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Friday
Aug192005

Back to School

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

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    - Navelgazing Midwife Blog - Back to School

Reader Comments (2)

I think that it is great that you are going back to school, and the ratemyprofessor.com website IS very cool!

I also think that a therapist-midwife or should I say midwife-therapist is a good idea, and that you might be right about midwifery being just a tiny part of the whole scheme? I think that if we listen to our hearts and believe in our "destiny" (don't really like that word, but i can't find a better one) we eventually find our way. A few times I didn't listen to others or even to myself, thinking I knew better what the right thing to do was, and eventually it becomes apparent that I should have listened, allowing me to realize what the right path is. Thoughts like, I can't possibly REALLY want to go that route, it is just not the right time, or convenient or whatever, if I don't think about it it'll go away!

Sometimes we can't listen to our inner selves until we are ready to. It seems that you are ready now, and it is a great thing!

August 19, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBebu

And I believe that you will be the perfect midwife-therapist for lots of women.

You could be helpful to so many women whose docs (or other midwives) just DO NOT GET the fact that their birth was disappointing, that there is baggage from their birth, OR that there is baggage from their past that will affect their birth.

You already are, but having additional training will be hugely beneficial to you (and your clients.)

I've been back in school for two years doing the pre-reqs for a nursing program. I begin that on Sept.21 and am now 44.

It has been, truly, the biggest challenge of my life to be back in school. I have a method to my madness and reasons for returning to school, which include continuing to teach childbirth ed (my true passion) and starting a doula program eventually.

And...by the way...YOU ARE WORTH being paid for all aspects of the service you offer clients. I like the suggestion that Erika gave you, and will assimilate that into MY life as well.

I spent over an hour on the phone with a woman from California today who had a bad experience with her doula and needed to vent and know what she could do. All I could do was validate her concerns and feelings, and it was worth my time to "volunteer" that time.

I was called by an OB and a nurse to a birth this last week, where I spent 15 unpaid hours. The young woman couldn't remember her doula's name, and they called me to help identify and find her. We figured it out, but we could never reach the doula. I felt valued and appreciated by the doc, nurse, the woman's family for coming in at their request to support her.

Am I worth being paid for that, yes. I won't this time, but for births that I contract for with paying clients I know I should not feel badly that I can't do every birth for free.

BLESS YOU. I've said it before, Barb, you inspire me.
Hannah

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