Whew! The summer is almost winding down for me, as my summer classes have ended and my fall classes start in a couple weeks. In grad school news, I have completed all my tedious required public health courses (hooray!) and can really get into the meat of my MCH degree. In Anth, I will be taking a biocultural medical anthropology course again this semester and I am thrilled!
I was a doula for a friend, which was much more emotionally challenging than I ever could have imagined. I was a doula at the same hospital twice (the first time that has happened to me, believe it or not), with two very different experiences. I had my first extremely negative doctor-doula experience. I had a really excellent doctor-nurse-doula experience and a beautiful natural birth! I had my very first doula client cesarean section. I was paid full price for my doula services for the very first time. I went to a prenatal visit to the obstetrician office with a doula client for the first time. I had to return to a hospital within 8 hours of a birth to help with breastfeeding because a client still hadn't seen a lactation consultant. I was called to do back-up for another doula for the very first time. I labored at home with a VBAC mom for the very first time. I was at a hypnobirth and saw a mama walking and talking through 3.5 min apart contractions! I learned that sometimes what I would fear most is not what my client would fear most. I prepared a vegan postpartum meal for the first time.
Every woman, every labor, every birth are so different and I learn something from every one. Sometimes I mess up and I lay in bed at night dwelling on what I could have done differently. Sometimes people say really wonderful things that just stick with me and make me feel great about what I do!
I also finally heard back from DONA about my doula certification packet, which I sent in over two months ago. The reviewer finally received it, contacted me to let me know, and has already called me to discuss it. Turns out DONA is ridiculously nit-picky about their paperwork! If its required for them to be this way (and not just my luck of the draw), than I definitely do not what to be on the certifying committee! My reviewer is very nice, but she is asking me to go through my charts and make sure I write or check "no" as well as "yes," not just leave some blank, "so I know I didn't just forget to check something," and then scan and send her a new copy. Also, make sure you have every form of contact possible for everyone on your resources list, fellow certifying doulas, because I am being made to return to my list and find all such information.
I'm not worried that I will be certified (she said all my references has great things to say about me and all my essays are in order), I'm just made to wait to correct silly bits of paperwork. Sigh. They truly do a very thorough job, though - she was almost giving me an oral quiz about information I had written in my essays, i.e. "what can you do in the future so that your client feels differently?" or "why do you think she felt this way about that?" etc. Another thing I noticed when she was having some trouble pronouncing my client's last names was that all my certifying birth clients were from different ethnic backgrounds! Awesome!
Two more great things happened this summer - 1. I became involved with a breastfeeding task force in my county. It is a collaborative of public health workers, health workers, lactation consultants, researchers, and so forth who are working together to increase breastfeeding rates in our county, especially among low-income and minority groups. 2. I have also become involved with a local public health organization that received a grant from the March of Dimes focusing on their "Elimination of Non-medically Indicated (Elective) Deliveries Before 39 Weeks Gestational Age" in order to prevent premature births. I'm working on program planning and program evaluation. I'm excited to be involved!
I have a client currently, and will be on-call during the beginning of the semester, but was thinking of just being a back-up doula for most of my fall semester (which has become exceptionally busy). Unfortunately, I have been receiving inquiries for doula services! I know I should turn them down but its just so tempting... Do any of you have experience or advice about being a doula while taking a full load of graduate school courses and working? Advice would be greatly appreciated! :)