Sunday, June 12, 2011

Doula Work: One Year In

So, I've been a doula for a year and a half now, my first client-baby was born 13 months ago. Oh, what I've seen!

In me: I've changed. A lot. I don't fear driving in metro areas so much. I often drive to neighborhoods I've never been to, with no anxiety. I meet big ole family dogs who lick me, again with little anxiety. I spend all day every other Saturday or so away from home, stacking client appointments up so I can save trips and therefore fuel cost. Somewhere inside, I've grown and changed. Something is rising up in me that wants to protest the status quo of birth in American hospitals. Yet I find myself bringing cookies to the nurses and enjoying the greetings from nurses I've worked with before. I have more of an awe of just how fearfully and wonderfully made we really are. The Great Designer of life has made a beautiful work of birth. Moms and babies know just what to do and the hormones, reflexes, and built in hard-wiring is amazing (if we'd just stop meddling with it all!).

In our medical system: I just shake my head. I cry. Some days more than others. I sobbed after leaving a couple who were forced to strategically plan their vaginal birth after a Cesarean. Sobbed mostly for their success but also in frustration for them. Why must it be a fight? I have seen a doctor try to convince two different moms to let him do an episitomy each one clearly stated on her birth plan she didn't want. Each baby was doing fine, so there was no valid rush. Yet when the moms said they didn't want an episiotomy, each time the doctor shoved the mom's tissue up over baby's head like a too-tight turtle neck. Both moms tore moderately. I suspect it was his frantic hands-on approach to blame.

I've seen doctors outright lie to moms. One felt the need to tell mom that her baby would die if the shoulders didn't come out right. This was before the head had even been delivered, so what was the point? I've seen a doctor who doesn't do vaginal births after Cesareans pretend they did, only to pull the proverbial rug out from under mom at the last minute, giving her a fictitious reason a repeat surgery would be needed. I've seen a doctor rush his patient to deliver, putting a time restriction on her pushing time just because the L&D floor was busy. If she didn't perform this nearly super-human feat? Surgical birth for no good reason. She pushed like mad and tore as her baby was born under the time limit. One nurse confided in me that needing to pick up the kids from school is a determining factor in one OBs use of Pitocin to manage labors.

But I've seen doctors cheer on a mom doing it all the old fashioned way. One mom had a very fast labor and arrived at the hospital near the pushing stage. She wore a gown and gave birth on a hospital bed, but nothing else was medical about it. She pushed her baby out on her side in 20 minutes. The doctor said, "This is how everyone should do it."

In more than one birth, it's been the nurse who saved my client from an unnecessary Cesarean birth. Recently, one of those nurses was gently coaching my client to push, counting to ten for her. My client told me later that as she blew out her breath half way (the preferred method for moms who actually want their babies to get oxygen during pushing), she purposefully opened her eyes to check the nurse's reaction to her rebellion. The nurse was apparently looking at me knowingly. The she smiled.

Families: This is the best part. I love getting tearful hugs from the new Grandmas as I say my goodbyes after a birth. They know all too well the joyful mountain top experience the new parents are experiencing. And what a sweet moment it is when a Daddy sees his child's head start to emerge. The looks on their faces the first time they lock eyes with their baby. It's fresh on my mind right now, so it stands out more, but I will never forget the pride the husband of a vbac-ing mom has. He did it, too! She wasn't alone in her quest for a vaginal birth, he supported her and even more importantly, he saw her achieve it. It's nothing like the work a Cesarean birth demands (more emotional and restrengthening afterwards). Vaginal birth is powerful from the core of her being, especially when she's fighting the system to get it. The wise husband can't miss this and he will forever be changed by witnessing her strength.

The strength of laboring women has changed me too. And I'm so glad.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Love Language

These days some of my thoughts are too long for a Facebook status update so I thought I'd drop back in here and see what happens.

I was cleaning out some old file boxes today and came across some quizzes used to determine one's Love Language. How simple life once was.

When we were newlyweds, we had so few responsibilities! We had all the time in the world to deeply ponder if we felt more loved when our man put his arm around us at the BBQ or if writing us a note rocked our world.

How times have changed! We celebrated 16 years of marriage last weekend. Here we are now with five girls, one getting closer to launching every day all the way down to our Little Thing who is getting closer to nights without diapers! How on Earth am I supposed to know if a bear hug from Shane soothes my soul more than help with the laundry! I am up to my eyeballs in kid touches and dirty clothes, so I can't see past either one! Is his loving shoulder massage coming on the day he's finally home from working two 18 hour days in a row? If so, yeah, it's pretty nice. But I won't complain if he sees the housework and cat herding, ahem, I mean child raising is taxing me so he takes the kids to his mom's so I can enjoy some peace and quiet.

