What a turbulent time to enter the birthing world!
As I sat on the coach back from my doula course in Cambridge, planning my post-course project, and budgeting for launching my business, I had a peaceful sense that I was at the apex of a peak of organisational transformation, that had slowly permeated through my personal life, into my professional life. For the first time in years, I could hold a solid sense of who I was, what I wanted, and where I was going, all in tandem in my mind. Two weeks later, I'm trying to decipher whether my health condition puts me in the high-risk category for Covid-19, and feeling lost at sea amongst ableist attitudes in the media, and closer to home. I feel like the universe is reminding me that ultimately, life is chaos.
We took the decision as a household to put ourselves in lockdown, before the call came from the government. And as I navigate this new world, my thoughts turn away from our personal survival instincts as a family, and to the communities which I belong to...
To graduate from my doula course, the post-course project consists of two parts, research and volunteer work. For both strands, I'm looking at the impact of difficult maternal relationships, and facilitating a support group for women in my area. By the time lockdown starts, I've already postponed the physical meeting of the support group, and although it feels poignant to post in the online group, I feel in my gut that this is such a sensitive subject, it would do it a disservice to have our first meeting held online.
It is immediately apparent that the birth world is under enormous strain. I compulsively check in on the new birth-world support networks that I've joined over the last month, and with the pregnant women I'm supporting in an informal way, anxious to be useful. I know I'm not experienced enough to be offering remote services, but I compile lists of online resources, and continue signposting both in private messages and via my social media. I think the answer of what I'm meant to be doing will resolve itself if I just keep 'doing', like working out how to complete a physical task, sewing, cooking, painting. Trying different things until either they stick, or you realise you've made a mistake. Then as I read through my course notes, and it hits me that I need to reframe this as part of my training.
So with great respect to those already established in the birthing community, I remind myself that everyone in this community is my teacher, and I will take this sabbatical, by observing patiently from the sidelines. My intention with the support group, and with my doula practise, is to hold space for people to talk about things they may never had a chance to dive into before. For me, this means the sort of emotional connection that can only be reached through physical connection.
Of course, pregnancy has a time limit, and there are people who I wanted to support, that I'll now not be able to. Once I feel safe to come out of lockdown, their birth will be a memory. But seeing the way the whole community has come together, midwives and doulas alike, and the great wealth of wisdom and generosity that's so innate to people working in this field, I feel secure that it's not where my energy is best placed now, and anxiety around it has dissipated.
To be a great objective friend is the principal foundation of being a doula, and I don't need to rush my training in order to be that person. I will keep fighting for the nhs, and our human rights during this crisis, in the ways that are available to me, and checking in on and supporting my friends and community, but for now my doula journey is frozen, and can thaw in it's own time.