hey there

Again with a long gap in posting. I keep thinking I should just give up, but I still like my blog, so instead I’ll just let it be what it is. It might become less about the kiddos and more about the stuff I make. Or maybe write, if I ever get around to writing all the ideas in my head. Or just continue to be random and sporadic and read by my mom and a few of my friends. That’s okay! I don’t want to be a viral sensation anyway. I don’t want to live in a fishbowl with everyone evaluating all my life choices.

So, here’s a listy list of what’s up these days:

– I have two births this summer. Yes, really! One is soon. I’m excited to get back to doula work but a bit nervous about the Clara situation.
– The Clara situation is that this girl does not like to sleep on her own, won’t take a bottle, doesn’t nap much, and needs a lot of snuggles. It’s lovely, but also challenging. I do have other children and a raging sleep deficit. Aiee!
– But she’s still the cutest little muffin you ever did see.
– Rowan is very two.
– Lucy has her preschool orientation tomorrow. She’s also in soccer and doing a great job. She wants to be an architect these days, and I keep finding very interesting structures built out of all sorts of things.
– I’m still into knitting. I have many projects in my queue from tiny sweaters to grown up sweaters. Lucy has chosen sweaters for everyone in our family, so I’m going to be busy for a while.
– I want to be into sewing too, but there is just not time. It’s way easier to pick up knitting than it is to pick up sewing. So alas, all those ideas have to just wait.
– Can it please be sunny and warm outside? We’re so ready.

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lent sharing 2014

Since I started my doula work three years ago, my understanding of God has been blown wide open. I used to have a pretty clean idea of God – a sense of lots of edicts from on high and having his people keep out of trouble. Once I had spent a few nights in the labour and delivery ward with birthing mothers I had to reject that theory because it just doesn’t reflect the full truth of God.

My encounters with God had been mostly cognitive with a side of emotion: for example, the epiphany that Aslan represented Jesus when I was a child, or being bowled over by John Donne’s religious imagery in university. Those were amazing experiences.

But when I spent hours rubbing a labouring mother’s back while my own back ached to death, reminding her to slow down and breathe, when I was entrenched in the astounding miracle of new life while face to face with tears and sweat and blood and pain, then everything changed. God isn’t clean and thoughtful. Aslan is not a tame lion. Women are made in the image of God, and the work to bring babies into the world is holy, mystical work even while it’s smelly and gross and awful.

Before I became a doula, I didn’t understand the biblical references to God as mother. Even when Lucy was born, and I was smacked with the reality that I had birthed a living, breathing piece of my heart, I still didn’t understand. Holding the hand of a woman while she is in the grip of contractions so strong they feel like they will rip her in two, hearing her say “I can’t do this, it’s too hard, make it stop” while she does it, stares her pain and fear in the face and pushes through it, has shown me the power of the love of God. This isn’t the tender moment of rocking peacefully. This isn’t Silent Night. This is the love of God that roars like a lioness and lets herself be turned inside out to bring life to this world.

These women have given me the most awesome gift – while they pour their life into birthing their babies, they have shown me the wild, fierce, powerful mothering God.

cd(dona)

That’s my new official title.

I’ve written before about my process to become a doula – it started while I was in labour with Lucy and listening to the other women in the hospital give birth without support. I started the process by doing most of the required readings, and reading about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and brand spanking newborns fueled the fire. In May 2011 I took my DONA Birth Doula workshop and started looking around for mamas to work with, since I had to have three qualifying births and it often takes quite a few to get them all signed. I had to cancel Lucy’s second birthday party to attend my first birth – I’m sure that there will be many more milestones that I’ll have to miss as long as I’m working with birth. That’s the nature of the work. I learned very quickly how hard it can be to work in such an emotionally-charged area, especially with my own young family. I’ve had to decompress and cry after every birth, and I’ve learned invaluable things about women, myself, and people in general. I have seen how strongly childbirth impacts people – obviously the women themselves, but the people around them are also heavily influenced. Birth stories are one of the few places where we have retained an oral culture (look at me mixing my English degree with my doula training), and I make a habit of allowing people the space to tell me their stories whenever I can. Sometimes, when given the opportunity, it’s like a compulsion to get the words out to someone who understands what they’re talking about.

