Tuesday, April 12, 2011

DONA Recap

Greetings, gentle readers!

Our plans for the day have - for the second time in two weeks - been derailed by a nice case of stomach flu/food poisoning (thankfully mild). We just got up an hour or so ago after having been up all night with various family members' needs, so today is going to be a day of loafing at home while we deal with the tail-end of this thing (it may be mild, but it's rather long-lasting).

And so, a bit of time to blog!

I had promised to write about my DONA birth doula training from a week and a half ago, so here goes!

This was a three-day training, starting with a Friday evening session. We ended up driving over as a family, a fact for which I am devoutly grateful, as hitting metro Phoenix during rush hour is NOT something that I enjoy. Or that I would have lived through. Not only would I, on my own, probably have ended up good and lost (if not in an accident), but Phoenix has these horrible center lanes which are sometimes for through-traffic, sometimes for left turns, sometimes off-limits - entirely depending on the time of day. They are evil. So DH, who could find his way anywhere blindfolded, got us over instead, and it worked perfectly.

I loved St. Jo's, where the training was held. I know that they just got kicked out of Catholic fellowship for ethical issues (which is sad and disappointing), but there were still many evidences of their original Catholic heritage - pictures of the nuns who used to staff it, statues of various priests who had helped build it, etc. - a very sweet, peaceful atmosphere.

Friday night's session turned out to be a time for each of us to tell - in brief - the story of how each of us was born, and also how our own children had been born. It was a fascinating time, with lots of widely varying stories - some very inspiring and beautiful, some extremely sad (miscarriages, abortions, etc.).

However, you can guess that with 40-50 women, there was no way in the world that we could have finished with that in two hours - and we didn't! The session was supposed to end at eight, and I finally left at nine (since I had two kidlets who needed to get to bed) - I was told later that those who remained didn't get through till sometime after eleven!

I didn't get to tell my stories - too bad, since my mom's birth story with me is a fairly interesting one! (Not to mention my own first and second and third births!)

Saturday's session was all day, and it was a lot of fun. I can't recall all that we went over, but there was a lot of material.

In terms of birth science, I actually didn't pick up that much new information, which is, I think, just the result of four years of hard-core reading and birth-junky-ist participation, plus subscribing to something like a hundred or more birth blogs. However, I loved hearing about Mary's experiences and picking up all of the details that come across when hearing a highly experienced birth professional tell about her work as a doula and midwife. For me, the highlight of the day was seeing Mary's birth video for her last birth (her tenth!!!), a fact for which I greatly admire her - it takes guts to show all-bared birth videos of oneself to a room full of strangers! (Of course, if I behaved as gracefully and beautifully during birth, I might be willing too! But as it is, no. LOL)

Though I was disappointed that her birth seemed as difficult as it did - my thoughts about a tenth birth would have been like were something like "Oh, I think I'm in labor! Oh, here's the baby!" Nope, it was still lots of good hard work. Too bad! :)

Something that I did learn a LOT about on Saturday was about doula politics and the role of the doula. I had never understood why DONA had such stringent policies about doulas staying out of all medical roles (cervical checks, interpreting heart tones, etc.) and also staying out of adversarial patient advocacy - DONA does not want its doulas to speak on behalf of the parents. Mary really explained all of that perfectly, and it made so much sense... put simply, doulas need to keep their profession in good reputation among hospital staff. If a doula is rude, adversarial, sneaky, or a problem to hospital staff, she can ruin a good thing for all doulas coming after her - leading to bad treatment of doulas, doula bans, etc. If, however, she is a blessing and a help to her clients and to hospital staff, good things can happen for all involved. I really learned a lot about doula politics and practice ethics.

In participant makeup, the training was quite surprising to me. Firstly, I was expecting a small, intimate group of about 10-15 trainees - instead, it was a packed 40-50, plus babies! Secondly, I was expecting that the group would be composed of all hard-core birth junkies. There were some birth junkies there, plus some birth professionals (L&D nurses, long-time doulas who needed the training for certification), but there was also a huge percentage of the group who did not seem to be at all a part of the birth community - which was interesting, and wonderful!

