cherrypumpkins

Reflections of life


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What I’m Worth

I get it that doulas have to be paid a certain amount because they are worth their weight in gold, and they have to charge a rate that makes it viable to go to work. Rates that will cover their expenses for instance like childcare , transport costs etc etc. There comes a point though, when clients begin to question fees, as I was recently . They were more than happy to pay what I was asking for, but not so happy to pay the same to a colleague who did not have the same amount of experience as me, nor the training, or the nursing and midwifery background. I then thought to myself, that 1) It was time to raise my rates and  2) Clients do look at training, certification and previous experience when it comes to rates.

Looking back, when I qualified as a registered general nurse, my first job was paid at then what was known as a D grade. Basic rate for a qualified nurse. I can’t remember what it was, something like  GBP 10,000 a year. We had yearly increments of this rate until we went for promotion to a higher grade, which meant taking on more responsibilities, which we were more capable of doing as we had been gaining experience in the early years. This would mean a significant pay rise as compared to the yearly increments.

I automatically went up a grade when I completed my midwifery training, because I was then a registered midwife and had gained an additional  qualification, knowledge and skills. With this also came additional responsibilities, and my pay reflected this. Throughout my service with the NHS, I felt I was adequately paid for the job I was doing. I was not going to be a millionaire, but that was not why I became a nurse and midwife. We had the benefits of 7 weeks leave of work a year, sick pay and a great pension plan.

Back to what I was saying about doulas pay. So, if we equate a doula’s experience and previous learning, training, workshops that they attend, then it works out that the more experienced ones would demand more money and perhaps attract more clients as the clients  would want these doulas to be looking after them.

When I started out as a doula, I only asked for $15-20 an hour, as I was new. OK, I had a nursing and midwifery background of 19 years, had had 2 children of my own whom I breastfed, delivered more than 100 babies, looked after even more and helped mums breastfeed, BUT, I was new to the doula role. With this in mind, I did not feel I could command a higher rate. That would come with time. With each family that I worked with, each recommendation that I would get from them, I was building my experience and able to say, I am worth this rate.

Now, after more than a year of working as a postpartum doula and looking after more than 14 families, I have put my rates up and am worth it!


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Describe me in 4 words please.

I was trying to update my profile on google+ and asked Dave to describe me in 4 words. This was what happened next… he first went, “urhhhhgghhhhhhhh” in a loud groan.

“Energetic!” First decipherable word.

Then he held both his hands on either side of his head like he was in pain…. he looked it too.

Great reaction, don’t you think!

He then said, “how do you describe a person who wants to feed the world, not just with food but also with love and nurturing? ”

Finally some words that I could use. Then the word honest, “you’re very honest”.

Yes folks, that I am. Energetic, Nurturing, Loving, Honest… 4 words that describe me… the very essence of me.


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Time for reflection

I can’t believe we’re nearly halfway through April already. Time is surely flying by and in about 10 days I shall be flying home to Malaysia to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday with the rest of my family at home. Unfortunately, Dave and the children will not be accompanying me and this will be the first time I will be away from my family for more than 3 days in a row.  I am wondering how they will cope with me away, though I know they will be absolutely fine and also enjoying a break without me.. as I can sometimes be a bit of a nag, I was born in the year of the horse after all!

2014 brings a few changes in my life. I am giving up guaranteed paid work to embark on my doula career. I have been asked why am I giving up the certainty of a pay cheque every 2 weeks in favour of the uncertain demand for postpartum doula work. I am doing this because I feel doula work gives me more job satisfaction. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a baby breastfeeding contentedly, a new mom enjoying that experience and empowering new parents to care for their precious babies with confidence. Doula work pays much better than the pharmacy could ever pay me, though it’s not all about the money.  I have so many skills from my years of working as a nurse and midwife, it seems a shame not to put those skills to good use.

Having 19 years of experience as a nurse and midwife and not being able to care in the way a nurse cares for her clients in the last 3.5 years has been a struggle for me. I have a lovely rapport with the regular customers at the pharmacy but it’s just not the same. Working at the pharmacy is not ever going to bring the same amount of job satisfaction I had as a nurse.

I remember an incident that happened a few years ago at Frankie and Benny’s in Nottingham. I was out dining with my family( it was one of our favourite restaurants as they were really child friendly and my in-laws liked it there too.) A waitress approached our table and said to me, “Hi Suyin, I haven’t seen you at the surgery for a while. I just wanted to thank you so much for helping me overcome all those problems I was having when I first started at the university. Thank you so much for listening to me, giving me your time and helping me through a very tough time. I am so much better now, I am  happy and life is great!” Wow! In front of my family, she came to thank me. I had been a practice nurse at the local university’s GP surgery but had left about 6 months ago. I felt a pang, I did miss my students, but I was in a better job. And things were about to change big time for us, we were about to leave for Trinidad and Tobago for 2 years as Dave had managed to secure a job out there.

