My Pursuit of Happiness

It’s nearly nine o’clock at night on a Sunday and I’m exhausted. But it’s one of those pleasant exhausted feelings – that sort of mentally blissed out way of being.

For two days I’ve been stuffed full of every kind of information about birth, women, and the feelings they so strongly feel (both physical and mental during birth) during the amazing even that we so simply call birth.

After talking and listening and doing like I haven’t in over a year (the last time I sat in a college classroom), I feel a strength and readiness to begin to pursue more strongly a dream I had been keeping at an arms length. There is so, so much I still want to learn and to see, some things I need to think about, and my future, as it stands now, seems fuzzy and unsure, but it’s all good. It’s like the future ahead of me is hard to make out because it’s clouded or foggy, but so bright it will take just a bit for my eyes to fully focus.

Let me come out of the vagueness of above and give it to you straight. I spend this weekend learning the beginnings of what I need to know to properly attend a woman as a doula (a labor support professional – a person who helps a woman through labor and birth). The workshop I attended this weekend is one step towards becoming a certified doula through the organization DONA. I have a few more steps to tackle, but one of the largest is attending three births.

And this is where I say that if you are in Maine (or know me personally) and would be interested in having a doula attend your birth, my services will FREE while I remain uncertified, because I am training. This does NOT mean I will be any less effective than a certified doula. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact me (either comment below with a way to contact you OR contact me via Facebook (if you know me in real life).

I also have a couple of other workshops left to attend and some reading to do, but I’m thrilled this workshop is what I did first. It has given me a confidence and thrill to see what I could be doing not just as a hobby, but as a job. I do not yet know where this path will lead, if it’s a minor detour or the beginning of a lifelong journey, but it is exciting and beautiful all the same.

I know I’m starting to sound like one of those goofy New Age people (and maybe I’m slowly morphing into someone like that), but sometimes those over the top cliches are what best describe what you’re experiencing.

I’m just happy.

And I wanted you to know.

This year hit me with a bit of a crisis. I had spent nearly five years earning a degree that I had suddenly thought to myself, “What if I never use this?” It’s a scary thought, in some ways, freeing in others. While I covet the chance to have my own classroom, to plan units, to guide students through one year of their teenage lives, I am also open to the idea that may not be my path, at least not yet or in the way I had initially thought.

What’s more, there’s grad school. I’m going. At some point. I just don’t know where or how or for what. I have a list saved in Evernote on my iPad listing all the possible programs I’d like to check out, ranging from straight up education to library science to creative writing (and everything in between, it feels). I just don’t know what will be right for me, because, as a friend at work pointed out, what you get your Masters’ in sort of determines what you do for, like, ever. That’s a bit of a heavy decision.

So, I haven’t quite known what to do with myself at the moment. I’ve been going after a goal nonstop for years now, and with that initial goal crossed off my list (graduating with a bachelors’ degree), I feel lost without something else to work towards. I needed, more desperately than I realized, I think, something to work on. And I think I’ve found it.

This weekend I’m attending a doula training course. A doula, in case you were wondering, is a labor support professional, a woman who helps laboring women have the best, most fulfilling birth possible, regardless of circumstances. She is an advocate, an advice giver, a go-between for the parents and caregivers, and, in many ways, a birth partner, helping to physically and emotionally support the laboring woman in the most amazing event of her life.

I could get into the what’s and why’s in my decision to pursue becoming a certified doula, but I don’t want to – it’s complicated and long-winded and I seriously doubt anyone wants to read my explanation. But I will say that I am utterly thrilled that I have given myself this opportunity. Maybe the most exciting thing about being an adult is that I can choose to do this. For the first time in a long time I feel like I’m making a really great decision for myself entirely on my own. I didn’t consult anyone – I just did it.

This is, I think, the first step into creating a future of which I have dreamed.

Last week I wrote about a , or, at least, that I had had a revelation. I mean to add more to that this week (thank goodness for vacations – it means I actually have time to do stuff), in regards to what I’ve changed in my parenting and what we’re doing in the home to help reinforce E.’s good behavior. But that comes a bit later (like, maybe later today or tomorrow). For now, I want to reveal  my second revelation.

I do not think it is every day that you are struck with what you believe you ought to be doing with your life. It is more than just what I want to do, but I believe I need to be doing.  So, I’ll start this with an open letter to several groups that are around our state, in particular the .

To all those who advocate for families and children:

When I was 19 I found out I was pregnant. It was not planned. I had just completed my freshman year of college. Thankfully, I was engaged to, in love with, and happy with the father (now my husband of nearly four years). But we were completely clueless. Because I fit in that demographic of young and poor, I was provided with a lot of services, from WIC to a visiting nurse to free childbirth classes. I was also introduced to Debbie, a home visitor from the Children’s Task Force, and her intern (whose name I can’t remember, but she was a total sweetheart).

Debbie came to our apartment once a month from the time I was roughly five months pregnant until last May, when my daughter was three years old. Each visit brought information on how my child should be developing, fun activities for us to do, loads of information on local services and events, and lots and lots of love, respect, and encouragement. While I was lucky enough to  have supportive parents and in-laws who were always there to help us, they were also a good hour and a half away and busy, Debbie was one more person I knew was in my corner, plus, the other support figures in our life wouldn’t have had access to the same information and resources Debbie did.

I often say there are a lot of contributing factors as to why I was able to graduate from college, and there are, but I truly believe that my ability to graduate would have been seriously hindered if not for Debbie and the services she provided. Instead of worrying about exams, papers, and books I needed to finish or read, I would have had to worry about transportation to doctors appointments (I had no car), money for food, housing, and healthcare, how to find a daycare, and, honestly, if I was getting of this parenting stuff right. Debbie offered all the information I  needed and reassurance that I was doing okay. She made me feel good about balancing school and raising my daughter. What she offered, a mix of practicality and kindness, gave me a boost towards success that I might have otherwise never gotten, resulting in a much different life than the one I have now (which is wonderful).  

Simply put, Debbie and those who do her job are amazing.

Thank you, very sincerely, from the absolute bottom of my heart,

Someone’s who’s life has been changed for the best.

And after being on the receiving end of that support and love for over three years, I’ve realized that I need (and very much want) to be on the giving end. I realize, to some extent, that is what I am doing now with my work (which is what happily propels me to work each morning), but I look forward to doing more as the years go on. While I can’t hope to be the person Debbie was for me to someone else, I’d love to make a go of it.

It’s something I think I could do well.