Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Quick Update, and, Growing as a Doula: PAIL Training (Pregnancy And Infant Loss)

Whew! I fell of the blogging deep end again, didn't I? I have more posts to share with you about different methods for coping with the sensations of labor, but before I do that, I wanted to share what I've been up to lately. I've been thinking about this blog, and how to manage it. It's evolved so much from when I first started it as a fledgling yoga teacher hoping to share my thoughts and build a following. I've shared my journey with shifting to a local diet, training as an aerialist, getting my reiki attunements, writing a book of tarot interpretations (now there's something I should revisit!), learning about the chakras, and becoming a doula! This tree has grown a loooong way from those humble roots, offering free yoga classes to the parishioners of St. John the Baptist Catholic church in Bed-Stuy! I'm wondering if the most sensible thing to do is to archive this treasure trove of the journey, and start a new blog that is more focused on what I'm up to right now. I hate to lose the continuity of having it all in one place though, and my practice as a doula, reiki healer, tarot reader, meditation coach, and even aerialist is definitely still informed by my deep dives into my yoga practice. And after all, I do still teach yoga, though it's all aerial yoga now! Maybe a little rebrand is all I need. We'll see. What I really need is to get back onto a regular posting schedule!! It's not like I don't have plenty to share! Speaking of which...

Right now, I'm taking a doula deep dive, learning how to support people experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, critical fetal diagnosis, abortion, maternal death, infant death, and loss of a living child through losing custody. It's a lot of loss to be processing, but our trainer, Nneka Hall, is not just an expert in these issues, she's a compassionate, loving person who is always checking in on us. She cares about how we're managing the work flow of the course, but more importantly, she cares that we have the support we need to process the inevitable sadness of diving into these heartbreaking issues for weeks at a time. Her course is self-directed, so we're free to take breaks and practice self care when needed, and work through the material in chunks, or regularly a little at a time, however we work best. We share resources and connect via our facebook group, not only things that are part of our curriculum, but additional blogposts, movies on netflix, or websites that seemed useful or interesting.

In addition to running these trainings, Nneka runs the non-profit she founded: QUILT (Quietly United In Loss Together). This group provides education, support, and advocacy to those who have lost  a child from pregnancy through age 2. She also participates in other events, discussions, articles, and fund raising campaigns that center around supporting people through pregnancy and infant loss. I have learned so much through her personal story, and her example of transmuting her pain into action on behalf of others.

In the early days of the course, I remember thinking, "Ok, so I'm reading a lot of definitions, and a lot of first-person accounts of pregnancy loss, and watching movies about it...but when will we learn what to actually DO??? How do I support a person going through this?" Over time, I came to realize that it isn't about having a checklist of things to do, any more than supporting a person in labor is about that. Yes, there are tools and techniques that are often helpful, but the most critical thing is simply being present, and truly empathizing. By listening to the stories of people who have experienced this heartbreak, my sense of empathy has been stretched to a new capacity. At least on some tiny level, I'm able to comprehend the depths of grief a family who has lost a child is going through, and that comprehension is the most important tool to hold space, and offer what is needed for these families. Of course, we are learning practical information as well, such as what to include in a kit to support someone through a miscarriage, or what kinds of equipment we'll likely see used to support a baby in the NICU.

Something else that makes this course so special is that Nneka has structured it to keep it very affordable. Whether you're a new doula starting out, a loved one of someone who just got a critical pregnancy diagnosis, or are healing from a pregnancy loss yourself and are looking into how you can help others get better support than you had, this course is accessible to you! This current cohort goes through November, after that, you can be on the lookout for the next one.

Growing as a doula, and being prepared to support my clients no matter what occurs during their pregnancies is important to me, and I'm so thankful that this resource was here so that I could gain these crucial skills. Pregnancy and infant loss is far more common than most of us realize. Odds are very good you already know someone who has been through one of the situations covered in this course. You could be the person to spearhead support when someone needs it most. It's something to think about!

Live Omily,