Tuesday, March 14, 2017

As the calendar fills...

Sounds like some crazy soap opera title, doesn't it?

The planner here is filling in...vet trips to finish up, dental visits for everyone, schooling for the kids, planning some field trips, my own schooling between herbal classes, CPR/First certifying, doula certifications, a couple of clients to work with, a much-needed Doula retreat weekend coming up (and a detour coming home to visit with the menfolk at their job)...the calendar fills with colored notes and I get an anxious feeling. Not necessarily a bad one, but not always a comforting one.

I must admit, I have my doubts as to if I truly want to do any of this some days. I miss our old days here. Simple Living isn't easy, and it's definitely busy, but it's family. I don't feel that when I'm away from home forging new roads and the like. I miss it. We aren't that Plain and Simple family that we once were. The dresses-only and head coverings are all but fully replaced with skirts and modest shirts now. Honestly, in this new direction of doula and such, I don't believe there would be any work for me dressed in my Plain clothes. I know from far too much past experience I would not see acceptance from the Amish and Mennonite community, and I certainly wouldn't find clients in the rest of local society dressed that way.  For me, the dress change, the doula work...none of this works to make me a better 'fit' with my community. It actually appears to be isolating me more than I already was.

And you know me, the second guessing starts creeping in with all of this and I wonder if it's worth any of the effort. Of course as soon as that happens I start seeing validation totally supporting those doubts in my mind.

I recently shared online in a couple of groups that I was feeling a bit lost at connecting with any local doulas. Reading so many groups, I've seen what is apparently a culture of 'competition' among a lot of doulas. Sadly, it's quite a universal thread that runs among every area. There are some who are resistant to those coming in, some resistant to those in bordering areas where they themselves serve, some have already formed "associations" or co-ops and don't feel they need to extend a connection to anyone outside that. One of the biggest themes I've seen and had pointed out to me is that there are apparently some certifying organizations that outright shun anyone from a different certifying background. Dare to say you aren't charging a fee and you can almost hear the torches and pitchforks being gathered on some groups.

What is wrong with these themes? It appears that doula services are considered quite boutique and exclusive in a lot of areas. Those who believe in charging the full fee acceptable in the area are often (no, of course not always...) quite vocal against those who are willing to charge less, or brazen enough to offer free services. It just as often runs the opposite with those offering free services being outspoken against those who refuse even a sliding scale approach.

Doesn't every woman who wants a doula deserve a doula? Does it...should it...even matter if there are doulas offering free services and doulas charging the full amount in the same area?

Apparently it does matter to a lot of people. There have been downright heated and nasty arguments online over one sharing their website and being torn apart for not charging as much as others in the same area. Some will band together with their sliding scale or free services and attack those who are charging high end fees. I'm not talking adults sharing opinions, I'm talking outright ugly comments about the opposite opinion.

Yes, I posted something about having trouble making connections locally with the existing doula community. It's not that there's in-fighting here, I was just extending some 'feelers' and not getting a response. Apparently that got around and several have since messaged a hello, even suggested a new client to me.  Of course I feel like the idiot cousin now.

And it fuels those second guessing moments.

Still, I'm hardly a shrinking violet type. If I make connections that would be great. I would love to have a relationship, share some networking, etc with fellow area birthworkers here. We have so many moms in need in this state, especially I would think, in my northern area. There is room for many more doulas.

That aside, I keep moving forward

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A New Journey for 2017

I am not a New Years Resolution kind of person.
I know...probably a good thing since it's halfway thru January, right?

To me, there isn't much more to that whole scenario than flipping a calendar page. If you can resolve to begin :insert choice here: as the new year starts, you can resolve to begin it anytime. The calendar doesn't make it or break it.

That said, over the past many months I have been looking ahead to some things around here. I have dreams I'd like to pursue. Truly my entire adult life has been mom and wife. That is a huge calling and I wouldn't trade it for a thing. Still, the Proverbs 31 wife had other things in her life as well. Not things that were oppositional to her first calling of wife and motherhood, but things that connected her to her community, and in many ways, more deeply with her family.

She had vision and when pursued, that vision worked with her Godly calling and not against it.

God doesn't expect a woman to sit idly by as a wife and mother alone. No, I haven't changed my long-held beliefs that a career is now somehow right for wives/mothers. I fully believe a mother belongs at home tending to the needs of her household and her family. Everything else takes a spot much farther down the list of priorities. 

Our family dynamics have changed some as the children have grown older. I still have 4 at home full-time schooling. One will be finishing her school adventures back north with her sister, no doubt planning to pick up with the veterinary skills her sister has. This past year I have dug deeper into my herbal studies and felt I wanted to do more. I was looking at a few directions when something came to my attention. The minute it was in my head, I knew what I wanted to pursue.

Doula is a Greek word meaning woman's servant. This may play out in several ways, but one traditional form has always been as a mother's pregnancy and child-birth mentor. A doula is often a trained, experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and practical support, encouragement, information and resources to the pregnant mother, the laboring mother, even the postpartum mother, as well as her family. She is not there to share medical advice, but can direct you to the resources and information you need to be able to make the most informed choices for yourself and your family's needs during pregnancy and in the weeks immediately following birth. Studies have shown that when a doula attends birth, labors are often shorter and have fewer complications or interventions, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more eaily.

I have always had a passion for pregnancy and child-birth. I mean, hello...10 pregnancies here :-)  I have had great birth experiences, I have had upsetting birth experiences. I have had natural births, caesarean sections, medicated births. I have nit-picked my doctors to no end, and had many a labor & delivery nurse bite their tongue when dealing with my non-compliant self. I have interviewed OBs and dismissed those I could not find common ground with a birth plan we could both agree on.

I am not certain what services my local area have, but I know we have lower income, often left-behind mothers, even teen mothers, who go thru their pregnancy without any real information because they have no idea what to ask, what they should do or how to go about doing it, what their rights as women even are.  Some, a great many I'd venture, have virtually no real support during pregnancy, let alone their labor or even postpartum time. Sure, they may have an aunt or mother who has had a baby or two, but often their experience was the same...no one really explaied to them what to expect and how to deal with everything that comes with pregnancy, delivery, and a new baby in the family.

I believe I can do that.

I believe it needs to be done.  The medical community all too often leaves out information and education. Lack of time, a perceived lack of interest perhaps, lacking system protocols...any number of reasons. Do you know why you should boil the water for infant formula? Women are told just buy "nursery water" and use it. The formula powder is what requires the boiling water, not so much to sterilize your bottles but to sterilize your actual formula.

Don't even get me started on the need for breastfeeding support and the need for hospitals to stop overstepping boundaries by offering newborns pacifiers and bottles rather than helping to ensure the mother has every opportunity to breastfeed, with babies rooming-in, nursing support and teaching for the new mom.

And when the new mom goes home with her baby...what then? A postpartum doula is available in those first weeks, or even longer, to offer support and encouragement to the mother, to the family.  Simple things like helping with infant care while mom recovers from the birth experience and regains her own strength, sharing in light household tasks to allow mom and family time to create bonds with their new addition, information and resource sharing so they know where to find the services they may need in this season of their lives. Perhaps just sharing a visit and conversation.

You know there's a need. We've all been there at one time or another.

I have already started the process to get my qualifications and certifications in place as a labor and a postpartum doula, as well as lactation consultant and child birth educator. I would love to continue it even farther and get qualified as a midwife assistant as well. Perhaps one day. For now, I will start making a difference in just this one, small way.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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