had her notice. I'm not sure when DH called her to come - I'd have to say maybe 11:15ish, but that was about the time that I went to laborland. I know he called her before my midwife, and he had to call the midwife twice and finally got her at 11:21. She doesn't state a 'travel time' beyond just wanting 30 minutes' notice.<br><br>
I do appreciate that she was on call and made the effort to get here - maybe that is why I don't have anger about it. I just want DH to be okay with the outcome b/c I have to live with the fallout. I think a lot of his anger stems from the fact that he is the only income-earner and he feels like we're being ripped off to some degree.<br><br>
I hope I answered all the questions. This little guy is much easier than his big brother was at this age, but the broken sleep is still making me a bit foggy.
 

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Heads up at 9am, call to come at 11:15ish...two very different things...what time did you give birth at? The time of birth is very important to know...<br><br>
How exactly did the conversation go...can you come right now or can you head over soon or you might want to think about coming soon? Ask what your husband said exactly to her...
 

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I was very disappointed that my doula nearly missed my birth, I really needed her. It was my first baby, a hospital birth, and I was just transferred to OB care because of pre eclampsia and I went early while my midwife was on vacation, not to mention I was being horribly mistreated by hospital staff. My dh had called her early in the morning, around 6 am, but she couldn't get childcare and had to get her kids on the bus first and then drop off her youngest at the sitter, then drive 40 mins to get here. So, my ds was born at 9:42 am and she got here shortly before 9:30, I was just about to start pushing. I wasn't angry, just disappointed. But the difference she made in those 15 minutes was tremendous- she immediately had the lights somewhat dimmed, some music on, and a vanilla candle in the corner and was offering much needed encouragement, taking pictures (I didn't even notice) and massaging me. I didn't expect her to take any $ off but she took off $80 and gave me the photos for free (they were professional quality). Plus she was excellent breastfeeding support and her prenatal visits while I was on bedrest were so appreciated.
 

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Just out of curiosity, have you talked to your doula about it at all? What reason is she giving you for offering the "discount"? It sounds like she feels bad about missing the birth, but maybe that it wasn't exactly her fault, which is why she's offering the reduction. What did she say about it in the postpartum visit? I know it would be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but if she's a professional, she should be able to offer a reasonable explanation for being late/and or changing the contract. Possible ways to bring it up:<br><br>
"We were so sad you missed the birth, we were so looking forward to your support. But in light of that, we were wondering how the fee would be adjusted? *husband* called you and asked you to come at 1115, so we were surprised you couldn't get here. According to the contract, it looks like we owe you 1/2 of your fee. We don't want to disregard your pre and post natal visits, but we agreed by signing this contract to this price. Is that ok with you?"
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>cileag</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15417510"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">"We were so sad you missed the birth, we were so looking forward to your support. But in light of that, we were wondering how the fee would be adjusted? *husband* called you and asked you to come at 1115, so we were surprised you couldn't get here. According to the contract, it looks like we owe you 1/2 of your fee. We don't want to disregard your pre and post natal visits, but we agreed by signing this contract to this price. Is that ok with you?"</div>
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I think cileag's wording is right on the mark. Her contract leaves a lot of room and by its wording it seems that the birth itself if "worth" (at least $ wise) half of the contracted price. Meaning anything besides the birth would fall under the other 1/2 (pre/post natal support,education,checks)<br><br>
Honestly though if your DH called around 9am I would *think* that as a birth professional she would be ready to basically drop everything and either call to see to come over or go over. After all she stated in her contract that she needs a 30 minute window, I think by calling at 9 and then agaoin at 11ish that that portion of the contract was also fufilled.
 

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As a doula, if I failed to make it to a family within a reasonable amount of time and missed their birth as a result, I wouldn't argue at all when they asked for a 50% refund.
 

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I don't think you asking for a 50% refund is unreasonable at all. With my last birth I ended up with a pre-term c-section due to transverse/breech presentation. My doula was supposed to help me with a VBAC. We agreed in the end that she would not attend the birth as I had a c-section before and was not scared or worried about it. She offered to refund half her fee and I accepted. She still did visit after I had DS, which was nice. She also offered her post-natal visit, but I didn't really need it as DS was in the NICU for meningitis and when he got home we were doing pretty good. I have always thought her offering to refund half the fee was very professional.
 

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From what I am putting together here, it looks like the baby came only about 30 minutes after you called the doula and asked her to come and about 2 1/2 hours after a heads up call. I have to say, only 30 minutes from the time she was asked to come is pretty darn fast and I would not say that was her fault. To me, that is a completely reasonable travel time.
 

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If the contract states she needs 30 min notice, the call at 9am isn't notice, IMO. The call in which she is asked to come is her notice. If she arrived within 30 min of that phone call, I don't think you're entitled to a partial refund.<br><br>
I am wondering though... Why did you guys not have her come earlier in labor? If a doula is supposed to be labor support, wouldn't you ask her to come at the first call so she could support your labor? Curious more than anything...
 
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