But I don't think that last one is even on the quiz. Why isn't there a "Peace & Pampering" love language? Maybe in this stage of family life, any single moment of something that appears even close to showing me you love me should count? I think so!

The Love Language concept is great, don't get me wrong. But these days I can't afford to keep up with how my husband is loving me. I know he does. He works a hard job (or two) to provide for us, he delights in the joys of having children in our home, he doesn't mind running to the store for the diapers I didn't realize we were out of, even if it is 10pm at night. So what if our anniversary was spread out over three days due to family life: Dinner one night, wine the next, and finally some alone time the third night. That's the way it goes, Baby, so you'd better just count your blessings, no matter how nitty gritty they are.

Just so you don't mistake this little post as coming from a woman on a high horse, today is Thursday. Thursday nights compete with the hour before church on Sunday morning as the hardest time of our week. I am ready for someone else to help with these kids. He is ready for some rest. Eh, doesn't line up so well. So, he's due home anytime. I forgot to thaw out the hamburger meat for dinner. This is life out here. It's a good life, but no high horses (but possibly some high mounds of horse poop!).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Goodbye for now!

So I love this blog. I love seeing the followers on the sidebar. I love all the work I've put into it.

That's why I'll leave it up and may even come back to it from time to time.

That's right, I'm officially signing off for a while. It's not possible to keep all these irons in the fire. My current ideas for blog posts are not what I want this blog to be about: doula work and some critical thoughts...and the original goal to stay in touch with family is now met with Facebook.

All Girl Homeschool isn't about birthy stuff and besides my area is just too rural to talk about experiences with caregivers and clients anonymously. I seem to have some soap box issues brewing that are not edifying, and you don't want to hear that either...

If you've come across here, please dig in, wander around and enjoy your stay. My heart is still to be a resource for homeschool families, so drop me a line in the comments if you need something.

If we aren't friends on facebook, look me up so we can keep up with each other. I have my page and my doula page: Wendy Fowler, Doula so come find me!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Life's Work

One of my doula clients asked me what I'd do if I attended a birth with a client and decided I hated doula work.

 I know I won't hate it. I already love it. My response to her is that I know God made me for this job in this season of my life and I'm excited to do it.

I know I rely heavily on my trash man but I boy there have to be better jobs, right? I have the philosophy that we should all love our jobs. My spiritual justification? God gave us all a unique set of gifts and talents, personality and genes. He has wired us to do a specific work. Of course I don't like all things about my work as a mom (scrubbing toilets, anyone?) but really, I do love it. I loved pregnancy center work. I loved breast feeding counseling, and I love doula work. I've been blessed enough to be so happy with my work that I felt guilty for getting paid!

In a similar vein, Shane is in a "dead end" job, meaning he can't move up the ladder much in the position he's in. But he loves it. He enjoys being outside, working with just a couple inmates at a time, seeing the county side every day, and doing physical labor. I am thrilled that he enjoys his work. I remember a time about a dozen years ago when he hated his job. He was a different man. Depressed and unmotivated. I like the 2010 version much better!

I think the key to finding work or ministry you love is to consider your passions, then think about how you can make a living within those passions. A good book is Your Life of Your Money, which stresses not giving up the abundant life God has for us (my words, not the author's) in the workplace just for stuff to enjoy on the weekends. If you are in a job you don't enjoy, I encourage you to prayerfully evaluate your talents, passions, and personality and read that book! You'll be glad you did! Don't you want to feel guilty for getting paid?!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Years Goal-Ripple Effect

So do you remember your New Year's resolution? Well, I don't know that I can recall all mine, but I must tell you about the effects of my sweet cousin's 2010 goal.

But let me back up.

During our childhood years, until we graduated from high school, most of my cousins on one side of our family lived in the same town. We were in school together and played at each others houses. Once we grew up and had families, we hardly saw each other except major holidays. This particular cousin, Jamie, was around on Christmas but Easter brought her around long enough to make an appearance.  Of course we'd always have a good time visiting at Christmas and promise to get together more during the year, but it never happened. And so it went until we started watching her now almost four year old when she was about 18 months old. We visited some each week and our old childhood friendship was rekindled.

Then Jamie lost her job and we didn't see her daily anymore. We'd talk on Facebook some and tried to stay in touch. Then 2010 came along and Jamie told me her goal was to reconnect with her family. Boy has she!

I'm so proud of my little cousin for taking the time to really do what we all mean to do. She's calling my Grandma regularly (and making me look bad!), chatting with my parents (her aunt & uncle) on Facebook, and she and I are hanging out and talking on the phone. It's all because she decided to make family a priority and to follow through.

