Wednesday, November 11

Wrapping It Up and Packing It Away

Tonight as I went to rock my baby to sleep, I knew it would take awhile since she'd had a late afternoon nap.  Tonight I really craved her closeness, wanting to feel her sweet hands rubbing up and down my arm.  She settled down quickly and I began a rosary, choosing to pray the joyful mysteries because I forgot that today was Wednesday.  As I began to pray my mind wandered, as it usually does.  But once I came to The Visitation, my mind zeroed in on it, and I noticed something I'd never noticed before.

"Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."

And Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever."

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home."     Luke 1:39-56

Mary went to visit Elizabeth when Elizabeth was about 6 months pregnant, and Mary stayed for about 3 months... Probably until John was born... Mary was probably Elizabeth's doula!

Okay I know I'm reaching here, and I apologize if I'm being heretical.  Usually when I read this passage I'm mediating more about the Magnificat, one of my favorite prayers, and I don't pay heed to the last verse.

I probably noticed this tonight because I've decided to end the doula phase in my life, and I'm mourning a little bit.  The on-call life has taken its toll on me, and I think that right now, at this stage at least, I need to be fully present for my family.  I will miss being a support for families and sharing my knowledge.  I will miss being present as a mother labors to give birth.  And I will miss witnessing the miracle and honoring the intimate moments of two parents meeting their child for the very first time.

I won't miss the dread of a mid-night phone call, or the canceling of my plans at the last minute.  And most importantly, I won't miss having to keep my phone ringer "on" and having it in my pocket or by my side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So after next week, when I complete my very last post-partum visit, I will shut my ringer off and hopefully learn to *not* carry my phone around with me everywhere.  No longer will it need to be tethered at my side, tempting me into distractions (or near occasions of sin!).  It will become an old tool that, while occasionally useful, will be mostly confined to my desk.

I've already packed away my leftover materials, stationary, handouts, and business cards.  I need to close down my website and Facebook page. I want to print out the beautiful testimonials that my clients left for me on, and put them in my notebook with other birth announcements and thank you notes.  It makes me sad that I already know of two women who wanted me by their side next year but I've had to say no.

Being a doula has defined almost 5 years of my life.  It's brought some of my highest highs and lowest lows.  The absolute best part is knowing that I've helped moms achieve their goals of birthing a baby on their own terms, with knowledge and the acceptance of the events going on around them.

For now, I'm stepping away from all birth work, and focusing on my work at home.  There's so much to be done, and I want to do better at it!

Despite the feelings of loss, I'm still at peace knowing I'm doing the right thing for our family.  This has been a great consolation to me, as many times in life I feel unsure if I'm making the right decision.  And I'd like to think that maybe I'm not done forever...maybe I will be able to do this again one day, if it's in God's plan.


Anonymous said...

Mary, doula to St. John the Baptist, brilliant idea!

Maybe you could be a "doula from afar" with your articles, posts, columns, advice, etc? You know, like that Emma Bombeck?

Just a thought...

Alyssa said...

I cannot remember how I happened upon your blog years ago! But I resonate so much with what you've said here (and times before). I also had to give up being a doula a couple of years ago after the birth and eventual toddlerhood of my third child. It was hard. leaving the on call part, definitely not so hard. But a good, wise decision for my family and for myself. I miss it a lot though and still, at times, take doula jobs just for close friends who ask very nicely. :) But we're talking once or twice a year and without the same pressure of the other situations.

Much love to you on this journey. (we also homeschool our children, my husband is a pastor/urban farmer. <--weird combo, I'm award.)

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