In a past post, I mentioned that Dan and I spent a considerable amount of time researching the idea of opening an orphanage in Ethiopia last fall. Doors were flying open and we were able to connect with some incredibly knowledgeable people to discuss the logistics. It felt so right and we were very much focused on what we wanted to do there. When we learned that funding an orphanage primarily through adoption would be difficult given the Ethiopian adoption climate at that time, we were befuddled. Aren't we supposed to be there? There where there's a lack of clean water. There where there are 4.5 million kids without parents. Yet through that endeavor, Dan and I both felt that what we were being shown is that we didn't need to travel across an ocean to "make a difference". For us, at least at that time, there wasn't where we were supposed to be. We needed to open our eyes to here. Because here, right here in this very city, there are needs, too. Yes, the needs are different, but they are no less important.
While we were researching and reading about international orphanage models, I had dinner with a dear friend of mine. She's a doula and has started two non-profit organizations here. One provides doula services to low-income, high-risk pregnant teens; the other is a transitional home for pregnant and new moms who are homeless. She told me that she was looking to hire a postpartum doula to work with the moms at the transitional home. She asked if I was interested.
When I went through the training to become a doula, I was primarily interested in birth doulaing. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I adamantly stated that postpartum doula work was something I wasn't too interested in. But when my friend offered me this position, I felt I should at least give it a try. I'm not one to say that God speaks to me directly, but I felt I was being shown that there are needs right here and I couldn't turn a blind eye to them. So I said yes. And in the very interesting way that life works, it turns out that I love it.
I've been working with the girls one morning a week since last September. I educate them on breastfeeding, bonding, attachment, infant care, and nutrition. I took a couple of months off during my first trimester. (That's one of the job perks of being a doula - my doula boss actually encouraged me to take time off during those tiresome and nausea-filled first trimester days). All of the girls I worked with last fall were bottle feeding. So we spent time talking about "bottlefeeding with love" (essentially - don't bottle prop). This spring, I've primarily been working with girls who are breastfeeding and have encountered challenges. I've really enjoyed working with these women, yet I felt somewhat ill-equipped to help them with their more complex breastfeeding problems. When I would suggest a visit with a lactation consultant, they would generally say yes, but would invariably end up not going. I felt I could make more of an impact if I went through lactation training myself.
After some research, I chose this IBCLCE-approved lactation consultant training program. The program originated at Georgetown University Hospital. I am working through 38 "cores" each containing a lecture, power point presentation, and a post test. The cores are intended to take 2 hours each. Some of the cores contain additional worksheets or other homework assignments. I will also complete six case studies which I will submit to be graded. Then I'll take the timed final exam. A passing grade is required to receive their certification.
It has been rigorous. I am learning so much. And I'm a little over half way done! The kids say I am back in "college". School may be out for everyone else, but not for me. It's okay. I'm really enjoying it. Best of all, I've already been able to put what I'm learning into practice at the home where I work - with some good results!