And nope. Not at all. Not even a little bit.
Sure, my bags are mostly packed with vacuum-sealed pouches of donations bestowed upon me by my lovely friends, colleagues, clients and neighbors. My clothes have been sprayed with bug-stuff that would make the FDA cringe, but it will prevent me from getting bit by malaria-carrying insects so hell, I'd bathe in it if it was allowed. I have my training schedule done, my outlines printed and my activities planned. My kindle is charged and loaded and I have a certifiable pharmacy in my travel bag in the event that I get any possible malady known to human kind. I have a small travel purse loaded with my passport, flight information, visa documents, travel insurance and the letter from Shanti Uganda saying "please let this nice lady bring a shit ton of needles and syringes into the country, I promise she's not a junkie."
But am I ready? Nope.
How can you be prepared to teach an 8 day training in a country you've never been to, with people you've never met?
What I do have is confidence. Confidence that even though I'm literally flying into unknown territory to do a Really Big Thing, I will rock it and I will rock it hard. I will come out of this experience with a deeper understanding of myself and the world we live in. I will learn from these women taking my training and they will learn from me.
KC and I also have two clients who have crept passed their due dates this week. They are sitting on the verge of doing something that is new and unknown and life-changing in ways they won't understand until they walk through it. There are so many connections between the self-discovery of birth and life itself.
Like the birthing parents I serve, I will walk into this experience with the advice of the ones that have gone before me, I will prepare for the unknown and trust my own inner power. In client interviews, we are often asked what we find to be the best coping tool during labor and my answer is usually "confidence". If you believe your body can handle the pain of birth, and you trust the process that nature designed, you are more likely to achieve your goal of an unmedicated birth.
Confidence is vital in birth work and it's what separates the amazing doulas from the mediocre ones. Regardless of experience. If a brand new doula can walk into the birth room with confidence that they can provide support for this person who is suffering, they WILL do it. Laboring people need to know that someone in the room isn't scared, isn't nervous and trusts that their body can handle whatever the labor dishes out. Our job is to carry that confidence for them when they've lost their own.
"I believe in you. I know this is unbelievably hard. You will find strength you don't know you have, and you will push this baby out!"
My colleagues and friends who have taken this trip before me (as students) tell me it will be a life-changing experience. While I have deeply appreciated the advice and words of KC, Natasha, Melinda, Kristina and Jane, this experience will be my own. Just as pregnant people listen to birth story after birth story preparing for their own labor, I will hear the words given to me and lovingly accept the tips of what (not) to wear, what to pack, how to properly dismount a camel, and what conversations to avoid (it's still illegal to be gay in Uganda so I have to conduct the portion of my training geared towards supporting Queer families in the comfort of our hotel). I will have a better experience because of their support. They might not be with me in Uganda, but they are my doulas and midwives for this experience regardless of distance!
Stay tuned... I leave in 36 hours and I'll hopefully be able to post some while I'm there!
The Let It Be Birth Doulas will use this space to write blog posts about their work, our doula community here and worldwide, and general birth and parenting.
Sean Hoke serves the following areas, hospitals, birth centers, and home birth locations in Washington State: Snohomish County, Lynnwood, Everett, Edmonds, Monroe, Sultan, Gold Bar, Marysville, Snohomish, Arlington, Lake Stevens, Granite Falls, Mountlake Terrace,