Monday, July 25, 2011

A cloud passes over the sun

Saturday night we returned home after a long (but fun) day spent with our friends from Toronto. It seems as though all days have been long lately, and there has been a lack of sleep in this household. We are playing musical beds - hubby falling asleep while putting A down; me moving to the couch when hubby finally wakes up and comes to bed; and then getting up a couple times a night to tend to A. I've had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and my days are passing by in a blur. Hubby is working 12 hour (or longer!) days, and he is up at 4:45am to make it to work by 6. A sees so little of him that she adopted a "new" Daddy this weekend when our friends came to stay (pictures of that to follow!!)

It is easy to slip into a rut without noticing the subtle signs along the way. These past six months have been exciting ones - I have launched a business, grown into my role as "Mommy-preneur," and completed ten births. I'm also keeping my job with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and have been busy working on some big projects. A, always the busy toddler, keeps us on our toes every day - there are no sleep-ins in this house, and don't even think about sitting down to check your email! She is a wonderfully spirited child, but it's exhausting being "on" all the time. We get a lot of questions about when we'll be having another child, and all I can say is "not anytime soon!"

But there are subtle signs that one is no longer coping so well with a busy schedule:

1) Never taking the time to exercise

2) Forgetting to do the things you once loved to do

3) Finding your coffee mug filled for the third time that day, even though you are committed to limiting your caffeine intake

4) Being OK with eating cheese, raw veggies and bread for dinner every night because you can't be bothered to cook

5) Relying on alcohol to "calm your nerves"

and the BIGGIE...

6) Missing/Cancelling/Reneging on appointments

On Friday a wonderful woman called me to inquire about doula services and we chatted for almost half an hour about her pregnancy and birth goals. We both felt a good connection and agreed to meet the following evening. I wrote everything down on a piece of paper (first mistake), and let hubby know that I would be out that evening. Only the universe truly knows why, but the appointment completely slipped my mind. I sat up in bed at 10pm in a complete panic, and quickly went to call the woman to apologize. She of course sounded a bit upset, and although she said she would call back to reschedule, I am 99% sure I'll never hear from her again.

For some reason this set off a flood of tears (the kind my daughter has, when she can't catch her breath and hiccups a lot). It didn't help that I'd been reading the news for an hour before bed, hearing about the shooting deaths in Norway, Amy Winehouse and the drought in Africa (ok, so maybe I wasn't crying over Amy Winehouse, but it was a recognition of all the suffering that occurs around the world that I have absolutely no control over; whether it's one death, 90 deaths or thousands of deaths).

All of which to say, I think I may be on the path to burn-out. I hear a lot about "doula burn-out" and I always assumed it happened to other doulas - ones that had 4 births a month, who became too involved in their clients and never took time for themselves. But this missed appointment has alerted me to a similar problem - I think I am doing too much. And the funny thing is, I was committed to having the month of September off before this woman called!

I'll never forget the time I took a boat trip on Lake Ontario with my ex-boyfriend and his family. We were chugging along, parallel to the shores of Hog Town (Toronto), and were watching a slow-moving storm system creep up behind the city. The clouds resembled a giant lion's paw, ready at any moment to take a swipe. The sky darkened and the air grew very still. We quickly realized that we needed to find some shelter at the nearby Toronto Islands. We rode out the storm as it bashed the small boat against the docks. We later found out a tornado had touched down somewhere in the city.

I am in that boat now, and have sensed a stillness in the air. The calm before the storm. It is time for me to seek shelter, regroup, and emerge to the dewy-soft after rains.


  1. Big big hugs to you. We have all been there and can expect to be there again throughout our life. Breathe in, breathe out and know that it's okay to say NO! Gah...I should probably take that same advice ;)

  2. Hey, you.
    I am recovering from my second bout in two years of what I would describe as the beginnings of true "burn out." I recognized the signs, put the brakes on and i am in week two of a three week hiatus from my stupid pace. I am making some major changes and realize I cannot go back to my crazy busy life as soon as I feel replenished. Be very careful, Misty. Keep well.
    (a doula who used to attend 4-5 births per month before I had a child.)

  3. thank you both...what is it with us women? Why do we feel the need to do so much and say "yes" all the time?

  4. My fingers are frozen on the keyboard trying to say what I've learned about burn-out. I know it better than I know my best friends and yet, still no wisdom there from me I'm afraid. But I'm grateful to know that I am not alone. I go through bouts of ridiculous 'on' and then days of rocking back and forth in a chair to recover. The only thing I've learned is that I need a life I have some 'control' over so that I can take these leaves of zombieness when I need to (not at the whim of my employer.
    By the way - my life is WAY EASIER because of this (with regards to the 'Easy Door' post. Not less productive, just slightly more kind.
    I hope you find a way to be kind to yourself and still fulfill your dreams of what you want your life to look like. Go easy little birdie.


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