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Twenty years ago, I was a graphic designer. I worked mostly in the music business, designing CD covers for the labels here in Nashville.
When I had a baby, something in me changed. I became fascinated with birth, and even more, with the process surrounding it. I had had helpful people caring for, teaching, and empowering me to put together a birth story that I wrote myself, in full awareness of my options. But based on my friends’ birth stories, there was still an old order of maternity care out there, following norms left in place from decades previous. I had just been lucky.
I knew that the process surrounding birth was beginning to change, and I very much wanted to be a part of it. I spent a year studying and certifying to be a childbirth educator and then went on to teach. But as my “real” job, I was still designing those CD covers for the music industry. I thought of birth as my “side hustle,” not something that was my actual job.
I didn’t release my identity of “graphic designer,” and embrace the identity of “birth worker,” for a long time. Even when “graphic designer” fought me every step of the way and “birth worker” was inviting and fun, I couldn’t see it. I had no openness to that change in identity, and it made a lot of years unnecessarily difficult ones.
But one day, a door in my heart opened a crack, and I saw another person standing on the other side. So I opened the door a bit wider and let her in. That crack of openness to change changed my path entirely. But also, it didn’t. I am a childbirth educator, going on 18 years now. But I am also still a designer and a creative, only now it’s for the birth world and for all of the reasons birth hooked me in the first place.
Birth’s like this too, you know. You have this firm idea of what you think it will be like or want it to be like. But birth has a real mind of its own. And the best-laid plans are the ones that birth seems to enjoy rearranging the most. Over the years, the folks I see have the best memories of their births – and the most resilience afterward – are the ones who go in with an idea of what they’d like to happen, but with that door in their hearts open a crack to the change that can always knock at any moment. The less you have to wrestle with the door in labor, the better.
The moral to this story – and probably of life – is this: Don’t wait until change has spent years knocking. Don’t hold tightly to the knob so that it can’t get in at all. Leave the door to your heart open a crack in the first place.
Angela’s music choice to accompany this Guidelight is “Who Will I Hold?” by The Avett Brothers
Angela is in her 18th year of teaching childbirth and is part of the original team that opened Baby and Company in 2015. Even though her background is in promotion and design, she was called to teaching when she had her own children and realized what a deeply life-changing experience it was for women, and that it could even more so with the right guidance. Baby and Company has given her the opportunity to bring together all parts of her diverse background in order and do what she most loves to do: provide grace and insight to individuals in their transition to becoming a family. On weekends, you can find her kayaking, making mixed-media artwork, and sitting on the front porch with her husband and dogs.