It's been an interesting week.
I had a really hard time after the last couple of posts about money. I offered to help a couple of women with stuff and they happened to read my blog and asked how much my help would cost. That was really hard for me and so I pulled away for a few days.
I've been writing since I was about 8 years old. Nearly constantly. I have reams of paper, dozens of notebooks and journals from all these decades.
When I don't write, the words/thoughts/feelings/emotions back up inside and roll around touching each other and while writing brings clarity most of the time, not writing sometimes brings more. This was one of those times.
Friends shared ideas about the money dilemma and probably the best was Erika who said to tell people if I offer to help, it is free; if they ask for help, I can ask for payment (while also recognizing options including free). I think that was very helpful. She also suggested I make up a price list so people would know what they were asking for - a certain amount for 10 pages of records or an hour of time in consultation (I already have that fee - $150 an hour).
I need to get myself some rates for emails and phone calls and figure out tactful ways to ask for payment when those modes of communication come in. When balking about charging for these things, Sarah asked, "Do you think the chiropractor or acupuncturist wouldn't charge for going over records? for giving a second opinion? for spending an hour on the phone?" and she is right. They wouldn't EVER spend an hour on the phone. Ever. They would all suggest an in-office appointment. And that's what I should do, too.
So, I practiced. And have already gotten two women to come in next week instead of my spending 90 minutes each with them choreographing their cesarean or helping them figure out how to find a decent midwife in the midwest. It's hard to say, but I am worth the money for my time.
In this light, I enrolled in school today.
I had an epiphany a few days ago and needed to let it wash throughout my spirit before sharing it here. I have long been told I should be a therapist, but midwifery was my calling, so I pushed it aside over and over - never really giving it much thought. And then, in midwifery, I have become an ear to whom birth-abused women come to over and over. The light was gradual, but became a beam of intensity during the last couple of weeks as I have spoken with no less than 7 women about their birth-abuse - and most have had zero success in finding a therapist that understands what she is going through.
I made the decision one mornng last Sunday and once I got into the office, had an emergency Pap to do on a woman who proceeded to tell me her birth story of 9 months ago (she BEGGED me to tell her story when I asked permission). She spoke of her doula not translating for her when she said, "no!" to vaginal exams or vaginal manipulations. The doula ignored her pleas to tell the doctor no for her. The woman said she doesn't know why she didn't just tell the doctor herself except she'd hired the doula for that job and it didn't register that she should make the doula leave until it was too late. During pregnancy, the woman and her husband specifically told the doula they did not want the husband between the woman's legs at all - especially during the birth - yet, as the woman was pushing, the doula kept imploring the husband to come down and "look! there's your baby's head!" and when the woman snapped at the doula to STOP IT and keep her husband at her shoulders, the doula acted as if she didn't hear and would repeat the imploring to see the baby with the next contraction! The husband, thinking the doula knew what she was doing, did what she told him to do.
Mom had a cesarean shortly after this began.
Her story, my listening, her comforting, her feeling heard all validated in so many ways my path. Has it been towards this all along anyway? Was midwifery just a tiny part of the whole scheme?
Can you just imagine a midwife/therapist? Doing therapy throughout the pregnancy and having your therapist be your midwife? I'm sure some would find that repulsive, but for others, very appealing! Or, a woman coming from a cesarean, a hospital birth, a botched homebirth - needing someone who really "gets" birth from the very inside - who believes in women's abilities and doesn't buy the crap they docs/midwives told her was their truth? Someone who can go over their chart with them and discuss and work through the pain in a clinical way instead of merely an empathetic way?
I'll be very selective in what births I do for awhile as I embrace school and get my footing in a different arena. I signed up for an English Composition course (Critical Reasoning & Writing), Cultural Anthropology, and Intro to Psych. I am just a couple few units shy of an AA, but I had been headed towards an AA in Spanish 15 years ago, so have to change tracks and go in a different direction. (I have over 60 units now) I'm meeting with the BA program counselor Monday to see exactly what path to take to get where I want to go.
I'm excited and scared all at once. I'm great at school, but looming ahead is more math!
Note to those in college: Check out www.RateMyProfessor.com! I picked my professors this way. Excuse me, but could someone please start the RateMyMidwife.com site already? Oh, friend in the Deep South?!? It's all anonymous. Perfect!
My kids are so proud of me for going to school. I told them I'd be the weirdest one on campus and they laughed saying I'd be the cool mom. Yeah, hippie mama. laugh