dear DONA, can i be a doula please?

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yesterday marked somewhat of an achievement for me. it also happened to be the day we received 2o dollars in the mail from my mother. this could only lead to one thing in our household: achievement + $20 = celebratory tacos.

baby belly, meet tacos. tacos, meet baby belly. oh that’s right! you’ve met before. 

yesterday, after almost 2 years of working on my certification materials, i sent off my application to become a certified doula by DONA International.

i have been working towards this for a long time. little by little i got it done and honestly it shouldn’t have taken me this long because i had the actual work part of it done a long time ago. i just had to find time to sit down and compile it all into papers and lists and what not. one of my problems is that i put the things that i need to do for myself last.

but i’m not going to dwell on it because the bottom line is, i done put that sucker in the mail yesterday. and now i just wait to hear if i fulfilled all the requirements in a satisfactory manner.

which is going to be a bit nerve-wracking.

i’m already waiting to hear if i passed one certification and now i’ll be waiting on this one. oh yeah, and i’m starting two new certifications in about 2 weeks. i’ve put a lot of myself into this for the past 3 years and i’m investing a lot of my future in it too. what if i get my packet back and stamped on the outside says “probably the worst doula candidate we’ve ever seen. please don’t do this anymore” ?

there’s a lot of fear wrapped up in this for me.

i have fear surrounding my ability to do birth work after the birth of my own amazing little second human. will there be enough space for me? everybody wants to be a doula now! there will probably be 50 newly trained doulas running around my town by the time i’m ready to take births again. and by the way both those last two sentences are written from a positive spot. i think it’s awesome and right that so many women want to be doulas. it’s my hope for female culture that we reclaim the knowledge of childbirth as a collective. and doulas do run around town. it’s what we do for our clients. we go to them, to their houses, to their hospitals, to their doctor’s appointments. we’re a group on the go. but will there be a space for me when i’m back on the scene?

will there be space in my own life for birth work? i worry about finding time to support clients in a way they deserve while basking in babydom and being present in my own life.

well, the answer is i don’t know what i don’t know. i can only have faith. i can only have faith in myself and in whatever future is out there for me. and i can voice these fears because i know they are not realities. they are just fears of things that have not yet come to pass. one of the main things i do as a doula is hold space for others. i’m going to have to learn to hold space for myself.  i will have to hold space in my life and in my thoughts.

this will need to be mantra: my life and my world are big enough to accommodate me and my dreams. 

sooooo this is all a really long-winded way of saying wish me luck with this approval and with navigating this area of life in an unknown future.

ALSO, this was a really long-winded way of telling you that those tacos were damn good and thanks to my momma for the taco funds!

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the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i really love working on this series and i’m so happy to share the wisdom of these women with you.

photoRina Crane kinda seems like a, excuse my language, badass. Rina is based in the Bronx as a doula, doula trainer and founder & program coordinator of a volunteer doula program called Bronx Doulas serving women that otherwise might not have access to doula care. I was connected to her by another awesome doula and based on her answers and bio I can say i’m so happy women like Rina are doing this important work. From hypnobirthing, to reiki, to lamaze, it seems that Rina’s studied it all.

I’m happy to give you the words & wisdom of Doula Rina:

1. How long have you been a doula and what brought you to down the doula path?

I’ve been working as a doula for five years and feel that I’ve always been a doula at heart. After my births, I felt that there was lots of information that wasn’t easily accessible by so many women in our culture. Most of us do all of the standard things without asking questions or knowing what our options are. I felt very strongly that I should help get information out there. I decided to train as a doula so that I could help one or two women every now and then. Apparently, I’ve had a slight departure from that initial goal.

2. I’ve experienced people with the preconception that doulas only help women during natural birth. How would you respond to that? Who can benefit from doula support?

First, everyone can benefit from doula support, that’s why we’ve always had doulas. In most cultures, women are supported in birth by members of their community who come together and share their experience, stories and comfort techniques. Whether it’s one person or a group, this is how humans have always birthed in most parts of the world. I’ve been hired by women who were planning to use pain medication or even have cesareans. They may hire me for the reassurance and comfort I might provide or for the information I can share.

Sometimes we think we are being given a choice, but without an understanding of the pros and cons, we are being cheated. If you have a negative side effect from a decision you made, but you knew that was possible, you’re still in control. If you didn’t know about the consequences, it can have long-term effects, physically and emotionally. Many doulas say that they empower women in their births. I disagree. Women have the power already. Sometimes, a little information or a little word of encouragement uncovers it for them, the power that was theirs to begin with. That was a circuitous route to say that doulas can be immensely helpful during births with planned or surprise interventions.

3. You are a doula trainer and run a volunteer doula program in the Bronx, {tres awesome!} can you give me 3 top concepts of the doula role you teach women pursuing this role with you.

I became a doula trainer in order to support my volunteer program (my next step is to convert it to a community-based non-profit in which the doulas get paid!), and have learned from my trainees which are the top concepts:

-It’s not your birth

When a prospective client asks what my birth philosophy is, I say it is to help them achieve what they want. As doulas, we need to put our own ideals aside. We help people get the information they need to make the decisions that are right for them. Sometimes, we may not agree or understand them, but we don’t have to.

-How will she remember this?

