Monday, May 28, 2012

Finding a Passion

I haven't always been an over-the-top birth junkie. There was, in fact, a time in which I was quite normal and in which childbirth was just vaguely interesting to me.

When I was a child, actually, I wanted to be a veterinarian. This was not, I realized later, because I had any deep interest in healing sick and injured animals - it was just a love-affair (still ongoing!) with the wonderful and amazing works of British country vet James Herriot (if you haven't read these - go get them now!). Though, looking back, I now see that all of the chapters that fascinated me most were those dealing with any obstetrical situations - foalings, calvings, farrowings, etc. An interesting glimpse into the future, for sure, though I misinterpreted it at the time.

I spent various time throughout high school and college flirting with various lines of study - environmental science, biology, music, and patisserie - but I cannot say that I had a passion for any of them, a passion being defined as "anything that I want to spend masses of time studying voluntarily, apart from required assignments." So when I got married, I was glad to leave all of that behind. I have always loved being a homemaker anyhow, with or without kids (I love developing and practicing the arts of homemaking!), so there was no love lost when I left my studies behind.

But when we had our first child, all of that changed. During our pregnancy, I borrowed almost all of my midwife's lending library of books and videos, and I read voraciously. About a year after our baby's birth, I was still borrowing books and reading at least three at a time - and then, suddenly, I realized that I didn't just want to read "expecting parents" books. I wanted to read midwifery textbooks. And furthermore, I wanted to study it seriously! Around the clock! I couldn't get enough of it.

And so, another birth junkie was born! Several months later I attended my first birth conference, given by my second-midwife-to-be (where I got to hear Henci Goer and talk with Laura Shanley), and a few months later my birth blog was born. I was off and running.

At that time, I assumed that I would follow the standard pattern of birth junkie-ism: I would start a birth blog (done!), then train and work as a birth doula, and then eventually apprentice as a homebirth midwife. It looked like a fairly straight path. The fact that I had little to no time to work as a doula or midwife did occur to me, but I figured that that would work itself out. (I know that many moms work as doulas or midwives, but I am not good at multi-tasking like that - but at the time I figured that I would learn to love it.) There was also the slight fact that I am not a good people person and have few to none of the personality traits that make good doulas or midwives - but I figured that that too would work out. This was the standard path, after all! It would just have to work out.

But several factors intervened.

Firstly, our son turned one. And the terrible twos hit. (I don't know what this thing is about the "terrible twos" - it's really the "terrible ones through fours"). And it hit me smack in the middle of the eyes that I needed to get my head OUT of the birth world and into the world of hard-core parenting, where I desperately needed prayer, study, mentoring, and hard work (and still do). And so I made a hard decision - to deliberately neglect my birth-book habit of reading and read parenting books instead. This is something I still do - in fact, I have about five parenting books going right now ("Raising Real Men" - "Raising Godly Tomatoes" - "A Survivor's Guide to Homeschooling" - "Shepherding a Child's Heart" - "A Mom Just Like You" -  "The Five Love Languages of Children" - "The Key to Your Child's Heart"). And I actually haven't read more than one or two birth books in the past couple of years. This was a major change for me, and a very positive one. I needed to change my focus, and I needed the help of godly parents who had gone before me. For this reason I am also very thankful to be surrounded by so many godly older moms at my church, who have done an awesome job raising their little ones and are now a wonderful resource for me as a younger and struggling mother.

Secondly, our other two little ones came along, meaning two more rough pregnancies and life adjustments.

Thirdly, we began to homeschool - which meant even less time for blogging or thinking of other things to do with my non-existent spare time.

But over the past couple of years, the question has continually come up - "I'm a birth junkie... I need to do something with this passion. What can I do? What can I do?"

And in His own good way, God has given me answers and put that question to rest for now.

Firstly, a little over a year ago, I had the opportunity to take a great weekend doula training in Phoenix. I thoroughly enjoyed the training (it's fun! do one!), but most importantly, it revealed quite clearly one important fact - I am not made to be a doula. I had always suspected that I would be a rotten doula, but the fact came home to me very solidly when the midwife teaching the training assigned the class to take turns giving each other massages (a classic doula technique). My reaction was something along the lines of, "Oh, my goodness. Gross. No. Please, no." And thankfully my baby, who was with me, generously and kindly decided to scream during that part of the session, giving me a very thankful and graceful exit. But I realized that someone like me, who has definite issues with touching people should not be a birth doula!

That was a wonderful realization, and it gave me a lot of peace. I had had it in my mind that I should work as a doula, regardless of whether or not I wanted to - because that's just what birth junkies do! But it has been made quite clear to me that I would not make a good doula, nor would I enjoy the work. God may develop me over the years into someone who would make a good doula - or midwife, as the same issues apply - but it is not for now.

Secondly, I have realized that my calling is 100% at home. Right now, with three children - and the possibility of more - plus a home and a homeschool, I have absolutely zero time for outside hobbies as large as any type of birth work. I would have to seriously neglect some aspect of my home or family (or personal sanity) in order to pursue any type of birth work, and there is no need for that (not to mention the fact that it would harm my family). And God has given me perfect peace about that.

As a matter of fact, I have absolutely no idea what type of birth work I would choose to do were I at a place to pursue a job or a career. I do not have the characteristics needed to work as - or to enjoy work as - a doula, a midwife, a lactation consultant, or a childbirth educator. Nursing sounds fun, but there's the slight issue of my fainting at the sight of needles - and of having to obey orders from doctors that go against every rule of medical ethics and good medicine in the L&D ward (L&D nurses that I know tell me that this is an incredibly stressful part of their jobs).

But, as I mentioned, right now, the question is closed. I am a worker-at-home, a homeschool teacher, and a wife and mother. Unless God specifically calls our family to another plan, this is my calling for now and - most likely - for many, many more years to come. Thankfully, after many years of questioning, praying, wondering, and researching, I am completely at peace with leaving my ambitions as a birth worker (of whatever type) alone and just proceeding as a homemaker who does a wee bit of birth blogging as recreation. That is God's plan, and it is good.

And later.... who knows? The possibilities are endless. But I shall leave that with God, and for the future. For now, it's one less thing to worry about - and that is a blessing.


  1. You are a birth worker - you are a blogger! I think that is making a contribution.

  2. Ah, shucks - You're so sweet, Laura!!! :)

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