Thursday, November 13, 2014

Doula do or Doula don't

Doula (ˈdo͞olə): a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born 

I am not a doula. I have not been trained to assist a woman during childbirth and time has not permitted me to truly provide support to the family after a baby is born.  

Yet, I have acted as an untrained doula three times. Encouraging, coaching, assisting, supporting, loving one as she labored in the effort that is required to bring forth life. I stood in my appointed place and waited with bated breath. The first time, was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The subsequent times were equally brilliant.  

The fourth time I did not stand in my place. I waited with bated breath for hours upon hours. Guilt and disappointment and anxiety reigned within me.  

My eleventh living baby resides in another state and the first 13 days of her life have passed and I have not held or smelled or touched her. I have not heard her sweet bay of a cry, stroked the hair on her head, felt the softness of her skin, watched her moro reflex in action, or watched her siblings behold her in the way that young siblings do.  

But I love her.  

I love them all: Haydn Elizabeth Marie, Louise Jane, Jonah Andrew, Ava Annabel Leigh, June Bernice, Sophia Ruth Lynndea, Caroline Story, Corinne Alexandra Dara, Sadie Elizabeth, Olivia Parker Rose, and Rosalie Roan.  

I am not a mother. I have not labored to bring forth these little lives. As much as I dearly love each of them, I do not carry them in my heart as their mothers do. I do not worry over their comings and goings as their mothers do.  

I love them like an aunt does. Like a very good aunt.  

Doula do or doula don’t. Birth is a most beautiful thing, but it is but a moment. I look forward to the days and weeks and months and years of loving her, of loving them all.  

As a very good aunt should do.

Leave, Leaving, Leaves

I found it to be beautiful. The trees were a myriad of fall colors and the temperature was crisp but balmy. It felt good, it was right.

A part of me felt at home despite the unfamiliar that surrounded me.  

The longer I was there uncertainty and confusion began to register and settle in like a long lost friend that I had not seen for a time. Yet, like long lost friends, we fell back in sink, resulting in a rhythmic banter of queries, inquisitions, and reservations.

I found myself being once again carried away in the fantasy of the unknown and the appeal of the ensuing drama that would be my life; blind to the schedule, the loss of life, and the distorted sleep.

My desire has been to settle, to inhabit for a time, to stay, to dwell, to occupy, to reside, to make a home.

It’s hard when your work fills you with passion and steals your life. It’s hard when life is good and your work doesn’t fill you with the passion it once did.

Which is worth more? Life or passion? Time or money?

As always, so very thankful for Ruth.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

For Cheers of All Kind

The words seemed to be so much more powerful today. Like poetry jumping off the pages and the PowerPoint to charge me with reality, forcing me to acknowledge known truths that are so familiar to me that at times they have become foreign and invisible.

The longer I sat the deeper I was touched and at times felt my eyes moisten with the beauty that I have claimed for my life.
I was sitting among family that reminded me of former days and made me long for simpler times, when life just felt beautiful and right and good. Days when life seemed to make more sense and the mystifications that lie with in me were quieter.

I sit now working, studying, evaluating my work and pressing on to complete and accomplish my task at hand. But within me resides a restlessness that results in a lack of focus. I find myself ambling through social media and observing “friends” I have known from so many various avenues and facets of my life. Some who live in a similar fashion to me and some who have embraced much different realities.

Life is truly so beautiful. My study, though different avenues, has always focused on the function of the human. I find myself now focusing more on the beauty of the soul and the intricate exquisiteness that is each one of us.

While I often long for those simpler times, I am so thankful for the time that has transpired since then. The trying times, the difficult times, the ugly times, the renewing times, the hard times, and even the confusing times. They each have yielded so much in me. I am able to see beauty and feel love and acknowledge blessings that I never knew before and in truth was incapable of seeing.

I sit in my warm office, being serenaded by the most tranquil music, and I am thankful. Thankful for time and people who are family, for old friends and new friends, for landscapes, for new beginnings, for peaceful resolutions, for truths that remain truths, for inside jokes, for knowing eye-contact, for smiles, for hands, for hugs, for familiar voices, for the ability to feel love, for cautious vulnerability, for understanding the beauty of pain, for cheers of all kind.

But we believe that human eyes, Beheld that journey to the skies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Acknowledged, Invisible, Valued

We all want to be acknowledged, to feel that we are welcome and wanted, that we bring something to the table, that we have value. We want to be invited into community, to be accepted.

We fear being invisible, being ignored or dismissed, unaccepted, unwanted, and inadvertently devalued. We fear being overlooked and being pushed to the outside, forced to look in but not allowed inside.

It’s a simple act, to acknowledge someone: it’s a nod, a smile, a handshake, a voiced “hello” or “hi”. It takes little effort, but it in turn communicates acceptance, love, value. What begins as superficiality has the potential to bloom into an invitations of community.

We all crave intimate community. God designed us to be connected, to fellowship, to bear one another’s burdens. We were not designed to be alone or isolated.

So why, if it is so simple, do we hesitate to acknowledge? Why do we limit or deny community to those around us? Why do we stop short?

