Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why I Am Choosing To Become A Doula!

May I preface this article by saying this..."this is a long story in the making". This is NOT a last-minute-whim of a decision :-)

My story begins a long long time ago....18 years ago to be exact. I was a young 15 year old girl in High School who had a friend who had been born on "The Farm". Yes, that's right! She was born into a family who lived on Ina May Gaskins Farm in Summertown, TN during the 1980's. She would talk about how it was her dream to have all her children someday at home with a midwife. AAAAHHH! Talk about shocking to young 15-16 year olds!! LOL! Seriously? Have your children AT HOME? With...oh what did you call her?....oh, a midwife? What is THAT? :-)

Dear readers, this is how my story began...:-)

Little did I know that my friend talking about The Farm, homebirth, and midwives would start me on a journey to where I am now.

After my DH and I were married in 2000 and were expecting our first child in 2001, I was faced with that life changing decision...where do I have my baby?? It's easy to be in the family-way, so to speak, but it's hard to decide where to have your baby. I knew that I was totally NOT sold on the traditional hospital-needles-forceps-drugs-possible surgery option, so I began to look around. There wasn't much.:-) But, the Lord was gracious and He led me to a Midwife who operated out of a fairly local hospital, so that's the direction I went. It was a pregnancy filled with a lot of the same standard interfering type practices, but at least I only had to have one nurse present besides my midwife at the birth. When our little girl was born, I still ended up with an  unneccesary episiotomy that left me unable to walk well for 3 months and complications that I will battle for the rest of my life. It was a tremendous let down. "Next time will be different" I promised myself.

Two and a half years passed. We're now expecting our 2nd baby girl and we are now living in a homebirth friendly state! I have the most wonderful midwife a woman could EVER want! Then, our little one dies at just 5.5 months gestation. My God-sent Midwife stepped in and turned that tragedy into something that we later can look back on and call "a gift". Her loving care of me and our family during that time is something that has stuck with me all through the years since. She stayed with me and allowed me to deliver at home. She came and checked on me periodically. She called me. She cared.

Another year and a half passes. We're expecting our third child...another little girl! I still had my same Midwife throughout this uneventful, smooth, and easy pregnancy! I had a quick easy labor and birth with no complications and I owe a lot of it to the incredible nature of my midwife. I WAS SOLD. Homebirth it was for me from here on out!!!

3 years later we find out we are expecting our fourth child. We are back in another "unfriendly to homebirth/midwives state" and I'm looking around for options. Sadly, our little one passed away at 10 weeks gestation and this time there was no one to be with me or comfort me. It was a tough time, but God was gracious and His care of us was undeniable!

Shortly after this, a dear friend of mine found out that she was expecting and she asked me to come for the birth to help keep things organized and to help her with whatever she needed during the birth. I was THRILLED! What a privilege to have a friend love and trust you so much that they would want to have you with them during one of the most special times of their lives! This was going to be a homebirth and I couldn't wait! The birth-day came and it was one of the most incredible and special days of all my life! During the whole 12 hour labor, I just kept thinking to myself "this is me! this is who I am! I love this! I could do this for the rest of my life and always love it!" Little did I know...:-)

Soon after another friend asked me to attend her birth as well! Once again, I was estatic!! Although the birth ended up in a transport to the hospital, I will never forget the privilege it was for me to be with my friend and to be able to provide comfort to her at home and at the hospital when I went with her for the transport. What a blessing!!!

Again, another 2 years passed and we are expecting a little boy! By this time, I'm a little more prepared :-) I've found a good midwife and have planned it all out right down to what we'll have for dinner the night he's born! God always has a way of changing those "plans" doesn't he? :-) Our son's birth ended up with a transport to the NICU for an under developed lung and after two weeks he was able to come home! Who do you think was one of the first people to stop by and see him? His midwife. This precious lady will forever have my gratitude for allowing me to birth as I wanted to and who stood by us when we had to transport.

