Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quiet confidence

"You have a.....quiet confidence about you," my friend and fellow new mom said to me. I giggled a little because she had no idea that I have never had the reputation of having confidence about anything. In fact, my reputation, at least among my musician friends, was one of negativity and lack of confidence. It was amusing to hear anyone, much less someone I thought was amazing and had it all together, tell me that I had a shred of confidence.

The more time passed, the more I thought about this. Maybe I do have a quiet confidence about me. Through years of practice and training, I have learned to keep my negative thoughts about my flute playing to myself. Well, for the most part. I have learned to work through my confidence issues. However, where I may have lacked confidence in my playing, I made up with hard-headed determination to succeed. Maybe what I perceive as hard-headed determination is actually quiet confidence. It sounds better doesn't it? Let's go with that.

I met a mama today for a consultation and she asked me some unique and thought provoking questions that I do not usually get asked. One of the questions was, "What do the women who hire you have in common?" I may be misquoting her question a little bit, but since our interview, I have been pondering this question.

What do the mamas I have worked with have in common? In the interview I told her that she asked me a very good question and that all of the mamas I have worked with so far have set out to have a natural childbirth. It may seem that I was being facetious or being Captain Obvious with that answer, but not all women who seek out doula care are trying to achieve a natural childbirth.

I didn't think of this until later, but maybe one of the reasons I get hired is because I am charging less than a lot of other doulas around this area. Perhaps the mamas want some support but are also looking for a deal. Maybe they feel like they do not need a ton of support so are not willing to spend a ton of money on a service they aren't confident they truly need. Maybe my services are truly all they can afford and they'll take what they can get.

I can't dismiss the money issue completely, because, sorry, money is a deciding factor. As much as I wish it wasn't an issue, and as much as people probably don't want to admit it, I might be hired sometimes because the price is right. And you know what? That doesn't really bother me. My fees are my fees. I am in charge of setting them, and I set them that way on purpose. The more experience I gain, the higher my fees will become.   It is important to me to charge a price that I think is fair for all involved. I admit that several of my doula friends have been urging me to raise my fees. I will get there! But I am taking my time because I think it is fair.

Now I hope that no one hired me simply because they wanted a doula and they liked my fees. I am not the only doula around who is working towards certification. I am not the only doula around who is offering her services for a modest fee. Plus most doulas, no matter if they are certified or not, well-seasoned or not, offer payment plans, sliding scales, are willing to barter, and/or may even donate their time and services for an extremely committed and needy client. There must be something else. Even if money is a contributing factor as to why they hired me, it certainly can't be the only factor.

I admit, when I meet certain people, I feel a connection. There is definitely *something* there. Of course I don't immediately reveal, "Hey! I felt a connection with you. Did you feel a connection with me?" It's not a date! And even if it was, that's a little forward, yes? I don't want to be Ms. Creepy Doula who goes around feeling all connected to everyone. Sometimes there isn't an immediate connection, at least on my end, but that doesn't keep me from doing my best when the mom ends up hiring me as her doula. Through our postpartum visits and getting to know one another, we build a relationship. Even if it's a temporary relationship, there is a rapport between mom, dad and doula when the birth happens.

Because there isn't the same type of connection with everyone, I'm not sure that is something all the moms have in common. Perhaps it's personality. I would consider the moms that hire me to be calm, modest, kind, hopeful and also have a certain quiet confidence about them. If they do not start off with a quiet confidence, they have it by the time I see them at the postpartum visit. There must be something about my presence that the women must have felt soothing, or at least they felt that they wanted me at their birth. I have had several moms tell me, "I just want your presence. I find your presence comforting." I am not overly eager to do something. My desire is to follow the moms wishes. She is in charge. Maybe they were drawn to my humility and my quiet confidence, knowing that I wouldn't try to take over their birth or step on any toes. Maybe it's my soft voice. It's really hard to know.

I suppose the biggest thing that the mamas had in common other than wanting a natural childbirth was me. They chose me join them on their birth journey, and I was honored to tag along.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Faith Based Doula Care

After reading about how one of my fellow classmates from my doula training course sometimes incorporates prayer during labor if her clients wish, I have been thinking about the role my faith plays in my doula work.

When it comes to religion and prayer, I am generally a pretty private person. Do I go to church? Yes. Just about every Sunday. Do I pray? Yes. I try very hard to pray every day by myself and also as a family. Do I study my scriptures? I try to do this every day. I am not always successful, but lately I have been doing a better job at getting my scripture study in. Do I talk about my beliefs about God and birth and how they relate at doula interviews? Not usually. I have never been asked about my religious beliefs at interviews, and I have only met one couple so far who have taken a Christian based childbirth education class that focused on Biblical principles. Most of the time I meet couples who have taken courses such as The Bradley Method or Hypnobirthing or even nothing at all!

Because the couple I mentioned above were open about the fact that they were enrolled in a faith based class, I felt that they may be more welcoming to the fact that I consider birth to be one of the most spiritual experiences of my life and that I thank Heavenly Father every day for the wonderful experience I had giving birth to Lily. It truly was one of the most transformative experiences of my life, and I consider it one of the times in my life that I felt the closest to my Father in Heaven.

I have been debating whether or not to share this information on my blog for the past several weeks, but today I felt impressed to do so. Obviously some people market their practice, whether it be a doula practice, midwifery practice or a childbirth education practice, as a faith based practice. And why not? There is a market for that! There are people who want a doula, midwife or childbirth educator who is of their same faith. I don't think that will be my focus, at least not at this time, but if someone wants me to pray with them, or read scriptures, or share my feelings about God and birth and how they relate, I am willing and open to doing that.

