Yes, it is no secret: I am NOT pregnant. But what I am is a birth ball lover. Originally purchased for my DONA doula training workshop, it has become a close friend of mine as I continue to work on school work from home. It's so easy for me to stay slouched over in a chair for eight hours a day without this thing. Here are five ways why I think birth balls rock:
1. Helps open up your hips. If you are pregnant, this will help make room for your baby to descend into your pelvis.
2. Helps straighten your back. This will help keep your body symmetrical.
3. Can lean over them and rest your head on them. You can do this during contractions or pushing. I also find this especially helpful to do during painful period cramps.
4. Increases blood flow to the uterus. This can be compromised when seated for long periods of time.
5. Can also be used for exercise! It's true: a birthing ball and exercise ball are basically the same thing. I use mine when completing at-home workouts.
What are some ways birth balls have helped you?
His timing, not mine.
I keep on telling myself this because I believe it's true. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." My doula journey has been something that I've forged mostly on my own without the help of others. I decided to pursue it, I sought out a workshop, I made an Instagram and posted about it on Facebook, I reached out to Chicago Family Doulas, I got the job, I decided to move to Chicago temporarily...etc, etc. You get the point: I haven't had much help. And I do not say that to boast, because truly, having a mentor during that time would have been super nice! But, now I'm in a place where I have a doula mentor (my boss at CFD, Anna) and have started to make connections with other doulas via social media. I'm starting to work my way into the birth world, one step at a time. This is not to say that I haven't had the SUPPORT of others, because I've had plenty of that! Especially my friends, who encourage me, and my mom, who is letting me live with her in Chicago while I'm here.
Back to the whole God's timing thing, I've really had to trust in that recently. In February, I sent an email out to many doula agencies in Pittsburgh with my resume and information in hopes that someone would be looking to hire a doula. Everyone I heard back from was not hiring at the time. I was discouraged. I believed that no one would EVER hire me because I'm twenty years old-- what do I know about birth?? So, the next step was reaching out to a volunteer organization, Genesis of Pittsburgh, who said YES! We need more doulas! I was so happy, but for financial reasons, it would be nice to make a little money off of this work. And, I didn't know if anyone at Genesis even needed a doula.
Fast-forward about a month to when the pandemic started to really affect us. Most doula agencies had decided to offer virtual services, so I reached out to a doula agency in Chicago, asking if they needed more doulas, thinking I could stay in Pittsburgh and be a virtual doula for an agency. To my utter dismay, my current boss replied to my email "Yes! When can you talk?" I didn't think I would even get a response!!! It was in that moment that I realized nothing was keeping me in Pittsburgh since the rest of the term + summer school got moved to online, so I thought, why not just go to Chicago for the time being?? After talking to Anna the next day, she hired me on the spot. HIS timing, not mine. God knew that it was perfect timing because I had been thinking about what to do for the summer, and He gave me this wonderful gift of having the opportunity of being mentored by Anna and working with CFD.
In August, I will return to Pittsburgh for round three (and a half) of nursing school, where I will volunteer with Genesis. I'm hoping to send my resume out to agencies again once I get more experience in hopes that I might get a different response, but I know that God is in control. What He sees best for me will happen, and the hardest part is trusting in that. For everything, there is a season.
Doing the doula and taking care of yourself
As I sit here typing this, the sun is (finally!) shining outside of my window and I finally feel like my Vitamin D supplement is kicking in. However, I'm also sitting here working through some anxiety. The DONA birth doula certification process is no joke-- as it should be. It's challenging and forces me outside of my comfort zone in a good + hard way. I've been reaching out to several different birth doula agencies and volunteer organizations with little response, which can be discouraging at times. I've been reading and writing and doing more reading. On top of that, I have work I need to complete for school. I often wonder when I will even finish my certification. It's easy to get discouraged, and even frustrated, when an agency doesn't respond or you are met with a "Sorry, we're not hiring..." response.
Something I'm challenging myself to do is practicing self-care throughout this process. Sometimes, it looks like putting down the pregnancy book I'm reading and watching an episode of Friends or taking a hot shower break in the middle of working on my labor support essay. Myself, and many other healthcare professionals, tend to be chronic overachievers with big dreams. I have to constantly remind myself that I cannot achieve, nor reach my goals, without taking care of myself first. This trumps all. If I do not take care of myself, I cannot take care of others well. Period. If this sounds like you, please take heart in the fact that you are not alone! We need to remind ourselves that the certification process will not last forever, and once we're officially certified, it will all be worth it. BUT. Do not forget about yourself. Do not forget about that part of you that wants to go out for ice cream or hang out with your friends. I find that taking breaks makes me much more productive once I return to work, and I encourage you to try taking frequent breaks if you haven't already. And remember: You've got this!!!!