As a doula, it’s important to know that a woman will always remember how she was made to feel in labor. Sometimes ours is the lone voice of calm or encouragement in the birth room. It’s essential to keep this in mind. A birth that departs greatly from the plan can still be triumphant and fulfilling if the woman feels she has been treated with respect and care. For various reasons, sometimes the doula is the only person doing that, but unlike others on the scene, that’s her job.

-Take care of yourself. 

Hopefully, it’s clear how this is important for your clients. You know, the whole idea of putting on your own oxygen mask first? Some things are obvious like eating well and urinating frequently and having reliable back up. Just as important, though, is having a network with whom you can debrief. Don’t take this work lightly. Attending a birth is exhilarating and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. You should have someone with whom you can share your joys and sorrows. You will experience both.

I’d like to thank Rina for sharing her thoughts and words on the doula spotlight. You can learn more about Rina’s services at DoulaRina.com  and her service work on the Bronx Doulas facebook page or website.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

the universe is testing me: on yeasayer tickets and doula commitments

guess what! i won tix to see yeasayer tomorrow night here in columbus. if i haven’t told you before {i have} they are my favorite band. i feel very honored to have been bestowed this gift from the universe.

the only problem is that in all likelihood it won’t be able to go.

the situation is that one way or another i’ll be supporting a momma as she brings her babe earthside.

i’ve known about the possible schedule conflict and even entered the contest with the thinking that the baby would make his way here before but you see babies operate on their own schedules.

so i think this has all transpired to test me, to say “are you sure you want this on-call life of missing out on special events, important family occurrences and yes, occasionally your favorite band?”

and i can tell you the answer is yes. albeit, at the moment it’s the kind of yes that would visually be represented by me kicking a rock in the dirt and saying yes under my breath because i reeeeeaaaalllllyyyyy love yeasayer and was digging the idea of seeing them almost an exact year later but it’s a yes. a definite yes.

and it’s ok. it’s more than ok. it means i’m in this. it means i’m committed. and that’s pretty cool for a gal like me.

weekending: birthy

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thank goodness nature gives us may before hitting us with the hard-core temps of summer, right? our weekend was beautiful and my weekend was quite birthy. i finished up my really lovely hypnobabies course. it’s nice to relearn things from a different perspective sometimes { you can hop on over to this post for more information about hypnobabies from maloree munn } and since it was a 6 week commitment it’s nice to have that all wrapped up under my belt. there is a nesting momma on the front porch of my instructor’s house. i took it to be a good omen.  i also did a bit of postpartum work on saturday {sometimes a postpartum momma rings you up and just needs your help to make it to a hair appointment she made 3 mos ago. i’m here for that } and some studying and reading saturday night. little by little this work is falling into place.

but i hope to be more of use in the future so please give me a call if you’re in a family way and need a doula, people of columbus ohio!

doula-do: new informational support sessions via skype

i wanted to use this platform to flush out a new service i’ll be offering. you know that feeling you have when you’ve thought of a really good idea but you don’t know if it will actually work? that’s me right now. but i think i just heard someone whisper “if you build it, they will come.” so i’m going for it. oh, wait. that was just my neighbors’ lawnmower. here goes anyway!

since starting the birthwork trail i’ve happily been a resource for a few friends for prep & planning of their own journey into parenthood. i’d like to pat my own back and smugly say that i think i played a small part of positive birth experiences for a few people. smuggy humor aside, helping folks whenever and wherever is what i’m hoping to do with this birthy brain bank up there.

so what’s a doula to do when she’s got friends across the globe with buns in the oven? skype. the answer to all time/space conundrums.

i will now be offering informational sessions over skype to help you prepare, plan & celebrate the birth of your child. for a nominal fee you’ll get a series of 2-hour sessions with me to flush out all things pregnancy related. in short, you’ll basically be getting prenatal doula support even if distance doesn’t allow me to be at your birth with you.

this is perfect for any stage of your pregnancy! i feel it would be especially helpful in the beginning phase when there is a little bit of that “so we’re pregnant! now what?” going on. i will also provide email information back-up to guide you towards good resources.

is this a good idea? yes? if you think so, please feel free to send my info to anyone you know that is expecting even if they are not sure they’re going to need doula care or not. I have included info about the sessions over at columbus birth arts under the birth work section.

so who wants to be first in line? wish me luck.

waiting on a baby; birth doula style

i’ve been waiting patiently for that phone call. my client has been having her warm-up contractions for several days now. she’s well within her due month so, yes, it’s just a fun waiting game for baby and momma’s body to know what time is the right time.

i rightly declined a trip to indiana for an important family event and have been waiting to spring into action these past few days. i tried going to bed early in anticipation of getting up in the middle of the night. no call. i tried going to bed late thinking that it’s because i was going to bed too early and the universe wanted to catch me off guard. because clearly this is all about me here, right?

no call.

since neither of those tactics have worked so i’m just taking the time to mediate on my gratefulness that the momma is being a champ and patiently waiting through each of these warm-up episodes, trusting in her body and baby.

this is what i signed up for. i wouldn’t have it any other way, except that i’m really hoping my life path takes me closer to my family so i could be there for both my family and my clients. yes, i said it indiana folks. i put it out into the universe. i’m hoping someday i will be a HOOSIER again and help you all birth your babies. HOOSIER DOULA? {seriously indiana friends – who’s your doula?}

well, i haven’t tried going to bed in the afternoon yet so i think i’ll do that and see if that works. g’night!

ps. it’s fun watching me figure all this “doula stuff” out, isn’t it?