It took me two years of pondering, but yesterday I contacted a Postpartum Doula trainer to sign up for a November training, and also joined DONA International. This new professional direction actually brings me full circle – or rather spirals me back into another level of connection – with work I’ve done in the past.

Back when my first child was still pretty young (mid-90s), I trained and worked as a postpartum doula with the Fourth Trimester in San Francisco (27 hours of training) and studied as a birth doula with Sharon Ledbetter of Birth & Bonding International (60-hours). But the strain of caring for my own child while coping with a hidden disability (environmental illness/multiple chemical sensitivity) was a little too much for me. My own support network was shaky and my health was unreliable. Also, hospitals were too chemically challenging, and sometimes people’s homes were toxic as well. So I gave up doula work and resumed bookkeeping for the family business. Later I completed a nonprofit development director course at USF, had my second child, and continued to work as a stay-at-home-mom/bookkeeper for several years.

As my children grew older and spent more time in school, I began to pursue graduate studies in human sexuality and training in hypnosis. In addition to earning the DHS and Ed.D. degrees from the Institute for Advanced Study in Human Sexuality (2008, 2011), I also became certified as a hypnotist (2008), earned a certificate in Human Services through Berkeley City College (2011), logged 70 hours volunteering on a crisis line (2011), completed a long certification and supervision process as an AASECT sexuality counselor (2012, recertified 2015) and became a certified hypnosis instructor (2013). (Oh, and did I mention the Prep.Inc “marriage education” instructor training in 2006 or the Ipsalu Tantra teacher training in 2014 or all the numerous “continuing education” workshops I’ve taken over the years?)

Reading the above, I’m actually a little startled by how much I seem unable to stop learning new things. Would it surprise you to know I am still in school? I’ve been taking human development and anthropology courses, and other things, to weave into my sexology interests.

What’s new about revisiting my doula past is that it IS a renewal and retraining in previously gained knowledge and experience. I don’t do that very often – I usually move forward and seldom look back. But lately I’ve had a need to cycle back through many areas of my training – wanting to encounter old material with fresh eyes and insights. I kind of feel the need of an integrative sabbatical, actually.

To be honest, I may also have an emotional tug towards supporting families with newborns. I’m sixty, of an age to be a grandmother (and not likely to be one anytime soon), and so perhaps I would like to feel the heartwarming engagement that usually comes with helping new parents and their adorable babies.

In order to support expectant and new families, I envision adding (1) childbirth prep hypnosis and (2) postpartum doula services to my professional offerings, with structural help from my previous training in case management. In addition, I can also see (3) repurposing the marriage education curriculum as a kind of basic training for expectant parents, as they – almost more than any other group! – could use some training in creating strategies for long term relationship success through communication and conflict skills and examination of unspoken expectations, and so on. And for those who want it, (4) postpartum intimacy counseling.

This is really starting to make sense to me.