(stolen from Jim Critcher on Facebook)
At the end of my junior year of undergrad, I randomly received a giant copy of College Majors and Careers. I had spoken to a few friends at church about hitting my wall academically, and one of them happened to have a copy of it in their car. I grabbed it and we all headed to Sonny’s with one mission: figure out my new major (and engorge ourselves with BBQ and sweet tea. Duh.).
It’s probably not the most romantic way to say I had no idea what I was doing, but I was scared and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’d entered FSU hopeful that I would do well on a pre-med track and that if I could handle Organic Chem, I surely could handle Physics…so I put it off. And by the end of the semester, I was sweaty-palmed fantasizing about what other forms of human torture would be better than taking my final exam. It was absolutely brutal and horrifying to go from the idea of med school to PA school to just finishing the school I was at.
I went with International Affairs because it would let me graduate on time, and I knew having one extra line on my resume would at least open some doors – even if it wasn’t the right one. I graduated in May and after a summer of odd jobs and living in Tallahassee, moved with my (then) fiance to Atlanta with only enough to cover one month’s rent in my back account. When I got a job at the front desk at dermatologist’s office, I thought making $14/hour was extreme wealth for a new grad with little specialty.
Then we got married, and even though I had loved and did very well at my position, at the start of the new year, my position’s responsibilities drastically changed. I was not qualified to handle an added billing side to my job title and after several months of hating going to work every morning and dreading every Friday night because it was suddenly too close to Monday, I begged my sweet student husband if I could quit. I quit, and then got another desk job till they let several staff members go due to budget issues.
Enter photography in the midst of this because my brain couldn’t stay idle (just think of answering phone calls and dealing with customer service issues all day. It’s mind-numbing.). I knew one day that I’d like to go back to school, I just knew I’d want kids in a few years and that it wouldn’t be worth being in (more grad loan) debt over if I was going to be staying home with them. So I did what I do, I thought about it really practically – I could do photography now, learn what the heck I was doing, and then I could raise my kiddos, do photography on the side at my leisure, and then one day, go back to school. So we started MAB and it was a wonderful source of extra income when we were surviving off of one desk job and our grocery budget was $60/week.
That summer we went back home for 6 weeks and prayed and hoped for job openings in Boston. We stayed in a friend’s half bedroom with a fan in a Boston July (which I’m telling you is way worse than anything in well-air-conditioned Florida), and I’d sleep with frozen vegetables because I was so hot. In our 6 weeks, I got an admin job (go figure!) at a charter school and Mike had an interview with an architecture firm. We packed our stuff up, enjoyed our best friends’ wedding festivities, and headed north with all we had. For another 3 weeks, we lived with another hospitable friend while Mike had his second interview, got hired, and we could find a place.
By that November, we were pregnant with Marin and I was out-of-commission till February. Then in July, we moved again. I hurt my hip, and by the very, very end of August, Marin made her grand debut. I thought I was going to lose my sanity and felt completely overwhelmed by everything – dishes, baby, crying, showering, nursing, etc. My transition into being a stay-at-home Mom was nothing pretty, but it was the beginning of what I’d always wanted to do. My entire life, I wanted to enjoy these years with my babies, and it was bizarre to find that time, a mix of bliss and constant anxiety.
I let myself settle into it all, and I took my time doing so. I just didn’t have the energy to do much else honestly. By 6 months, I felt like I was just getting my head above water, and that I was discovering our ‘rhythm’ as a family of three. I started to consider becoming a doula since my own birth experience had left me with a lingering high for the entire experience. I talked to doulas, emailed them, and decided this wasn’t the time and debated my ability to support all women and all of their choices and options when it came to birth as a professional.
I cooled my jets and let another year go by. Then this May, it hit me – I didn’t know what I was doing in Boston anymore. A long winter left me with a lot of doubt about whether this was in fact still the ideal location for us, especially now as a growing family, when I knew of a beautiful place with sunshine, beaches, pools, and my first love – central air conditioning existed. The idea popped back into my brain – what about birth work? That question had been there long enough – when I entered college as pre-med, I want to be an ObGyn (ironic now, huh?), when I had Marin another world of home birth was opened up to me, and still two years later, the hope of birth work lingered. Surely, it wasn’t going away after an on-and-off debate for years about it’s significance in my life and my calling.
Simultaneously, I was talking to Mike about really wanting to pursue paying off grad loan debt and advancing us financially. I could work nights? I could work weekends? I could just do lots of photography again? I could wait till it was ‘necessary’ if that happened? We were just not making the grounds I felt were important with our life goals, and I wanted to help and I wanted to do something this time that I loved. I didn’t want it to come down to another desk job, I didn’t want the big investment of furthering my education yet, I didn’t want to not be home with Marin for 95% of the time. I wanted my cake and to eat it too – because I always think you can figure it out and make it work. Always.
Amidst the conversations with my husband, midwives, and friends, I’d learned that there was a toLabor doula training happening in my area in just two weeks. I hurried over to the website to learn that it was already full, and began praying and fasting about getting in once I was put on their waitlist. I found out last Thursday night that I got in and I thought I’d burst into tears. This Friday afternoon, my training begins, and I am still freaking out about it and taking the reality of it in.
This will mean not sleeping some nights. This will mean 1-2 days away from Marin and BB #2 per month. This will mean adding something onto my days that can already feel exhausting and overwhelming. But it is something that I want to do, for financial, practical, personal, professional, emotional reasons. And quite frankly, I’m excited to just be in a room with women all weekend who want to talk about birth and support women and their birth decisions to the best of their ability. Because it’s fantastic, and usually I’m just coercing my brother-in-law into hearing tub jokes that he finds less-than-amusing (especially with their pending reality in our apartment).
I know that this may not seem like a big deal – it’s not me re-entering the work force full-time, it’s not me putting Marin into a daycare or hiring a nanny, it’s not going to turn everything in our lives upside down, but it’s a really, really big deal to me. I never dreamed I’d want to do any career or job during this time in my kids’ lives, but to feel like it’s something that I’ve prayerfully stumbled upon and not hastily jumped into, gives me a little peace of mind. Hopefully enough peace of mind to actually do what I need to do to be a great doula, Mom, and wife during this stage of our lives together – because seriously, I’m done working behind a desk and I’m ready to see what God has for me around this corner. It’s about time to find out.