If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Doula Training Update

To become a certified doula I have to attend childbirth classes and a breastfeeding class in addition to the actual doula workshop I attended. Of course I will also need to serve as a doula for three births (only one of which can be a cesarean to count), read 5 books, write up my birth stories as well as an essay on the importance of being a doula. So it is no small process.

Luckily the program for teen moms in my area makes a lot of this possible and I don't need to arrange all of the logistics. This past Thursday we started our 7-week childbirth classes. The class is actually much smaller than usual, with only 7 or 8 teen moms (and 13 doulas-in-training!). I was hoping to get matched up with one of the girls as a mentor but alas they're aren't enough to go around. Pumpkin did get matched and I'm very happy for her. She is the type of person that needs a connection to make it real.

The first session was more of a meet and greet with paperwork so it wasn't much fun, however next week we get our actual childbirth educator. This morning I went to a 3 hour breast feeding class. Most teens don't breastfeed and while its not our job to persuade them it is our job to support them in their decision and to give them the information they need to make that decision. The discussion today brought back many memories for me. I loved breastfeeding but was not well supported. It came very easy to me, so all of the problems I heard about today were surprising. However I weaned Angel at 4 months even though I didn't really want to and I've always regretted that decision. I had been back to work for 2 months by then and had no support for pumping and storing in the office. It seemed like I was making things worse for all three of us (me, Angel and his dad who was home with him during the day). When I made the decision I was under the impression I'd have at least one more child and thought I'd be in a different position when that happened (one that supported breastfeeding). Unfortunately that never materialized.

I thought I'd share this poem by Sharon Olds on childbirth. Its been on my mind with all that I hear and see in these trainings.

The Language of the Brag

I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw,
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the centre of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.

I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.

I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around

my belly big with cowardice and safely,
my stool black with iron pills,
my huge breasts oozing mucus,
my legs swelling, my hands swelling,
my face swelling and darkening, my hair
falling out, my inner sex
stabbed again and again with terrible pain like a knife.
I have lain down.

I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and feces and water and
slowly alone in the centre of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.

I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,

I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.

-Sharon Olds


Julie said...

Hi, Brigindo. I love the poem. There's something about childbirth that just feels so heroic. I love the contrast of stanza four versus the last two.

You are doing very important work. I love hearing about it. I've said this before, but how I wish I had someone like you when I was a young mom. It was so scary. Instead of feeling support, I felt alone. It's nice to know there are people in the world like you who care enough to contribute the time and energy for those who need it.

drax said...

Whoa! "Woe to the enemies of mighty Brigindo. Cross not her blade lest ye lose your head, oh man."

Annie K said...

I love the poem. I wanted a natural childbirth, without medications, but my son was breech, so it was not to be. My son was lifted out of me, and my joy was extreme. I breastfed for a year, thinking I could wean him down to one or two feedings a day, but my milk dried up, sooner than I'd planned. Again, I loved the poem, and the poet's: take that Whitman and Ginsburg- I have done what you cannot! I've said it before, but I am proud of the choice you've made to be a doula.

Maggie May said...

i love love SO. i did natural childbirth with my daughter Lola, in a tub, and it was awe inspiring.