"Ask me for strength and I will lend not only my hand, but also my heart."
~ Unknown

Friday, August 13, 2010

Career or Calling?

I've never been a typical "career woman."  I don't identify with high-powered corporate scenes.  Before motherhood, I worked for two busy accounting firms.  While such employment was financially rewarding, I wasn't all that motivated to become an executive.  I longed for more meaningful work.  

Eventually, following the births of my children, I was drawn to support families throughout the childbearing year.  I wasn't immediately sure which avenue to take or how it to go about it all, but I knew I had to do something.  Our family had benefited from the support of a doula, so it made sense to look into becoming one myself.  I was struck by the selflessness of the work.  The most amazing doulas I met, the ones I would most like to have as my own, had such giving hearts. They gave not only of their time, their expertise, but they truly asked little in return.  These doulas did not view their work as a business venture or a "job."  They did not turn families away due to economic or social standing.  No, to them, such work as a doula, literally a servant or slave, was a calling rather than a career.  That is the kind of doula I wanted to be, and still do.

From time to time I am asked about how one pursues a career as a doula or in the childbirth field... Such questions make me truly uncomfortable.  If I were to speak bluntly and merely looking at dollars and cents, I would  say that it is not realistic to expect to make a living as a doula.  If I were to answer by looking more deeply at the true spirit of a doula, I would say that one should not aspire to make a living as a doula.  

The life of a doula should not be a career, it is not a job... it is work - wholistic, unselfish, work of the heart.  We care, we give of our hearts, our souls, our hands...  It is emotional, raw, and intense.  Yes, we must be knowledgeable about the physiological and psychological processes of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period; however, we must also respect and hold the space of the spiritual and emotional beauty and trials of the miracle of birth.  We must show unconditional love and support to the childbearing family.  There are times when we mourn with these families as well as rejoice with them.  

We do not punch a clock.  We serve.

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