I’m beginning a new chapter tomorrow morning, which feels a little bit crazy considering I’m pretty sure I’m still in the thick of my current chapter. What’s interesting about life and seasons, though, is that you can’t always tell exactly what season or “chapter” you’re in, or even what it’s about, until well after it has ended. Some things are obvious plot points: I’m currently a stay-at-home-mom raising two very small people. But others, the things you learn along the way, the ways you change, the real story happening in each person’s story, those things aren’t always clear during the minute you’re facing them. Sometimes you think you’re on your way to one place, but then you step out and realize you’re somewhere else entirely, and it’s beautiful.
A new thing is starting tomorrow. I’m participating in a training this weekend to become a doula. Other than the prerequisite reading I’ve done and the passion for all things pregnancy, birth, and baby related that I’ve developed so far during my short career as a mother, this is the first step in a many-step process toward certification with DONA International.
I’ve wanted to become a doula since sometime after having my first daughter. Maybe before. I can’t actually remember when I realized I was crazy about birth. It’s something I’ve shaken my head in wonder at many times as I’ve told someone, “When you’re a high school junior or senior and you’re trying to decide what you want to do with your life, you don’t even know what you don’t know. You don’t even have a clue what’s out there!” I had no idea as an 18-year-old that birth could be magnificent and beautiful. I had always just heard it’s super painful and makes women yell mean things at their husbands. I had never heard of a doula, nor did I have a concept that women helping women give birth is ancient and natural and so incredibly helpful. That’s what a birth doula does. She supports another woman during pregnancy and birth. This weekend, I’ll learn a vast array of things, including how to comfort a mother in labor physically and emotionally, different positions and movements to have a mom try to ease pain or to speed or slow labor, and so many other things. But apart from the “bag of tricks” a doula comes prepared to use, her main function is to be there. Just to be a constant, familiar source of support and encouragement for another woman. Whatever each mom I work with finds helpful and supportive, that will be my job as a future doula.
I’ve attended one birth in which I was neither the mom nor the baby. It was last winter when my friend Idah delivered her beautiful little girl, now affectionately known as Laka. Idah welcomed my sister-in-law, Sarah, and me into one of the most profound moments of her life by asking us to accompany her during her labor and birth. That day was hard and tiring, but it was exhilarating. Helping Idah get through one more contraction, and then one more contraction, and then one more, all day until that moment that the doctor said “It’s a girl!” was one of the best days of my life. Knowing I got to be beside a friend while she worked harder than she has ever worked in order to meet a tiny person she loves in a way she has never loved leaves me speechless and grateful.
She did it. And I was there. What a gift.
I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. I can’t wait to see what this chapter will hold.