I love it when that happens. If we could all pursue our goals with such gusto!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Pruning Past your Comfort Level

Mom and I were doing our spring ritual of walking through her yard and talking plants. I think she hopes these little talks will inspire me to dig in the dirt...which I hope to do. Someday.

We were talking about her rose bush that was almost touching the overhang of the house. Until she pruned it. And I do mean PRUNED it. She and I agreed that when you prune a plant, especially a rose, you prune as much as you can, then do it some more.

Well, I am relating to that pruning, but not in the way you'd guess. Not with anything spiritual...but practically speaking with decluttering while packing. I mean, like Ashlyn said tonight, "We just have to have more than one package of Oreos, since with just two a piece, 14 are gone."

So as I pack pretending to be a minimalist, I still see stacks of boxes as high as mom's pre-pruned rose bush! I really want to just have a few things when we move. If I don't love it, it aint goin' with us. Well, that's the theory anyway. My family insists the purple Dora chair with the burn hole in the back goes. I sure hope it doesn't get lost in the move...

I think the only way to get to my goal of having less stuff is to prune past the pain. That's the highly inspirational thought for the day. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

ER Visits & Such

Well, I planned to tell you about other things like doula-ing or the story of how God changed us from sellers (of land) to the buyers (of a house for the land) but life can change on a dime...

After a "field trip" to visit a friend yesterday, my cousin & her daughter came to visit. Her daughter is the one we used to babysit and Jaika calls Adri her best friend. They're about six weeks apart and it's so sweet to see them growing up together. So not five minutes after they arrive, a game of tag ensues in the living room and Jaika jumps up on the couch (usually frowned upon by Mom & Dad) and slipped off again. When she fell, she broke her collar bone. Of course I didn't know this yet, so I thought it was possible her "Ouchie! Ouchie! Ouchie!" outbursts were fueled by her sleepy state and her need for drama (it's happened before...).

However, after a nap, she immediately woke up with more "Ouchies!" so off to the ER we went. She made it known she didn't want to be there and had no intention of cooperating with anyone. Oh the joys of being three and getting away with that attitude! They all thought she was cute (at least that's how they acted...not sure the x-ray tech agreed). Admittedly, she was pretty adorable when she told the clerk she passed down her old insurance to her baby sister and then said her Daddy was "at the jail" (he was at work, but as a security guard at that moment). The doctor asked if she was allergic to anything and she answered, "pink medicine". She brought him up to date on getting a new big bathtub in her new house we're moving into "tomorrow" and that she has a princess bed and gets pink bubble gum "every year".

Since Shane was at work, I did this trip solo but really needed another adult to help carry all the treats they gave her-a teddy bear larger than her, then a matching small one...she came home wearing a tiny dinosaur sling. She's being a great patient now that she's home but Shane & I are a little weary from being the parents of an injured, spirited child. He went to the store late last night (early this morning?) for Motrin and of course came home with treats for her. When he told her this morning he had a surprise for her, she said, "I know, you went to Wal-Mart and got me a surprise because you love me."

Oh brother.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh Wendy Where Art Thou?

I know, the remaining two readers have really been wondering where I've been...

Of course, on Facebook.

Yet I've also been graduating from physical therapy, doula-ing, becoming an expert on septic systems, and packing. Let's take these one at a time, shall we?

PT-My best friend who puts me in traction, Dr Stefanie discharged me. I'm not cured necessarily as only better posture, hours of daily yoga and not taking life so seriously are the only real cures. In the mean time, I'm managing my symptoms (in theory anyway) with stretching, strengthening and massages.

Doula-ing-I have 3.5 clients. I am hoping .5 will become my fourth this week, but I'm trying to get my heart ready for the first person who interviews me but doesn't hire me. It's bound to happen right? Yes, alas, it is. So back to my 3 whole clients. I have been praying and praying for clients, fighting back the devil's whispers that say I was a fool to pay for all the doula gear and business cards as no one really wants me. Then on March 12th I received my first call from a newish friend who wants me to help her have a vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) in October. Within five days I had three more calls. Two were referrals from a doula in the next town over who'll be out of town during those births. Both of those couples are so very sweet and I can't wait to be a part of their births. The other was from California. I don't commute that far right now.

Septic Systems and Packing-We're finally moving to our land in the country. We've had our land for almost ten years and for most that time we've been working towards moving onto it. The last two years we've been trying to sell it to get out of debt but we've finally figured out it's not what God wants us to do. I'll write about that soon. For right now just know He's opened the doors in a big way for this to happen. We're living our dream of getting some country living into our girls. Can't wait for it!

I'll be here again soon to fill you in more. Lots of good things happening. God is good.