Update #1: Doula, or Dontcha?
Woman. Wife. Mom. And Doula? That's right, friends, it is now official: I am a DOULA! I spent 16 long and exciting and intense and sometimes emotional hours this weekend doing a training with DONA (Doula Association of North America) to become a labor doula.
I am very excited to take this step, and I came to it after a lot of thought and careful consideration. Ever since giving birth to Luca, I've been revisiting my former idea of becoming a nurse. I found pregnancy and childbirth to be incredibly beautiful and empowering times in my life. I enjoyed being pregnant quite a bit, probably in part because I got off fairly easy and didn't have any complications. But even more so, I found childbirth to be an amazing experience. Like many women in America, most of what I heard while pregnant was horror stories and warnings: "Labor is horrible...get the epidural stat!", "My friend's cousin tore from front to back!", "I'd love more kids, but I wish someone else could birth them for me.". It was enough to almost make me scared, but I managed to keep a positive outlook and approach it with the mentality that I was going to take things as they came and allow myself to experience it with an open mind. And I'm so glad I viewed it like that, because now I can say, without a tiny bit of hesitation, that it was amazing and beautiful. Painful? Yes, even with the late-in-the-game epidural. Slightly scary? Sure. But amazing and beautiful none the less.
After giving it a lot of thought, I decided I was not ready to commit myself to years of school and more student loan debt when I have a perfectly good Masters degree I can and do enjoy using. But I wanted to do something. Birth was so powerful and amazing, I wasn't prepared to just let it be something I experience a handful of times. So I looked more into my options, and came to the conclusion that being a Doula is the way for me.
What is a Doula? Well, good question. And I could field, it, but I'll let the experts at DONA explain:
"What is a doula? Giving birth to a baby is so much more than a physical phenomenon; it engages parents-to-be in a transformational experience, a key life event full of emotion and meaning. A doula who accompanies a woman in labor mothers the mother, taking care of her emotional needs throughout childbirth. A doula also provides support and suggestions for partners that can enhance their experiences of birth. A postpartum doula continues that valuable emotional support and guidance, helping a family make a smooth transition into new family dynamics."
So now that I have done my 16 hours of classes, I am on my way! I can officially call myself a Doula now, but the road to Certification lies ahead. On the horizon: attending 3 births, a childbirth and breastfeeding class, and some paperwork. Once it's all done, I can proudly display those initials that mean I'm certified through DONA behind my name: CD(DONA). I'll keep updating more as I go along, but thanks to my friends who have encouraged me through this journey so far! I am so excited and consider myself honored to be able to be with women and their loved ones through this amazing life stage!!!
Update #2: 20 minutes that changed our lives.
We went out to dinner with my parents this evening, as we do most Sundays. I won't bore you all with the details of the hour and a half it took us to complete a meal we should have finished in 45 minutes (HELLO slow service!), but anyone with a young child knows they cope worse with endless restaurant waits worse than even the surliest husband ever could. So, as has been our routine lately, Luca got restless and we strapped on her little pink sandals and took her cruising around the restaurant lobby area. She's been getting stronger and better at cruising, only needing one hand or even a tiny pinky finger to hold onto for security and balance. So I walked around with her for awhile, letting go on occasion to see if she would take off on her own. No dice. She squatted right down every time, only to be grabbed by me before her hands could fit that (surely filthy) floor.
We got home, and our little Bird was ready to play. As is her usual M.O., she headed over to the stairs to hang onto the banister and climb up and down. So we were both sitting on the floor a few feet from her, and she was standing on the ground level, holding the banister. We called out, "Luca, come here!". She let go of the banister, and lifted one foot, moving it slightly without sitting down. We were SO excited. This was officially her FIRST STEP without assistance! But she wasn't done yet, because then she moved that foot two more times, pivoting in a circle while keeping the other foot firmly planted. Then she sat down and smiled, and everyone (Luca included) gave her a round of applause.
Feeling euphoric, we had her crawl over to us, and Darrick got her up to her feet. Sitting a few feet away, I called for her to come to me and...SHE DID! Yep, just like with crawling, she went from 0 - 60 just like that. Her first 'walk' was about 4 steps, and then she lurched forward and grabbed for me, unsure. I scooped her up and hugged her, and we praised her like mad (oh, to be a baby again and have everyone praise your littlest move or advance!). Smiling, she pulled herself up again. I turned her to face Darrick, he called to her, and she walked back to him. And a star was born!
It had only been about 20 minutes since she was nervously gripping my hand, unsure and afraid to try on her own, and here was our girl, toddling back and forth. The more times she completed this move, the more excited and pleased with herself she got, until finally she was laughing and smiling and clapping as she walked. Oh, what pride we all feel tonight!!!
Of course, I took a lot of videos, because I am THAT MOM. They were all done in dim light (it WAS 9 p.m.), and with our digital camera, so the quality sucks, but WHO CARES?!?!?! My kid is a walker!!!!! (PS: Sorry this video is sideways, but YouTube won't let me turn it around):
By the way, I SO think Update #2 is WAY more exciting than Update #1, but if I'd posted about the new walker in our household first, no one would have read about the Doula thing.