As I re-read my answers one more time and finally click the "submit" button, I think about how it feels as though more than a week has gone by.
One week and one day ago, I sat with my head in my hands, the glare of the laptop screen piercing through the darkness as my husband snored next to me. If he had been awake, he likely would have been wondering who in the world I was talking to.
"This is insane, I am the least qualified person on the planet to do this."
"I SERIOUSLY don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies either--for real."
"But I don't WANT to."
And as I argued. Wrestled. With God as to why He had put this seemingly impossible thing in front of me, before my excuses were even mumbled, I knew that He wasn't asking me. He was telling me. He was telling me that He knew I was scared, that He knew that "all this baby stuff" really and truly freaked me out--and that He knew that there was no way to come out of this emotionally unscathed. And a wrestled a little more. And then a little more.
And as I tried to explain to my husband a little while later what had been brought to my attention (again--not that I told him about the other two times this had been placed in front of me), we talked and prayed about what to do. See, it was July 6th. And the next Stillbirthday Birth and Bereavement Doula Certification Class began on July 7th. And I sat and listened to my husbands thoughts on the matter I was genuinely surprised at how on-board he was. It isn't that his support took me by surprise, it was more the fact that I heard actual genuine excitement in his voice. Did he have reservations? Sure he did. There was the concern about how this would affect me as a person, as a currently grieving and broken-hearted loss momma. There was concern about whether or not I was in a place where I could handle reading and watching this type of material in my current state--not to mention the cost. But we prayed and decided that as we parted ways for the day, we would both continue to pray about it and see where God led us at the end of the day. And as I found myself a few hours later, sitting on the floor of our Sunday School classroom, re-organizing 100 FMN boxes, I thought more and more about what this would look like. And I had nothing but questions on my mind.
How is this going to feel?
What if I get halfway through the material and it's too much for me?
Am I really capable of even making it through the class?
If I even get through the class and I pass the exams, what then?
What in the world would I ever even use this for?
But every single question was met with the same response.
"Come with Me."
And the more I thought and the more I talked it over with God, the more I knew He was inviting me to jump. To take a leap of faith, or whatever you want to call it. To follow Him on the next path of this journey. And to come and see what He had planned. What He had in store.
And so, a week ago Sunday, I talked with my husband one more time. And to my surprise. We were on the exact same page. Now I don't know about you, but I implicitly trust and respect my husband deeply. And if something doesn't smell right, doesn't line up, I know he will have the wisdom to discern that--and I will follow him wherever he leads our family, for that reason among others. And so I nervously texted Karen one more time to make sure she was doing this with me (please, like I could do something like this without her...!?), I punched in my debit card number. And as the welcome information from the head of Stillbirthday began to pour into my email, I blinked back tears as I considered how significant this was.
See, the thing about this certification, about Stillbirthday, is that the whole idea is to be equipped to walk through and support any mother in any birth outcome in any trimester. For close to two years, I have been surrounded by one birth outcome and one birth outcome only: death. This was a result of my own experiences and the experiences of the women that had crossed my path, but it was also a result of my own choice. I gravitated towards it. It's all I know. With the exception of one friend--one friend--I have chosen to not be involved in or participate in any other pregnancy outcome. Showers, gender reveals, announcements, even most of the meal set ups--I have run in the other direction. And so, one of the reasons that this decision is so very significant for me is that I am willingly choosing to be exposed to healthy pregnancies and birth outcomes, in the training material if nothing else. I could not, with words, describe to you how much of a stretch this is for me right now. It's huge.
But there has not been a single day that the Lord has not confirmed that this decision was the one He had for me to make. First, there has been the incredible sense of community and support that I immediately began receiving from the other women in my class. They are kind. They are genuine. Many have suffered a great deal of loss. They are supportive. They speak the same language. And they get it. Then there has been the huge perspective change that has happened in my mind and in my heart. I had never previously considered that a woman might choose to quit talking about the baby she lost altogether, for fear that her choices in the matter would invite only ridicule and hatred rather than compassion and understanding. That she might just start saying that her ectopic pregnancy was a miscarriage because the thought of admitting that she induced a chemical abortion so that the baby growing in one of her tubes would not kill her was just too much to bear. I never even would have thought about that, or how that might feel. And then there was the new phrase I learned. "my baby was born through miscarriage." It took me an entire day to let that one sink in. And for any woman who has ever had a first term miscarriage, or two, or three, you will understand why. And the course content is no joke-- the videos, pictures, discussions, and reading materials-- and the "open book exams"? They should call them open-heart exams. Those questions cut deep. And then there was the live birth video that I watched. And I only made it halfway through and I felt a little nauseous when I turned it off. But I watched it. Voluntarily. There was also the other video that I only made it halfway through for the time being-- the 40 minute training on how a birth and bereavement doula might bathe/help the mother bathe a stillborn 16 week old baby. And as I watched it, I wept for the women who have needed and will need to know how to do something like that.
And I have thought to myself more times in the last week, " I am so unqualified for this...That is the weirdest thing I have ever seen/heard...I had no idea that's what that meant...I never knew that...I never knew that....I never knew that...I could never ever do that." And I truly have never felt so inadequate. So freaked out. And so in the right place.
So to those of you who might be looking at me and thinking, wow, are you really ready for this? Is this really something you are going to actually do? I don't have any answers for you. I will be the first to admit that I have zero clue why God is asking me to do this right now. But as a wise mentor reminded me last week, He would think nothing of moving heaven and earth, of taking me through all of this, for one person. For one woman. Who would need this kind of support, this kind of compassion, this kind of friendship and ministry, somewhere on down the road. He loves each person so much that He would think nothing of that. And I believe that is true. And until such a time as He chooses to let me in on what He has planned in all of this, this is where I'll be.