A few weekends ago, one morning while we were eating breakfast on our patio, it dawned on my husband and I that we are coming up on his 10 year mark in the military. TEN YEARS. We love our life being a military family, so we’ve always known that we wanted to do this thing for the long haul.
After 20ish years in… the dude can retire! So, that means he is halfway there.
In all this time, I have fully enjoyed being a stay at home mom, though there have been times that I have struggled, especially with not having more academic or career based achievements. I’m at a point now where I mostly just enjoy it. I don’t resent being a stay at home mom, it feels right for our family.
Still, I would be lying if I said that I don’t have dreams outside of this role, and after our conversation- I wondered what life would look like ten years from now. And by wondered I mean… panicked. Ten years isn’t a long time in my eyes, I mean, look at how fast the first ten went by!
I knew in that very conversation that I needed to figure out me, for me. Because while I love doing what I’m doing… I don’t want to look back and say, “man… I could have done both.”
So when I started to imagine myself doing something, my first thoughts were that it had to be something I love and feel passionate about, but it also has to have an aspect of flexibility and freedom. If there’s anything I love to see, it’s people who are truly their own bosses. I had to figure out how to start building “a career” while keeping in mind that we will face three more moves, multiple deployments, and an unknown amount of “temporary assigned duties” in the next 10 years.
With an academic background in social work, I’ve always imagined that I would find myself working with people in some sort of supportive role. But what? I didn’t know… so I decided to do something I do a lot; pray that it would be made clear to me.
And then sometime that following week.. I had a dream that my job was to visit postpartum moms and help them out at their house for an hour or two so they could rest, eat, shower… whatever. In the dream, I was heating up dinner, cleaning a kitchen, showing a mama that “S technique.” Making tea nearby for her while she nursed her baby and vented a little.
When I woke up I remember thinking, well that’s a literal dream job if I ever saw one. I honestly had no idea at that time, that it is in fact a job!
For the past year I have intentionally prayed over and over that I would see clearly the purposes of my soul. Yes, purposes. Plural. Because I deeply feel that we all have many.
Fast forward a week out from that dream, and something in me just made a snap decision to follow up on a path I had dog eared years ago as maybe, kind of, possibly one for me: to become a doula.
For those who may not be familiar, a doula is a person who provides emotional, physical, and informational support to parents (usually the laboring one, but many times both) as they welcome their baby into the world. A doula is not a medical professional, they do not provide medical care, or deliver babies. What they do is work hand in hand with the parents, and sometimes the birth team, to ensure that the families wishes are supported and advocated for if/when necessary.
They aren’t there to force you into a natural birth. They aren’t there to convince you not to get pain management. They aren’t there to make you feel like you’re not doing it right. It’s just the opposite: They’re there to support you, in whatever way you need, wholeheartedly. They’re there to be in your corner as you navigate the incredible journey that is bringing a child into this world.
During my last year of college, I became obsessed with learning every thing I could about birth and breastfeeding. Every time a research paper was assigned, I chose something in the world of reproduction. I read a lot of studies and journals… and though I hadn’t really come across too much information about doulas, I learned so much. Enough to advocate for myself a little, and enough to know I wanted to breastfeed, and that I needed familial support to do it.
The first time I heard about doula work was when I was pregnant for the second time. As a young military spouse living far away from home, I found myself pregnant only 12 months after our first daughter was born, and was enamored with the idea of having someone there to support me. I remember asking one of my close friends if maybe she wanted to become a doula for me. The more I learned about birth work the more I thought… maybe this is something I could do after I had my baby. I remembered my mentors in my final internship encouraging me to work specifically with breastfeeding mothers. I decided to look into this doula thing, and honestly? I was way too intimidated to actually try. I didn’t feel worthy of it, at all. I was so overwhelmed with even beginning to figure out how I could make it happen that I shelved it almost immediately.
But as time has gone on, my interest in birth, breastfeeding, postpartum, and parenting in general has only grown.
So I reached out in some Facebook communities: any doulas here? Can you answer a few questions for me?? I just wanted to see. What’s the process? Is it attainable? What’d YOU do?
And then suddenly, a door I remember feeling too heavy to push open, felt significantly less so. My questions were answered, and then light bulbs were turned on in rooms I never even knew were there.
I’m not at the end goal yet. I haven’t even started. And to be honest, the closer I get to starting the more I’m realizing that I’m a little (okay… very) nervous.
I’m scared I’ll fail.
I’m scared I’ll convince myself I’m not worthy of this after all.
But now, as I wait for my actual training to begin, I’m realizing you can be terrified and proud. I know this will be hard, but I don’t mind. I wonder how I’ll do it, but I know that I will.
And I’m hopeful that when I look back ten years from now, I’ll look back and say “see, I told you you could do both!”
If you’re dragging your feet to start that thing, or follow that calling, this is your invitation to join me in feeling that fear, but doing it anyway!
Because: “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear” – George Addair