Nov. 14th, 2011

beetiger: (Default)
I know I haven't written anything here in quite a while, and frankly I'm not sure if any of you still have this journal on your reading list. But I've been giving a whole lot of my time to The Doula Project in New York City in the past year and a half, and I've recently joined their Leadership Circle. We're doing a fund drive right now, to help us have the money to train more people locally and nationally in this work, and to be able to offer the women who volunteer long hours of their time on this emotionally challenging work at least a small stipend for their efforts. And I'm putting this here because we could definitely use your help on that. But mostly I'm using this as an excuse to spend a little while sharing about the work I do.

As part of the Doula Project, I work as a full-spectrum doula. That means that I provide free, compassionate care and support for pregnant women no matter what the outcome of that pregnancy will be: abortion, adoption, or parenting. I'm physically in the room, holding the hands of women undergoing abortion procedures and reminding them to breathe, listening to their stories. And I'm in the hospital, helping low-income women through the pain of labor, making them feel safe and comfortable even if the system's been screwing them over, and being there for them even if they don't have anyone else. Sometimes I'm there to cry with women dealing with the loss of a wanted pregnancy due to medical complications. Identifying all of these things with the work of a doula is what the budding full-spectrum movement is about.

I started training as a doula because I needed to find a new way to get out into the real world while being able to meet my mommy obligations and not buy back in to the nine-to-five I seem to have opted out of, and I discovered that although I loved the work, I wasn't very interested in building it as a suburban business. I found the Doula Project when I was looking for groups to work with that needed doulas, where I wouldn't be dealing with the business end as much. And when I looked at my life, I realized that I'm incredibly lucky, that I don't actually need a substantial income right now, and that my reserves, the modest amount of freelancing I do, and the people who are happy to support me in this work were sufficient to meet my personal needs right now.

I never expected to become an activist again, here in my mid-forties. I'm kind of an outlier in this organization of inspired twenty something Brooklyn feminist graduate nursing students. But this work feels so important, and day to day every individual I share a loving connection with, however brief, makes a difference. Really, I'm here to be an ad-hoc mom to some young women who need it, but given the nature of the American discourse both about abortion and about the families of low-income women and women of color, it's an activist thing to care this way.

In any case, here's the link to the appeal, and if this calls to you and you are able, I hope you'll help. And if you know anyone in the NY area with limited income who is pregnant and could use some free support, be sure to send them our way.

I'm leaving comments open, because I'd love to hear your feedback, answer any questions, and frankly get a little support for being brave and putting this out here. But if it becomes any sort of debate on the ethics or politics of abortion, I'm going to close it off, so I'd appreciate it if you respect those parameters.

December 2013

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