Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Cure is Happiness and Visa Versa

A while ago I was speculating that my bad attitude was costing me jobs. I was feeling really cranky about the whole birth thing, after a year of seeing a whole host of things that left me feeling disenfranchised, to say the least. I have always had a really good interview/hire rate, but towards the end of the year I lost a few jobs to what I am sure was my inability to remain neutral.

Now it's 2008 and I have gotten the green light from all four of the families I have interviewed with. It's not the income that makes me happy but the realization that I am coming across as potentially really good labor support, which I know I am;-) Two of those interviews I was accompanied by one of my partners, M, who is totally different from me but amazing and wonderful just the same. She is what you would think of as a doula: long, flowy hair, no makeup but naturally so pretty, always a hugger and a source of positivity. I am more the doula anti-christ: mascara, lip liner, blond highlights, acerbic and honest. True, I am a home-birther on the inside; I just don't look like it on the outside. But believe you me, I love what I do and I feel strongly that it is what I was meant to do.
There is a mom at my kidlets preschool who is about 100x fancier than me. I like nice clothes but I am usually parading my sweaty ass around town in workout gear. She always looks perfect. Always full makeup, always a complete outfit (including high heels) and a matching handbag. One day her and I and another mom were sitting in the schmoozing area after drop-off (come on, it's a Jewish preschool!) and the subject of vaccinations came up. I am always hesitant to talk about these things with people I don't know very well, especially in a school setting. All of a sudden fancy mom started telling me about her 2 home births and how her mom is a home birth midwife! See, see, you never know. Lesson learned.

I digress, I know. When I was in high school I had an English teacher who told me I was smart but I had too many ideas and my writing wasn't focused. He was right. But then again, he taught a class where our "big" assignment was to interpret the lyrics to our favorite song. Wanna guess what I chose? Think black eyeliner and hair in the 80's.
At least it wasn't "Pour Some Sugar on Me."
The moral of the story is I feel really happy right not and it is being reflected back to me by the clients I am working with. So there!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Who needs an epidural when you can eat chocolate?

For starters, here's something wonderful: cheap red table wine and chocolate covered blueberries. Seriously good. I have very little interest in a wine and cheese tasting, but I sure wish someone would do a wine and chocolate tasting. Now there's something I would pay money for.
I now return you to our previously scheduled conversation.
As I mentioned last time we spoke, I have gotten involved with BOLD, an acronym for Birth on Labor Day. It's a fantastic organization whose goal is to make maternity care more mother-friendly. BOLD is a grassroots movement that uses the arts to empower communities to educate themselves, speak their truth about birth and finally to take action in regards to maternity care issues.
The foundation of BOLD is Birth, an amazing and inspiring play written by Karen Brody. Now for the third year, many cities around the world will stage performances of this play as fundraisers for their own grassroots organizations. After the play, they would also have a talkback, essentially a panel discussion about the current state of birth with members of that community, such as OB's, midwives, doulas, etc. My job is Performance and Talkback Coordinator. I am the behind the scenes person that will help all these communities ( hopefully many this year!) make this happen.
One of the things I have to do is filter through this email account and do alot of sending and receiving and lots of other techy-type stuff that is, let me tell you, way different than cooling a mom's head in labor and reminding her what a great job she is doing! Though maybe, as I sit here and write this, I will end up "doula-ing" these groups through their birth of Birth. Hmmm. Anyway, so yesterday I was sitting at my desk going through this inbox (which is very vast) and i see an email from Ina. Ina! Ina May! Holy shit! I could email Ina May! This thought sent shivers of joy down my spine and I was truly excited for the rest of the day. By the way, if you are reading this and you don't know who Ina May is, please, please, run to your nearest bookstore and grab Spiritual Midwifery. Please. Tell them the crazy doula sent you.

So here I am, at the beginning of this great new journey with BOLD, with a binder full of clients having babies and births, and for the first time in a while feeling fully optimistic. Of course, it could be the wine and chocolate. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Are you hip with HIPPA?

Ok, seriously, that title is the absolute most ridiculous thing I have ever written. If my husband ever read my blog (which I assure you, he does not) he would laugh at my cliche-ness. Anyway.

It's kind of a strange thing to blog about being a doula and yet keep all the intimate details of my clients private. I can never say: "So I was at this birth last week and all these lame things happened" because what if my client read it? Do I really want her to know that working with her was excruciating? That it made me consider never attending a birth again? (Ok, part of me does. But don't tell her.) No really, all of my clients sign a confidentiality form letting them know how seriously I take their trust in me. So I am left to talk about how I see doula-ing and birth in general, but not in reference to this or that.

My oldest and dearest friend was here in Portland visiting this weekend. She is a blogger that has some serious readership. Like thousands. Many thousands. She said I should have 2 blogs; this one and a private one. One where my identity is hidden so I can rant about whatever I want without having to worry. Great idea, but seriously, there are already too many things to do in an already way too short day.

She did teach me how to add pictures and all that stuff that my left-brainedness can't come up with on it's own. So lookie here:
I have recently gotten involved with this fabulous organization. More details to follow. I promise.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Repeat: Always Press Save

Did you hear me? Did I hear myself? Why do I not learn?

On New Year's Day I spent all this time writing what I considered to be a beautifully crafted essay on my work in 2007.

Then someone made it all go away. It was an accident and I am not mad, but truthfully, it kinda sucks.

The gist of what I said was this: I attended 13 births in 2007, the first and last of which were c-sections, as well as 4 others in between. Seriously, that is really depressing. Here we are, thinking we actually make a difference, and in the end, not so much.

I was having a conversation with another doula today and we were talking about how part of our job is to "frame" these events for our clients. We help them process the events to they walk away feeling like the outcome was justified or that at least they did what they could. But how can I frame an almost 50% surgical birth rate in 1 year? My first year, not only was my c-section rate 0% ( out of 14 births) but I had 100% natural births! What has changed?

I think part of it is that the average person hiring a doula has changed. It used to that most everyone who hired labor support did so because they wanted help having an unmedicated birth in a hospital setting. Now that doulas are so much more a part of the general consciousness surrounding birth, more people are hiring doulas who have very little expectation of "natural" for their births. What's better? Good for the mother, good for doulas overall, bad for individual doulas who have to bear witness.

I feel thankful that I get to make a difference. I just look forward to making a bigger one, I guess.