This spring I finished up my childbirth education course and my breastfeeding course, then wrote up all my paperwork and sent it in. I did a phone interview a few weeks ago, and last night I got the call from the DONA certification committee that I’m a certified birth doula.

Of course, now I have another baby coming so I’ll need to take another break. I’m thinking about where to take my birth work next – I’ve thought seriously about midwifery, but it’s a very demanding program and it’s an understatement to say that it would be a challenge to add it to my life in the next little while. I want to do more training in breastfeeding support, possibly becoming an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) because we definitely need more of those. I’m also thinking a lot about the big picture – I love being able to make a difference to individual women and I will continue to do so, but I also believe that the culture around childbirth and motherhood has a lot of flaws that need addressing for the health of society as a whole, and I’m not sure how best to dip my toe into those waters.

I’m thrilled to have completed my initial certification. It feels like I’ve made it to a major milestone. And there is no way that this is the end of the road for my birth education and the expansion of my knowledge and (hopefully) influence. There is more to come – I am too passionate to let this sit.

And of course, if you need a birth doula or just someone to talk about birth and babies with, I’m your woman.

what is up

A listacle post of the things spinning around my brain. Some of these things I think should be entire posts by themselves, but I just don’t seem to get to it. So perhaps I will come back to them, perhaps not. At least you can have a little update.

– It is a hot hot day in July, and it will be for the foreseeable future. So we are going to the beach with our lovely friend Amanda!

– We were at Sam’s parents’ house for the weekend and had a great time.
Pool time!

– I’m 16 whole weeks pregnant now. Proof:
Bump.

– This is the month that we get our house! I have paint colours and the IKEA catalogue bouncing around my brain. I may or may not do a proper inspiration board and post it. But here is our lovely backyard!
We popped by the house that will be ours in a month to get some measurements and things. This is going to be our backyard, minus the trampoline but including the tree house. I have no words for how amazing this will be.

– I’ve been doing a lot of reading, both in print and online, about birth culture and the things that sabotage women’s choices and options when it comes to reproduction. I could write a book. Or several. I plan to get into some of that here, but it’s going to take a lot of thinking and then a lot of editing before I’m brave enough to hit publish. I’ll just hint at it by saying that if over 90% of women in Canada are lying on their backs to push out their babies, it is no wonder we have all the complications that we do.

Okay! It’s time to pack up for the beach. I hope you are having a lovely summer!

the day this doula found out she was pregnant

1. Hmm, shouldn’t Shark Week have started by now?

2. Check iPod app. Shark Week is due that day.

3. Next morning, no signs. Start wondering, but realize that life has been unholy stressful. Blame stress.

4. While Child A is at preschool and Child B is napping, only a couple of hours later, start feeling that particular brand of anxious curiosity. Can do nothing but stare at the screen that says “one day late.”

5. Wake up Child B, pick up Child A, bring them home, eat lunch, cheerfully announce a walk. We’re out of bananas anyway. (We’re always out of bananas.)

6. Stare at eight hundred bazillion options for pregnancy tests at the drugstore. Child A starts pulling condom boxes off the shelves. Grab store brand test, return condoms and offer hurried explanation to bellowed questions of “WHAT DO THESE DO? CAN WE GET SOME?” and think “there’s a good chance it’s too late, darlin.”

7. On five-minute walk home, think “that was a waste of money” while shaking from head to toe with aforementioned brand of anxious curiosity.

8. Put Child B down for a nap, negotiate Child A into quiet time. Drink several gallons of water.

9. Pee on stick. Look at stick. Freak out at stick as line #2 gets really non-negotiably dark pink.

10. Text doula a string of incomprehensible nonsense, possibly including “I’m pregnant,” possibly not. She responds with the correct mix of calm and congratulations.

11. Call Women’s Health and go through midwifery intake.

12. Bounce up and down with wide, staring eyes until husband gets home.

13. Show husband the test while he’s holding Child B. Thankfully husband is not the type to drop children in shock.

14. Buy five new books for birth book stash, because it’s only logical.

The end.