Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In which I am no longer an apprentice midwife

Say WHAT?!?!?!?!?

It's true. I am an apprentice midwife no longer.

But WHY?!?!?!?

Because my life isn't working well right now, and something has to give.

Mainly, I don't have the resources -- the time, the energy, or the money -- to balance my family responsibilities with birthwork. I miss my family and my dog when I'm at a birth, I miss them when I'm doing prenatal appointments, I miss them when I'm home but I'm an absentee wife/mother/owner because I'm birth-hungover. (In theory, I would also miss them when I'm off studying, but I haven't been doing much of that for the last few months, sadly.)

We won't even talk about my personal (not family-related) interests, except to say that a few months ago, when Leigh suggested we start watching The Office from the beginning, I nearly cried at the thought. Because as much as I wanted to see it, I knew that would take even MORE time away from my family and my dog and my schooling, and I would prefer not to even watch it than to add more on to my already-full plate.

Seriously, the idea of watching The Office stressed me out. That was probably my sign.

(I did end up watching it, and I love it!)

But I have this bad habit of being hard on myself, and I couldn't see that I was doing too much. Honestly, it didn't seem like that much to me. I have another bad habit of comparing myself to others; there are tons of apprentices and midwives out there with more kids and more responsibilities than me, so why couldn't I do it? But now I look back and think, A husband and four kids. Three dogs (when I started my apprenticeship). Homeschooling. Not to mention the other things I started doing along the way: cooking, becoming a child passenger safety tech, dog training.

It was actually the Child Passenger Safety Technician thing that got me on this path. I took the class, I got my certification -- but then I found that I just didn't like it. I enjoy knowing about car seats, I enjoy putting thought into what my kids are riding in, but I have no interest in attending community events and installing seats.

It took me several months to get to that point, though. I got my CPST certification in September -- and spent the week after my class in the hospital with dehydration! -- and I just recently came to this conclusion.

It was a really radical thought, though, that I could stop being a CPST  because it felt disingenuous. However, it was also totally not-radical because the world kept on spinning when I made my decision. That was when I started thinking that maybe I could stop apprenticing and I'd survive that too.

Also a contributing factor: the events that led to giving our dog Deuce back to Dustin's grandparents, and giving our dog Tex to my parents. I did not like having three dogs. I admit that. I didn't really want three dogs. But I thought that because I had at one time or another chosen to have all these dogs, I should keep them all forever, no matter what my feelings were. I felt utterly terrible when Deuce went to San Diego, and Tex to Florida. But now I don't. They're happy -- no kids! long walks on the beach! warm weather! -- and I'm happy with just having Maizey. I love her tremendously.

So, I've just discovered that you can realize you've made a mistake and cut your losses, rather than suffer with unhappiness because you feel you "should."

I've also discovered the value in taking time to make a decision. The value in contemplation and thoughtfulness rather than blindly going after whatever you want at that particular second, like a certain two-year-old I know.

Midwifery is supposedly a calling that won't be denied. But I can tell you that missing your family, not having any money (and the stress that causes in relationships), and sleeplessness can really dull those feelings. Right now I am nearly at the point where I resent pregnant women. !!!!

Of course, some of this has nothing to do with my apprenticeship; being a doula at hospital births burns me out. Being a doula felt like a Catch-22: I took lots of clients because I needed the money, because I was spending so much on my apprenticeship and school. But -- duh! -- if I'm not spending as much money on apprenticing, I can turn clients down if I see red flags during the interview. (Which, for the record, I've seen and ignored, only to kick myself later because I should have listened.)

Also, this practically goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: none of this has to do with Leigh. I love my Lii. She's a wonderful friend who has always been there for me. Telling her that I wanted to stop apprenticing was incredibly difficult, even though I knew that as a friend she'd understand. I told her, truthfully, I'd turn down an apprenticeship with Ina May Gaskin right now. I can't do this right now. I don't want to do this right now.

She gave me a really beautiful compliment, probably without realizing it was a compliment: she said that my life is really full without midwifery.

It is. My life is really full. I love my husband and kids, I love homeschooling, I love cooking, I hate cleaning, I love my dog, I love training her. I can fill up 24 hours a day without even thinking about birth. Thank you for saying that Leigh.

I'm going to continue this blog because one of the other things I love to do is WRITE! But I'm changing the name. If anyone has any suggestions about a new name, let me know!


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