On that line, it came to me during this training that a birth doula training is something that could be beneficial to all women, regardless of their interest in birth work. In the old days, all women had experience attending births simply because women attended their family members' and neighbors' births. Now, many women - myself included - have never been at a birth until they give birth themselves. Birth rites, knowing how to support laboring women, and all the female mysteries that come along with childbirth, are an intrinsically female knowledge that can only enrich and benefit all women. So, dear readers, if you are at all interested.... I really recommend a birth doula training, even if you have no intention of becoming a birth doula! While trainings are sometimes expensive, there are occasional low-cost trainings (like this one - $50 for the whole weekend) that are so worth it!

Our little guy, who accompanied me both days, was an angel, and he only made me miss about an hour total of Saturday's ten hours. What a champ! He was just great. And there were at least five other babies there, which made me feel so much better about having him there, and about the minor amount of noise that he made.

When I got home on Saturday evening, we ended up heading out again almost immediately to attend our local annual jazz festival, which is an amazing and wonderful event (if you're in the area, come next year!!). Last year we went for a substantial amount of time and really enjoyed it. This year we only stayed for about three songs, due to the fact that (a) I was exhausted, and (b) our little chap decided - after spending all day saying that he wanted to go to the jazz festival - that he did not want to be there and was going to complain the entire time. However, it was still awesome, and I was glad we got to be there, even if only for a token amount of time. My favourites are the Dixie-style bands! Love them!!

I spent the rest of the evening getting ready for Sunday - making lunches, etc. And since I insisted on washing and sterilizing everything that we took with us - since we were at a hospital - that meant unpacking everything, doing laundry, etc., and repacking - quite a bit of work!

After a very long day, we went to bed and prepared for another long day on Sunday.....

..... Until about four hours later, when I was awakened by a three a.m. call of doom - "Mommy, I need you!"

Yup, that's right. Stomach flu for our older son, thankfully not severe, but enough to keep me occupied for the rest of the night with changing clothes, changing sheets, rinsing trash cans, giving medicine, sitting up with him, etc. etc. etc. And that was the end to my participation in Sunday's part of the training.

I was disappointed - I had been looking forward to a birth doula training for a long time. And from what I heard later, I missed a ton of great information (this was probably the day when I would have been blown away by new information).

However, I wasn't heartbroken. Why? Because Saturday's session was enough for me to conclude what I have suspected for a long time, which is this: At least at this time in my life, God is not calling me to be a birth doula. I simply do not have the desire or the proper character qualities, and it would not be a good fit for me.

So, while my participation in the training was incomplete, in many ways it closed a chapter for me and lifted a burden from my shoulders - the burden of feeling like I should become a birth doula (since most birth junkies eventually end up in that role). If the Lord wants to develop me in that direction so that in ten years (or next week, whenever it happens) I do feel that calling, well and good. But for now, I am no longer going to push myself in that direction.

Being a birth junky for the past four years has been mildly frustrating, simply because I have not felt a concrete call to any of the traditional birth junky roles - childbirth educator, birth doula, postpartum doula, lactation consultant, etc. Many women I know who have entered the birth community much later than I are already practicing and flourishing doulas, while I have remained a groupie. Yes, it has been frustrating. But in many ways, I believe that God is calling me just to wait, to focus on my family, and to wait on His timing. And considering that I do not do well with a super-busy schedule, that's probably just as well.

Another thing that struck me while I was at Saturday's training was how much I love my job as a stay-at-home mom. As a SAHM, I am almost never away from home and family for that long (12 hours). And I didn't really like it! I realized how much my heart is wedded to my home - how much I love being a worker at home, a keeper of the home, a wife and mother. It is the most fulfilling work I have ever done, and I am so thankful for it - and for my husband's support in that role (it is a huge priority for him). I am very, very blessed.

And that's that!

I want to update on our life too, but I think I'll take a break and come back to a new entry for that. Oh, and I have something else for you - my new and improved HG protocol! Aren't you excited??? I'll post later.

Happy Tuesday, all!

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