Sometimes we are too busy, sometimes we are comfortable in our own community and have grown complacent, and ironically, sometimes we are afraid to reach out in fear that we won’t be received.

We all want to be valued.

The last few years of my nomadic life have resulted in many social experiences. Some have left me feeling acknowledged and some have left me feeling invisible. In retrospect, I am grateful for all of them. Both the feelings of acknowledgement and the feelings of invisibility have taught me so much about the importance of healthy human interaction, about my own value, and the innate need for true community.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Kindredness

The moment our eyes locked I felt a kindredness.

I did not know her. She was old and wrinkled, her hair was somewhat disheveled, her gait was unsteady, her pearly whites weren’t so much.

But the closer she came to me, the closer she drew me to her.

It was a soul connection.

She came to stand right in front of me. We smiled and then we embraced. In truth, it was the most genuine and uninhibited hug I have had in a long time. The kind of hug that warms you from the inside out; It was a whole heart hug.

And then I noticed her caretaker standing behind, “She has dementia. She used to teach at the school.” She said this to me apologetically, as if to dismiss any awkwardness that I had felt. I smiled. She was the only one with the awkwardness. “Oh” I said, “I didn’t know”.

My new friend and I smiled a moment more and then she went about her unsteady way.

I don’t know what it is with dementia, but it often has a way of drawing me in. There is a purity with dementia that is likened to that of a child; an uninhibitedness that leads to a  genuineness. It is a beautiful aspect to such a degrading disease.

I find it easy to interact with children, with elderly, those with dementia. I find it difficult at times to interact with adolescents, teenagers, and even peers.

We read in the book of Ephesians:
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the [d]saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ

We further read in 1 Corinthians chapter 12:
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

There have been times in my life which I wished that I could interact better with young people, that I understood more what to say, how to say, how to be. But even in wishing that, I wouldn’t trade it for my ability to interact with the child, with the elder, with those with the dementia. We are all called to something.

She left me with a smile. This woman with dementia brightened my day. I do not know who she was, who she is. I do know, though, that for a moment she was simply a Christian sister and we embraced as Christian sisters should.

The arms of Jesus wrapped around me today.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Being Nice

When being in a position of authority, one is burdened with a great deal of responsibility.

You are responsible for your own actions and decisions and moves. But you are also responsible for things outside of your control, like people and their actions and decisions and moves.

When you are responsible for the care of people and for the people who care for them, it is important that you foster nurturing relationships, it is important that you always allow youself to be approachable.

As a nurse practitioner I had to know my patients so that I could make good decisions in caring for them, but I also had to know my nurses so that I could anticipate their decisions and actions in caring for my patients.

I’ve worked with a lot of great nurses, some good nurses, and some nurses who meant  well, but that I just didn’t trust. I found it important to foster relationships with all of them, but especially the ones I didn’t trust.

I found that some of my partners didn’t trust the same nurses that I didn’t trust. This validated my concerns. They, at times, treated them with frustration, anger, disrespect. I was not there, I did not know this. I learned this from the nurses themselves. They said, “Thank you for being nice and being approachable. I know I can always ask you questions and you won’t make me feel stupid.”

Thank you for being nice.

Being nice.

I would like to think that I’m just a nice person. I think, in truth, it started out that way. But in time, I learned that being nice actually allowed me to gain insight, gain trust with the nurse. The nurse could ask me questions without reproach. I knew what was going on. I knew how my patient was. I knew what the nurse was thinking.

The nurse didn’t talk when they didn’t feel safe.

After a few incidents, I realized that being nice actually had the potential to save my patient. My being approachable increased patient safety.

No one gets anywhere from yelling. If anything you go backwards and the patient suffers.

I’m learning the same is true with students. I want to be approachable. I want them to ask questions. I want them to feel safe. I want to save their future patients.

There was never any benefit in eating your young. The field of nursing was wrong in that. That is not who I want to be.

I want to be nice.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Little Late, But Right on Time.

I moved from Nashville on November 21. Since that time there has been Thanksgiving, starting a new job, a major ice storm, Graduation, Christmas Break, the death of a friend, the beginning of the semester, and a weekend with DHS.

Despite being two weeks into the spring semester and despite having moved to start a new job over two months ago, I hadn’t lectured a single time until yesterday, January 27. I lectured twice, in the morning and in the afternoon.
I suppose I have been waiting for yesterday for years. Realizing as a college student that I eventually wanted to be back in the classroom, though, on the other side of the desk. I wanted to talk, to lecture, to engage minds in learning. But I wanted experience, I wanted time and personal investments to bring to the classroom. I didn’t want to be an inexperienced teacher who had little to offer.
There are some things that are second nature. Lecturing feels like that to me, but then maybe it’s just genetic.
I’ll have to admit though, I’ve had a lot of anxiety about walking away from the hospital, from the ICU. I frequently think about my “regular” schedule and still find myself trying to adapt.
ICU work is second nature, too.
I lectured yesterday. I taught students in a University yesterday. I did well. I enjoyed it.  
And no one died. Nice to have a job where no one dies.
Adaptation takes time, but all I have is time.