Sunday, May 8, 2011

Catching up

I don't have any illusions that I'm going to write on any sort of regular basis, but it feels good to check in now and then.

I have shifted from sort of dreaming about midwifery to actually moving toward it. It's funny how profound and how simple this journey is- I've seen so many other doulas take it and it always felt so magical, and mundane at the same time. I've known a lot of doulas who have dreamed of becoming midwives, and I have only recently fancied myself one of those with any real seriousness. I feel like I'm joining another set of ranks in between the worlds of the lesser liabilities and responsibilities, to the greater ones.

Something that I am really grateful for as I march forward is number one, the length of time I spent doing doula work before I started to pursue midwifery. I've been able to in a huge, hands on way, really explore who I believe myself to be in the birth space, letting go of attachment to outcomes, separating myself emotionally from my clients and cleaving to them in appropriate ways, having boundaries (I am still working on this, but probably always will be, right?), and so much more. It is not just a passion for women, birth and babies that brings me to midwifery, I feel like I had to really develop a strong, mature sense of self before I could start down this road.

Submitting to a woman in labor is one thing- letting go of ego, of attachments to what I want her to do, or what I want her to experience - submitting to a provider whose decisions I must not only quietly accept but then also execute, is a different level. Thankfully I'm not terribly challenged in this department - I have the good luck to be working with midwives I know well and whose protocols I feel comfortable with- but I know this will not be true always. I remember being a fired up doula who was totally ready to stand in front of a provider and say STOP! I find it funny now, it's like looking back at my own doula-childhood.

Recently I was at a birth where the mom had some complications and we had to move swiftly to support her. It wasn't anything critical but you never know until you look backward- we were a fluid team that moved easily together and I felt absolutely relaxed. I reflected later that it was because I trusted this midwife to know what to do, and that we would have what we needed to care for her until EMS arrived if we needed them (we didn't). I also realized that I trust myself too - even in those moments of HOLY SHIT WTF IS PITOCIN!? where my mind goes absolutely blank for a fraction of a second, I know what is needed, I know what to do, I have the experience at births to know what is coming down in the next two or three (or more) steps. I don't expect that I will always feel so relaxed, but right now, with the births I've attended as an assistant, I absolutely hunger for more. I also realize that part of feeling so relaxed is that I am not the provider making the calls on what must happen next, I am simply doing as I am told, for now.

It is challenging to try to sort out where, as a birth assistant, no longer 'just' a doula, now on the leading edge of midwifery with more responsibility, more at stake - to get support and process these things. I'm wishing for a community of birth assistants like I have as a doula with my colleagues, and I also am grateful it doesn't exist at the same time. It feels good to cleave to my midwife and to my one or two friends who are on the same path I am- to not have to process everything out loud/in public.

Just rambling- I feel like I forget how to write sometimes and while this may be disjointed it feels good to just write a little.