I meandered over to my LinkedIn account the other day, and found messages in my inbox congratulating me on my work anniversary. After briefly wondering just what anniversary LinkedIn was marking, I realized that I filed the first of my legal paperwork for my solo practice on April 13, 2017. It is indeed an anniversary.
Milestones tend to prompt some introspection, an inventory of the perhaps non-tangible ground that’s been covered. So, I’m taking stock of all that has transpired over the last year and more on my journey to solo practice.
I was part of a local partnership practice since 2009 that is very busy. Prior to starting that business in 2009, I was a student midwife for about a year and a half. I’ve been mostly on call, tethered to my phone, with my brain always imagining the scenario in which I have to leave any given situation in order to quickly get to a birth, for 10 years. It is always a joy, honor and privilege to attend a birth. I still feel excited to get the labor calls; and I take enormous joy in traveling to your homes, often under the secret cover of the night, to quietly help you to welcome your little ones into your homes and families.
But, for real, 10 years is a long time to live an on-call lifestyle. And, truth be told, I haven’t been so diligent about my own self-care. For years, I have run on coffee and random snacks, little sleep and not enough exercise, and more M&Ms than I should probably admit to. Though I love whole foods and no one has to coerce me to eat my vegetables, I was often too tired to prepare healthy food and relied on not-so-healthy restaurant fare. In 2016, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, plus adrenal stress. Of course I was.
The diagnoses prompted me to start cleaning up my act and attempt to manage the symptoms of overwhelming fatigue, body aches and pains, disrupted sleep, disrupted periods, depression and anxiety. Then in September of 2016, just a month after my diagnosis, my mother unexpectedly died. At the ages of 23, 20, 19, and 14, my kids lost their sole remaining grandparent; my husband’s mother had died just a little over a year prior. Everyone grieves in their own ways, and their stories are not mine to tell; suffice it to say, I felt throughout that autumn that my family and my life really were coming quite undone.
I knew that I couldn’t keep up the pace I was going, or the pressure of a busy practice with an unrelenting overhead, all while trying to heal my body, grieve, and be there for my kids and husband. My business partner and I began discussions about me selling my share of the practice, and I began preparing for a smaller, slower paced practice. That was all finalized on June 30, 2017.
Pregnancy, labor and birth have always been powerful metaphors for my life. It’s been 26 years since I was pregnant with my first born, but the giddy, excited feeling knowing that a whole little person is forming and going to be born is unforgettable. It was similar imagining a solo practice–purchasing new equipment, designing the logo, creating my own procedures, and reveling in all the spreadsheets. (I REALLY dig spreadsheets.)
But nothing is all giddy excitement. (Did your parents say, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt,” when you were growing up? That was a favorite of my dad’s, addressing a general air of chaos brought on by a household of six kids.) A new thing also brings worries, doubts, queasy stomachs, and a whole lot of hard work. I’ve had to self-talk some of the things I say to laboring clients in the middle of the night.
“Take it one step at a time”
“You can do this”
“You are doing this”
“It will be so worth it in the end”
And you know what? It is worth it. A year on, I am delighted by
- office mates who are filled with laughter and joy
- a leisurely drive into the country to get to my office (it’s really not that far away, I promise!)
- the opportunity to walk at the state park on my way to or from work
- a slower paced practice, with time to soak all of you in, and hear your stories, and hold space for you and your babies
- an opportunity to continue to support Heather on her way to becoming a midwife
- a new assistant, Hanna, who is intelligent and excited and dedicated to the work
- Arvigo® work being integral in my care
- the opportunity to participate as part of the teaching team for two Arvigo® workshops since January
- repeat clients who have followed me to the new place, whose kind words of encouragement and appreciation have meant more to me that you can possibly know
- new clients–for home births, Arvigo® Therapy, and lactation consults–welcome! I am grateful for your business
The storms of life come and go. Labor lasts for sometimes seemingly endless hours. Eventually, we are delivered. Delivered into new time and space, a new sense of being, a new opportunity, a new soul to nurture and love. The stormy experience gets integrated into our beings, teaches us lessons that we can return to time and again, and helps us to create something beautiful in the present.
May it be so.