Some time ago, someone asked me why I had stopped doing postpartum doula work. Then, as I was reading the Laughter & Tears book I recently wrote about, those reasons/thoughts came back up for me (as well as thoughts about the true value of postpartum support). Anyway, my biggest reason for discontinuing postpartum work was because at this point in my life I couldn't reconcile taking care of someone else's family while my own needs me so much. It just felt *wrong* to me to be bopping off to "nurture the family" while I still have such a young family at home that needs plenty of nurturing itself! Along the same lines, there I was washing my client's dishes and thinking that I have a huge pile unwashed at my own house (that my husband does at night when he gets home--this is our routine, regardless of whether I have clients) and/or folding their laundry and thinking of the two full baskets at my own house in my own living room as yet not put away.
I feel like my clients always treated me with lots of respect and seemed to perceive me as an "expert" and not as "hired help," but some of the work still definitely had a hired help flavor to it. I also felt like I was definitely able to provide a level of support that the "help" would not be able to, particularly with regard to breastfeeding.
Also, I recognized that I feel most comfortable with and am temperamentally most suited for educational/"academic" types of support (such as the childbirth education classes I teach) instead of the "intimate" hands-on support that postpartum or labor support requires.
Anyway, that's basically why I quit. For a time, I really felt embarrassed about it because I was *so* sure it was going to be my "calling" and because I spent so much money on training, books, supplies, certification packet, etc. Luckily, I totaled it up when I was preparing to quit and I made enough money from my clients to at least more than pay myself back for the training!
I feel fervently that women/families need postpartum doula support (sometimes desperately) and I felt depressed to realize that I'm just not the person for the role (at this time). I didn't understand at the time, but I quickly figured out why the majority of the women in the postpartum doula training with me were middle-aged. They had the energy to "mother-the -mother" and "nurture the family" at that season in their lives, whereas I am still in a season in which I need to nurture my *own* family before I have the energy to spare to nurture someone else's. Maybe when I am in my 40's, I will return to postpartum doula work, because I do still truly feel a connection to it on a soul level (though maybe I don't feel it on a doing-someone-else's-laundry level, ;-).
(actually written on 10/5, but released later to avoid Friday overload of posts!)