I cannot help but be overwhelmed as I write these stories down (I've shortened them A LOT! lol!) for they were what has made me into what I am TODAY. I am a Doula. It's my passion (outside of my piano:-) and I firmly believe that God lead me down this path, starting in 2001, for a specific reason. I want to use my knowledge and the knowledge I will have :-) with God's help and the best of my ability to help women in labor so that they can have the birth that THEY want. Wherever they choose to birth is THEIR CHOICE, but I want to be there providing the best comfort and care that I can so that their birth is everything that they dreamed it would be!

Will I stop at just being a Doula? No way :-) My ultimate goal is to be able to be both Midwife and Doula! The Doula part is just my introduction into the full picture and it's where God is leading me right now! I love Doula-ing and hope someday God may open that door to also be a Midwife! I have a family. They come first! They always have. They are the reason I have not pursued this earlier. I have had a little boy who has been very needy and my first calling in life is to meet those needs. Now that he is older and more "un-needy" I feel that it is a good time to start the studying and learning part of my Doula Certification Process. I am looking forwards to sharing this part of my life with my girls as they get older and someday, Lord willing, I would count it a privilege to be able to train them to do what I do and maybe even be able to apprentice them as a midwife-trainee!!

Our sadly lacking medical system is in dire need of more maternal birth care and I hope that the Lord will use me in this area in a great way! I look forwards to what the future holds and what He has in store for myself and for my family! It all started with a young 15 year old girl sharing with me her dreams and hopes for her future...and here I it. God is good. All the time.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Family Devotions Made Easy!

If your family is anything like OUR family, having family devotions with small children can be...well...challenging to say the least :-) It ends up being hit-and-miss, distracting, drawn out, you name it! More than likely it ends up being another challenge, right at the end of the day when you are the most tired, instead of a time refreshing and unwinding from the long day.

You have in your minds eye all these wonderful things you'd love to do for family devotions like learning multiple verses, memorizing new hymns, using creative flannel graph or drawings to illustrate your long-studied mini message, etc...etc...etc...BUT, in reality, you do good to read one verse, talk about it, pray, and drag everyone to bed. :-)

Am I right?

If I were the one reading this instead of writing it, I would say, "DEAD ON!!!"  *insert crossed eyes and huge sigh*

My husband and I have realized that life comes in stages and that every stage requires a different game plan. What worked when we had one child, does not work with three children who are five years apart, ranging from 12 to 2 ! We realized that a 12 year old needs more than a 2 year old...*whew, rocket science!* LOL!
We also realized that a 2 year old does not have the attention span of a 7 and 12 year old. *whew, more rocket science!* LOL!

So, what did we do?

We did this....

Every morning before Daddy goes to work, he gives us a chapter to read (right now we're in the Psalms). The girls and I read the chapter on our own and then take a verse that really stood out to us and we write it down on our 3x5 card. We then write a few thoughts about why that verse was special to us and we set it aside in a little box to wait for the evening family time.
When Daddy comes home and immediately following supper, the little box comes out and everyone takes their 3x5 card out. One by one we go around the dinner table and read our verse and thoughts out loud. We have a short discussion on the whole chapter, pray, and then everyone is dismissed to finish the evening's activities.

No one is hungry. No one is tired. No one is distracted because we're still sitting at the supper table. Our 2 year old son usually sits through the whole thing with us and "writes" on his card :-) If he can't sit the whole time, he's allowed to get down and go play in his room while we finish.

It's simple. It's thorough. It's easy enough for a 7 year old to do it and yet encourages the 12 year old to dig a little deeper *which she often does*. It strengthens reading capabilities in our 7 year old and challenges us as the parents to be ready to give an answer for the questions that come! All in all, it takes only 20 minutes or so and everyone enjoys it!

So many times in the Christian home, the Bible is the last thing we do...we keep it at bay until the very end of the day when we are the tiredest, most distracted, and most "ready to just go to bed". Bible time ends up being a thing you do in stead of a thing you want to do. And then, more often than not, it gets skipped because the evening's activities went on well past bedtime and it's too late to do anything.

We've come to enjoy this new little thing that we do around God's Word as a family and I hope it's helped spark an idea of what could help you and your family spend more quality time in God's Word!
I'd love to hear what you and your family do for Bible time, so please feel free to leave a comment to share with the rest of us as to what did or didn't work for your family!