Daily Archives: January 24, 2011

a calling

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a Sunday in Labor & Delivery at a local hospital. While I would love to tell you I’ve been keeping a big secret from all of you, the real reason I was there is almost as good. Some friends of ours whom we met last year–our first real life lesbian mom friends–were having their second baby, and they asked me to attend the birth. And though the day ended in my friends sending me home because they were going to have to have a cesarean birth, it was such an incredibly rewarding experience.

When these friends asked me in November if I would consider being there for them, it was in the midst of their attempts to cope with the other partner’s very traumatic birth experience two years prior. I loaned them a book, and J and I spent a fair amount of time talking with them hoping to help them move on from that experience so that they could have a more positive outlook for this birth. It was so rewarding helping them through this, and we began to see a difference in how the birth mom was feeling.

About a month later on the Winter Solstice, J and I were taking a drive in part to get BG a nap and in part to just enjoy the lovely day and one another. I talked about how excited I was to be there for our friends’ birth, that this felt really incredible and that if I liked this, maybe I would look into doing the work to become a doula. J began talking about the fact that she has always seen me as a healer, that I have always had this healing energy, and then in that moment, she said, “I think you were a midwife before.”

In that moment, my breath caught in my throat. Tingles ran through my entire body. My scalp vibrated. I started weeping. Somehow, I knew she was right. Nothing has ever felt more right.

Now I should say that I’m not one to react so strongly to possibilities of prior existences. I like the idea of having been here before, but I’m not sure about anything, so often I dismiss thoughts of having had one experience or another in a past life.

But I honestly believe that in a life before this one, I caught babies. Even now as I type this, the chills come right back and the tears well up in my eyes.

However, I am living in this life where I am an academic. I teach writing–when I have the opportunity to teach. I am an intellectual who loves intellectual pursuits. I’m tens of thousands of dollars in debt from my education. So of course the logical next step for me is…right. That’s my problem. I have been so stuck in recent years. I entertained going back for another advanced degree in a more lucrative field. I have thought about continuing what I started when I got my degree which is freeway flying from one college to another. But this is hardly a life, especially with a child. I have tried landing the full-time, tenure-track position, but it turns out I am simply not competitive enough to thrive in academia. That said, this has been my identity for so very long, yet I’ve always felt a little like an imposter, like I really should be doing something else, like I fell into this teaching business without ever finding my true calling.

A calling. That is what I have found.

With the birth of Baby Genius, with my pregnancy, my whole experience with preparing for his birth, and the birth itself, I discovered a passion for childbirth. I don’t have a passion for birthing lots of babies (I have maybe one more in me, but I’m no octo.mom), but I can’t get enough of birth stories of talking with women about their birth experiences of advocating for women in their birth experiences. I can’t think of a more life altering moment in a woman’s life, yet this moment is so often controlled by outsiders, by fear, by external pressures, by hospital protocol. I want to help with all of that. I know I can. I need to do this.

And so, I guess I’ve found that I’m going to be a doula. That is my first step anyway. I know that if I dedicated enough–and I’d like to think I am, I can be a childbirth educator. I can teach! And from there, who knows. I might take it further, or I might find that doula work and childbirth education are exactly right for me.

All I can say is that for the first time in my life, I’m not following a path that someone else suggested for me. I’ve found something that feels genuinely perfect. And when I have told those close to me–and there have been only a few I have told–people respond in the most incredible way. They nod, smile knowingly, and tell me, “That is perfect.”

Today I took my first step and bought a book from DONA’s required reading list for doulas-to-be. In a week, I will send in my registration form and a deposit for my training workshop (which just happens to be held at the birth center where I had hoped BG’s birth would be–and is taught by the doula who gave us the tour of the hospital where we didn’t have BG). I am on my way, and it feels so right.

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changes

It appears that we are coming to the end of the days of two naps–not that two naps ever meant much of any time spent sleeping. Our son has slept poorly from about four months on, and naps have been no exception. Typically, they have been no more than half an hour or forty minutes, but they have been consistent. We could rely on him taking a nap sometime around 9am and another sometime around 2pm. For the past month or so, the morning nap has been iffy, and if he has a morning nap, the afternoon nap has been hard to catch. Yesterday, we found ourselves with a boy who took a twenty-minute nap around 10am and then nothing. All. Day. Long. He was a mess by the time bedtime rolled around. There’s that myth that if a kid doesn’t nap, said child will then sleep all night or for long periods of time at night. But as I said, it’s a myth. He woke up nearly every hour throughout the entire night. Bleh.

But today was a new day, and we are accepting that we are going to have a one-nap boy now. While we tried for the morning nap, he refused and just had some quiet time snuggling instead. We then tried an early afternoon nap, and lo and behold, BG slept for over 90 minutes! He woke up cranky because he had been so very out, but the rest of the day was great, and he went down so smoothly tonight. I have my fingers crossed for the rest of the night.

We are in the midst of our No-Cry Sleep Solution implementation. There have been some good nights and some bad nights, but we’re finding a path toward more organized sleep. The first step is to get BG to stop the all-night nursing marathons, but we’re doing this while also training him to sleep in his own bed for most of the night. It’s a challenge. One night, after trying to put him down for two hours in the middle of the night, I found myself scribbling angry notes in our sleep log. Looking at it in the light of day, it looked like the scrawlings of a serial killer. I was a mess, but it’s all part of the strategy, and when I look at other factors, we are seeing improvements. He is sleeping for longer stretches at the beginning of the night. When he does nurse in the middle of the night, he does so very briefly then unlatches himself, rolls over, and falls back to sleep on his own, often for a number of hours. These are positive changes, and I have to look at these little gems glittering amidst the muck that is gentle sleep training.

I have to say, sometimes I wish I were equipped to let him cry it out, that we could find a faster solution, but the fact is, I’m not, and J is not. It just isn’t an option we can entertain, so we will continue to slog through this way until our son finally sleeps well. I feel it on the horizon.

Sleep is not one’s entire life, though. Recently, BG has discovered that outside is one of his favorite things in the whole world–perhaps because it is the whole world. He wakes up in the morning and wants nothing more than to go “outside! outside! outside!” Sadly, outside here is our balcony (overlooking a lovely creek) or toddling the sidewalks around our apartment complex. He can spend countless hours doing both right now, but what the boy really needs is a small yard. We all do, and we’re working harder than ever on getting him (and us) just that.

In the meantime, we have lots of visits to the park to keep our boy outside nearly as much as he wants to be.

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Filed under Baby Genius