On Hats

I’m surprised not to see any tumbleweed blowing through here, so neglected has my blog been of late.

I have actually been writing a lot, I just haven’t hit “publish” in a while.

The truth is, a lot of what I have wanted to say, I wasn’t sure how to express in a way that did the subject matter justice, and as for the rest of it, well I don’t know if every thought I have needs broadcasting to the world (although arguably, that’s sort of the point of a personal blog I guess).

I’m here today to talk about hats.  Metaphorical ones.  You could also consider this my resignation letter from doula-ing.

Yes I know I only just started, but already I’m done.

Truthfully, there are many reasons why I’m calling it quits, but really when it comes down to it- it’s mostly the on-call stuff.  To be on-call 24/7 for 4 weeks in a row, with 2 children under the age of 5 is hard.  It was always going to be hard, so I didn’t go into it with rose-tinted glasses, I went into it saying “we won’t know until we try” and we tried, and now we know- it isn’t going to work.

There’s also my CIDP, which I hate to trot out in instances like this as it feels like I’m using it as an excuse.  But one of the (main) reasons I left nursing was to avoid having to prioritise work over my health.  Shiftwork + fatiguing chronic health condition= bad.  In my doula role I recently broke my “staying awake” record, (which was previously 39 hours) to a brain-melting 49 hour stint without sleep.  49 hours.  I woke up at 7am on the Friday and got into bed at 7am on the Sunday and during that time the clocks went back.

You can imagine, I think, what that would feel like as an ordinary person in good health.  For someone whose body trips-out by 7pm somedays having had a full night of sleep the night before, it felt like nothing I can begin to describe, and certainly nothing good.  Pins and needles, weakness, twitching, shaking.  Basically imagine your house needed totally re-wiring (as my body does) and that you put on every single piece of electrical equipment- washing machine, kettle, blender, hair-dryer, vacuum cleaner, every single light blaring…for 49 hours.  That was me after my client gave birth.  A house about to blow.

I can’t do that again.  And to be fair even were I to continue as a doula, it’s unlikely I’d need to.  Labours that long are rare, not unheard of- but it’s not the norm, but then even half that would be pushing it if I’m honest.

There’s other stuff too.  Lots of little things about the reality of life as a doula, that could only really be brought to my attention through actually living and experiencing it, and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to.  If I’d never tried, then I’d always wonder- could I have done it?  What if x, y, z…then would it have worked?  At least this way I have tried and I feel without a shadow of doubt in my bones that it’s not for me.

Not because I don’t love birth.  I love birth.  Not because I’m not passionate about the importance of women having someone to support them during labour, because I am more passionate about that than ever.  Not because I didn’t enjoy the experience I had, because it has been incredibly special, and I feel like I have gained as much as I’ve given, and that’s despite me having taken it on as a voluntary case in this instance.

It’s not because I am disillusioned with doula-ing.  It’s because it isn’t for me.  At least not now anyway.  I suppose you can never say never, so maybe one day it’s possible I will be in a different position, and could come back to it.  The same way I would never say I’d never go back to nursing- who knows…maybe.

But what  I do know is that I’m totally at peace with hanging up my doula hat.  I confess I’m getting a little nervous about my old hats collection- it’s starting to mount up, and when you are remarkably at ease with quitting yet another thing, it does get you wondering if the problem might be you…

Maybe I’m not a hat-person. (Breaking the metaphor- I’m actually really not, at all).

But until I know that for sure, I’ll keep trying them on.  I haven’t been able to sample the fostering one yet, although things on that front are moving pretty steadily now and I’m looking forward to seeing how that will fit, but in the meantime I plan to spend a lot of time in my writing hat, which I imagine as being like a cosy beanie, even accommodating my dreads.


In my parenting hat, which is awesome- a bit heavy at times, but definitely one of my absolute favourites 😉


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