It’s funny when you think back.  That was 2009. If what we had planned for ourselves went accordingly, I would be writing this in England, as after our 2 year stint in T&T we were returning to the UK for the kids education. But life has a way of throwing curve balls at us, just to make sure we’re all still awake, and on the ball, so to speak. So, it’s 2014 and we’ve been in Canada for 3.5 years! Yes, Canada. What happened was our stint in the caribbean was cut short and we were posted to Toronto. It’s been tough trying to settle here but settled we have. The kids are well entrenched into the education system, and for once Jasmine is happy at school. Things are going well, she has achieved a lot in her last year of elementary school… she got into the high school that she wanted, into the ACAM programme -Academy of creativity and Multimedia, and also secured a place in Band Camp , an enrichment programme for music students. Her teachers love her and always comment what a great contribution she is to her class.

Mitchell too is thriving in high school. We chose a Catholic High School for him as it was the closest high school to home that he could easily walk too. Ok, it was also academically excellent being the best Catholic High School in the York District Catholic School Board.  We had some reservations as we are not catholic and there were some concerns on Mitch’s part regarding religious education, instruction and the various masses and assemblies he was required to attend as students of a catholic school.  We thought it would be good to have some religious education as we didn’t go to church or temples and it would let Mitch decide for himself  what religion he would like to be. He has represented the school in Dragon Boat and Ultimate Frisbee last year and Ultimate Frisbee this year. No dragon boat this year which is sad, as the teacher who was in charge of dragon boat retired this year and there was nobody to take over.  He is also Grade 10 representative for the student council of the school which he enjoys enormously.  All in all he is a great all rounder, his grades are very good, he is very popular among his peers and a joy to teach in class according to all the teachers that have had him in the last 2 years. We are so thankful and grateful that both our children have developed so well despite the major upheavals of 2 big moves in the last 4.5 years. Of course they still miss England, their aunts, uncle, cousins and friends, but they are also enjoying what life has to offer here in Canada.

Dave too is thriving in work, he has just been accepted as a candidate in his company’s Future’s programme… it’s a programme for the up and coming future leaders of the company, future managers. He has a long commute each day which means leaving the house before 6am most mornings but he’s usually home by 5pm.

So, all appears to be good and in order, our application for landed immigrant status seems to be progressing well, just the medical to get out of the way and hopefully we’re all set. I am still slightly unsettled, I guess my work life has been a bit turbulent since arriving here. Not being able to work in the field I was trained and educated for was a big blow, but I think I have found a way to make things better for me.

I was watching The Big C last night, it’s a drama about a family where the mother is undergoing treatment for malignant melanoma and the dad who has just suffered a major myocardial infarct but survived and has been fitted with an internal defib to correct arrythmias. They went on a life changing weekend retreat and now the father has been roped in to give talks about changing your life for the better. In one of his talks, he talks about by “Flicking the switch”. Instead of harping on how bad a card life has dealt you, take matters into your own hands and flick the switch.. make the change you want to be. I know it’s TV and drama and you’ve probably got to take a few steps before flicking the switch but deciding to do it is the first step. Make that decision and when you do, something just lifts in you, negativity pushed aside, with something to motivate you to look towards the future and to go forth. As my kids would say, “GO, GO Power Rangers!” Hahahahaha

I used to be so negative, and in some respect I still am, but am beginning to climb out of this cloud of doom. I think my new found Canadian pals were sick of me moaning to them about how hard done by I was, and how badly the College of Nurses had handled things, but I think somehow, this was meant to be. Karma decided that nursing in Canada was not for me, it gave me that opportunity to discover what else I could do, how I could transfer my wealth of skills into another worthwhile profession. I am so thankful that I found a friend in Vikki Kidd, who was a midwife in the UK, but is now an International Board Lactation Consultant here in Toronto. We talked about what else I could possibly do and the word doula was mentioned. I wanted to investigate being a lactation consultant but being a doula was interesting too.  I have all the skills, I have the calm demeanour, I love working with women and babies and I am passionate about breastfeeding. I researched the idea and found Kimberley Fernandez of the Toronto Doula Group who was running CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association) Doula training and the rest is history. I trained with her almost a year ago, and am only a few weeks away from becoming a certified postpartum doula.

Anyhow, I am grateful that my clients feel so comfortable around me.  They feel able to discuss almost anything with me, be it physical or emotional. I feel especially privileged to be able to help my clients through this first few weeks of parenthood and for that I am thankful.  As always I retain an impartial stance, but am there as a sounding board for my clients, to help ease them through any emotional stresses and strains they may be undergoing. Childbirth should be a happy time, and anything I can do to contribute to this can only be a good thing.

 


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Been 2 years..

Just a quick note, not blogged on here for more than 2 years… have started a doula blog, so no doubt that will take up most of my time. I am still about… should change this to a reflective blog.. 

Today, I learnt the important lesson of clarifying the service that people have bought from me. I amy be $150.00 out of pocket because of this. Needless to say I am not very happy about this but it’s lesson well learnt! 

Will just have to do better next time round, make sure it is clear and written down in ink and signed….