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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14 Comments

Filed under new pursuits

14 responses to “a calling

  1. Cindyhoo2

    Congratulations on finding your path!!

  2. Yes, congratulations!

    It’s exciting to witness that catching of a spark when someone discerns their calling. So rare.

    Thanks for sharing and taking us on the journy with you.

  3. It sounds incredible. Even your post about it is filled with such passion it must be the right path for you! As someone whose very recent birth experience was not stellar (though options were limited with twins) i now understand the importance of a doula so much more. Congrats on finding your true calling!

  4. That’s so so fantastic and, as you say, so rare. I’ve been wanting to do the same, but lacking the funds, so for now, I hope you’ll post about your journey so that I can follow it.

  5. A.

    What a wonderful decision/calling! Even without having met you in person, I KNOW that this is for you.

  6. That sounds awesome! We should all be able to do the thing in life we have passion for! Congratulations!

  7. It sounds like an exciting path. It’s also so wonderful to feel like it’s the perfect one. Congratulations!

  8. Jen

    I am so excited for your new path and I agree, without even “knowing” you, you have a spirit of a healer and an aura about you. What an amazing opportunity to do something that matters, and to make a difference for the lives of so many. Congratulations and I cannot wait to read more about it.

  9. How exciting to have found your true calling. Best of luck!

  10. Congrats – what a a joyous light feeling it must be to be taking steps in a new direction, one that is filled with healing, hope and passion. Birth advocates, educators and cheerleaders and needed in our day of age- good luck to you!

  11. I am so excited for you. I also think as you go on this journey you might be surprised how much your prior education helps you and melds in some way or another with this new direction. I just love passionate new beginnings. I am filled with smiles. I also can not say enough about how much I respect doula’s and the work they do. Check out the South Community Birth Program’s website. They have a very neat program. I was with them. It is a pretty amazing model for childbirth.Doula’s are a huge part of their program. http://www.scbp.ca/

  12. K

    How exciting! I did the DONA training a few years back and was just starting to do some shadowing when our own pregnancy came about and I didn’t want to do anything but sleep. 🙂 Now I worry that my own birthing experience has scarred me too deeply to get back into it, at least for a while. I’ll be interested to see how this new chapter unfolds for you. It certainly sounds like a magical fit.

  13. Boo

    I am so excited for you! I love love love being a midwife (and I loved being a doula before that). If you have any questions about anything doula or midwifery related, please don’t hesitate to email me. I left my career as an environmental scientist to pursue my dream of being a midwife and I am so increadibly glad I did.

  14. Fiona

    Truly wonderful!!!

    I wish you all the best in this new journey!

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