the diaries of a doula: when the going gets tough
here i am. writing more and more as my mind has all of this STUFF in it. welcome to the world of birth work, where we are constantly evolving, learning, being humbled, being surprised, feeling confident, feeling confused, and a multitude of things in between.
birth work, just like birth itself, can be tough. don't get me wrong, i love my work. i love my work and my couples SO dearly and know it is my calling. i am good at it. i enjoyit. i love it. but i also find it to be tough tough tough at times. i read a quote from beth moore once that read:
"I often think God assigns hard & wearisome elements to our callings to keep us from loving what we do more than we love Him."
it's no secret i love Jesus, so this clearly spoke to me. and it's also no secret that sometimes birth work is hard. hard because i get tired- literally and figuratively, hard because sometimes we see hard things, hard because sometimes (many times!) i just simply don't have the answer, hard because sometimes it's heartbreaking, hard because sometimes we see things and experience things that simply are wrong.
sometimes (every time) it's miraculous work to be a part of. sometimes it's truly EASY. sometimes i have the biggest high i could have ever experienced and wished there was a way to bottle that oxytocin high up and sell it on the black market. everyone would be a junky. sometimes it's hard and easy at the same time. every time it's victorious. every time it's incredible strength i witness. every time i can't help but feel beyond blessed to do what i do. but sometimes it's hard in the very same breath.
for you mamas who have been through labor and birth, you know what i mean. you've experienced those same exact emotions and feelings. it's good but it, well...sucks sometimes. it's good but it doesn't always feel good. as a birth worker i often experience the same benchmarks as moms do. it's super fun! i love it! oh! dang! this is hard! woah! it's hard but good! i don't know if i can do it anymore! woah! i'm doing it! WOAH! the fruit of my labor is pure and unadulteraded JOY!
what do i tell moms when they are in the midst of the really hard stuff? the "i don't think i can do it" stage? the "this is too much for me" stage? the "i am over this" stage. i re-focus them back on their bodies. away from their minds. connect them with their babies. change their envirionment. get them back in the zone.
really: i get them back to what they were designed to do.
what has God done for me in the midst of the times where i felt a heavy burden? a care provider who flat out lies to a mom? clear care that is not evidence based? a mom who is heartbroken at the loss of an experience she desired? holding a mom's hand as she labors and brings into the world a baby who has already met Jesus?
really: He has brought me back to what i was designed to do.
He has clearly given me skills. a calling. in the midst of those skills and that calling, i aim to glorify Him. how can i do that with a broken heart? with a weary soul? when the going gets tough? PRAISE HIM for the work He has done and is doing and how His ways are not my ways. thank Him that that is true, my ways are so one-sided.
as a doula my job is to not have all the answers. to not pull every trick out of my bag (although there are some labors where this is necessary). my job is to be. just be. there's a study that i always remind myself about before going to a birth where laboring women had more positive outcomes simply KNOWING there was a woman standing behind the curtain in the hospital- not even providing actual physical or emotional support to the family, just being there. woah. it's not that this woman was pulling everything she ever learned at every training she ever attended, she was simply there. i remind myself before walking into anyone's birth space. my job is to be there. just be. what that looks like varies from birth to birth, but my goal is to just be.
and you know what? i've said it before and i'll say it again. birth is always an AMAZING parallel for life in general. what kind of support, at the heart, can we provide? to just BE there. think of the times in your life when you've been through hard stuff. heartbreaking stuff. miscarriage. loss of a job. loss of a relatonship. confusion over your career or your calling or or or or... what was most helpful? what do you wish you had more of? someone who didn't feel the urge to break out every trick in their bag...someone who was okay just to be. just to sit there with you in the hard stuff and say: yeah, i hear you. it IS hard. i'm here.
what can we do for others in these positions? just be. be available. be willing. pull out things from our bag when they are needed, but to be okay being someone who just is. who sits in the hard and revels in the good. who can mourn and celebrate alongside you.
this is birth work. i can just be. i always just am. even when i have to push into higher gear and DO, i still simply am. when the going gets tough in labor, sometimes i just am. i sit and validate and can just be. other times that can kick me into "do" mode, where my words and my support are manifested in different ways. but i the midst of that. i just am.
when the going gets hard for me as a birth worker. i remember that i can just be. in those feelings and questions. just be. and know that i have built a community around myself that is willing to just be with me. this is the art of community. of life.