Emily is one of my closest doula friends. I was sad to see her scale back some of her birth activities to better fit her family's needs, as I know these activities bring her genuine joy and give her respite from the daily mom-grind. But seasons do truly come and go -- we cycle in and out of being ready and not being ready, for the opportunities life brings. Emily has such a loving, open heart -- I have every confidence, with patience and timing, she will achieve all her dreams.
Have you ever had a dream tucked so neatly inside of you that you almost overlooked it? Something that took years of baby-stepping, life experiences, and moments of solitude to really awaken? And then, after the dramatic awakening of a new beginning, the sudden need to tuck that dream securely away again – maybe for a season, but maybe forever.
Midwifery school was that dream for me. This dream was born when I became a doula 7 years ago. But I didn’t know it then. A little more than a year ago I began attending births with my midwife, my mentor, in her birth center.
It was seeing her in action that allowed me to unpack the fullness of my dream. We had many discussions about the depth of the calling of a midwife. The beauty and demands of the work. The logistics of schooling and clinical work. I had even taken a big step and applied to a midwifery college, for the Fall 2017 term.
Then life happened.
As my family has evolved, and the birth of my last child dictated the ebb and flow of my professional life, it became clear that I was needed more as Mom than Midwife. I had to make the choice to serve my family, before serving other families.
It is a strange feeling to give up on something that has just begun, but already begun to unleash the power of great transformation. The time had come to tuck that dream away again. So now, I sit and wonder if that dream has come and gone.
Is it forever?
Is it for a season?
Where can I hold the power of that dream while it waits?
Emily Willett is a doula, childbirth educator, and breastfeeding counselor and owner of Mommy Matters in Bakersfield, CA. She is the current chair of the Bakersfield Birth Network, and works at Bakersfield's only free-standing birth center. Always increasing her knowledge-base, she strives to familiarize herself with evidence-based information and practice. Emily is the mother to four children, including a breech baby born safely at home with the assistance of a midwife (when it was still lawful).
I have a notebook. It is just a basic marble-type composition notebook, except mine has pretty foil flowers and butterflies on it. I call it My Super Secret Notebook Full of Exciting, Wonderfully Helpful Information. Or My Super Secret Notebook for short. Truthfully, I only put the word secret in there to amp up the level of buzz surrounding my notebook -- there really isn't anything secret in there; it's more like my own secret club, I guess, because I am probably the only one who thinks there is value in what is written within the pages.
I use my notebook in a few different ways, which in my mind, all relate to my role and energy as a childbirth educator.
1. When I read a book, I always keep my notebook handy. As I come across meaningful phrases, ideas, or concepts, I copy them down in my notebook, taking care to also record the quoted source and corresponding page number. A couple quotes from this section: "Scent memory - rub your nose prior to learning something important that you want to remember" (Smart Moves; Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head, by Carla Hannaford). And another: "...living the focused life is not about trying to feel happy all the time....Rather, it's about treating your mind as you would a private garden and being as careful as possible about what you introduce and allow to grow there" (Rapt; Attention and the Focused Life, by Winifred Gallagher).
2. I like to keep my notebook around as I watch movies and TV. If I see something funny that I could relate to a class topic, I make a note of it. If I see something that is analogous to an idea we discuss in class, I also make a note of it. As a learning tool, I can introduce a concept in a humorous light which helps springboard a discussion. Or I can show 40 seconds of what seems to be an unrelated media clip and then flesh out similarities to a particular procedure, intervention, or idea without actually starting the discussion with the boring term or concept. An example I have in my notebook is a scene from Mission Impossible II. Tom Cruise is chasing after the heroine/co-star after she refuses to join forces with him against the villain. They are shown flying around winding cliff roads driving two very fast sports cars. All of his chasing causes her car to almost drive off a cliff edge. He jumps out of his car and into hers, pulling her out to safety just before her car takes a nosedive off the precipice. What does this represent? An Iatrogenic effect. Had he not been chasing her, she wouldn't have driven off the cliff; he "saved" her, yet it was he who put her at risk.
3. As I am able to attend conferences, workshops, or other classes, childbirth or otherwise, I take notes about things I want to remember, thoughts I have relating to the subject at hand, and even (this may be the secret part!) critques about the presenter or facilitator. A few good ones I have: "Lead by following." "Eye to eye, breath to breath, heart to heart." "The quietest person in the room is often the one most heard." Contrasted with: "What I felt was missing - no intros, no warm-ups, no outlet for embarassment, no explanation of terms, no talk of birth images or films that are watched..." and a big :( to go along with that last list.
Cultivating my notebook has taken years, and it is still a work in progress! As I mentioned before, it may not hold any value for any other person on the planet but me, and I guess that's what makes it my Super Secret Notebook Full of Exciting, Wonderfully Helpful Information. I highly suggest, no matter what you do in life, you seek to create one of your own.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)