After talking with the sweet couple I have been working with who have taken the faith based childbirth education class, I felt like I could admit to them that I always pray for my clients. I pray that I can be a good doula for them. I pray for them that things will go smoothly, but mostly I pray that I can be the best doula I can be for my clients. After all, they deserve my very best, and I can't do that without the Lord's help.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pregnancy, Labor and the Lunar Calendar

A few days or weeks ago, I updated my facebook status to say something like, "Doula work definitely comes in waves. I wonder if it has any relation to the lunar calendar."

I didn't expect anyone to comment because I am not one of those cool people who get tons of responses to my simple questions.

I did get a few responses from women who said they truly believed in this, and I also got a response from a nurse who said that she definitely saw a difference during the full moon. Coincidence? Who knows?

Seems like I have read a few articles lately that describe how women's bodies are tied to the lunar calendar. We have a certain cycle that occurs in our bodies that lasts roughly a month. Some people call it the "moon time". I have recently fallen in love with the term "Shark Week." I suppose before there were calendars and clocks and ipads and iphone apps to tell us when our periods would be, women had to look up at the moon and tell when their next period would be. "Wait. I had a period two full moons ago and I haven't had one since. I've been nauseous. Could I be pregnant?" Before there were home pregnancy tests, blood tests and facebook friends telling us to POAS (pee on a stick) there was the moon. Before I could get on Babycenter to enter my last menstrual period and have the website spit back a due date, there was the moon. Ten moons later, a baby would come.

Read two of my favorite articles about the menstrual cycle:

Birth Faith: PMS Tips

Organic Mama Cafe: It's THAT Time of the Month. Oh, Yes. That's exactly What I Mean! 

Is there something about a full moon that makes women want to copulate and therefore ten moons later, give birth? 

One of my friends told me today that this would be interesting research. As I am sure plenty of research has been done on this topic already, I might do a little digging around from time to time to share what I have learned. All I know is that doula work comes in waves. I can have three mamas due within a month of each other, and they all end up giving birth within the same week and a half time frame. And then nothing for another six weeks.

Out of curiosity I looked up what the moon was doing when I went into labor with Lily. I remember the midwife had told me we had been coming into the hospital in pairs all day. I had a fellow laboring mama, and that made me feel less alone. And I think the nurse even mentioned something like, "All over the world, at this very moment, there are about ______ other women in labor with you right now." I don't remember the number, but I thought it was really neat to think that there were other women doing the labor dance with me.

Lily was born June 4, 2010. So according to this Moon Phases Calendar, we were somewhere between a waning gibbous moon and a third quarter moon. The full moon had happened a week prior to Lily being born.

This is the May 2010 Lunar Calendar. It appears that May 27-29 were the full moon. Like the moon, I was feeling very full myself! I was hoping to have a baby by the time my birthday hit on May 31st.

This is the June 2010 Lunar Calendar. As you can see the moon was starting to wane. Gibbous means that the moon is more than half illuminated, or basically, it's smaller than a full moon but bigger than a half moon. It's the in-between moon. (I hereby dub that a Kristi term.) So I was in labor with Lily during an in-between moon.

A better explanation of the lunar cycles than I could ever give.

The days I was in labor and giving birth to Lily. On the 3rd about 3pm, I saw bloody show. By 7pm my water broke. By 9pm we made it to the hospital. (I was still in denial that I was having a baby due to no contractions) By 10pm I was starting to feel my 3-4 minute apart contractions, and by 2:41am on the 4th, I was holding Lily in my arms. 

So it's kind of nice to think about my belly like the moon. A few days prior, my belly was nice and full like the full moon. On June 3rd I started labor, and it's kind of neat to think about Lily descending into this world, and my belly becoming more gibbous. (smaller) And then my belly was like the half moon once she was here to greet this world. So true. Cuz it wasn't a nice quarter moon or crescent or even back to its original shape by any means. Still not. If I consider my original belly to be a new moon, I would say I am somewhere between the waning crescent and the new moon.

The next several weeks are going to be busy for me. I am not sure that any of the mamas I will attend will have their babies on the full moon. We had a full moon last week and the next full moon is supposed to be around March 8th or 9th. I don't think the first time mama that is due at the end of February wants to wait for the next full moon! Of course I won't wish it on her, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I need to feel competent

"She needs to feel needed, and I need to feel competent."

-Lu Hanessian Let the Baby Drive

This sentence made me want to quote it and write an entire post on the way mothers feel about their daughters when their daughters become mothers. I can see myself in this statement. I wanted so desperately to feel competent when Lily was first born. I wanted to do it myself. I wanted to figure it out for myself, and by golly I wanted to be good at it. I wanted to do it right. 

I quickly learned that there is no right. There is only doing the very best I know how to do. 

I continued reading. This woman shared her thoughts about her mother at 3 am one morning, a time of day that has its own mystique that only mothers and their tiny babes truly know about. How is it that when I read anything written by any mother, we all talk about "that" time in the middle of the night? 3 am. And it's not just a guess. I truly have been up at 3 am many a night.

She continues, "She wants me to know where she came from, who she was when I was born, what she expected and dreamed of, what broke her heart and what filled her soul."

I could quote the entire page. Word after word, line after line, it's as if this woman has put into words every thought from my mind and feeling from my heart. How does this woman know my soul?

It's because she is a mother. I am a mother. And even if they don't admit it, I bet my own mother and grandmother would feel these words pierce their souls too.