David's been saying forever that I have a time management problem. I always get angry when he says this because I think I manage my time beautifully; I just attempt to take on waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. And I'm really frustrated that no one is blown away by HOW MUCH I get done. (Except for one of my doula clients; she said that she had a dream that I was on speed and she had an "a-ha!" moment of "so that's how she gets all those things done!" That was hugely gratifying but I wish it came from my husband or my family. Alas.) So now I'm beginning to realize that no one is handing out gold medals for me breaking my back trying to do a superhuman amount of stuff. In fact, they tend to get annoyed when I miss family events because of it.
So with that intro, here's all the stuff I've been up to recently:
1. I make money on Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm by taking psychotherapy clients, teaching English, holding prenatal classes, translating and taking house calls as a breastfeeding counselor. And I make damn good money, too, considering the time constraints (which exist so I can drop off and pick up my children from daycare).
2. I make money any time of day and night by taking doula clients, and I make damn good money, too. (But I need more clients.)
3. I volunteer as a doula and apprentice midwife at home births. This has meant this year I spent every Monday doing prenatal visits, and showing up to births whenever it was apparent that someone was in labor.
(As an aside, I started attending births in January of this year. So far, I have attended 18 births; and most of those were home births for free. Last month, I had my first "primary" birth which means that I was taking on the role of the primary midwife and the baby was born into my hands. Wow.)
4. Every Wednesday, I hold mommy-baby group. This is a service I offer English-speaking moms in Budapest for free, which means I pay for the space out of pocket in order to attract pregnant women and women with small babies to me. I've considered this as a marketing expense because I get most of my private doula clients through this group. I've set up a lending library of birth and breastfeeding related books for this group, and hope to formalize a lending library of DVDs as well. I often organize things like baby-wearing classes for them, and try to get "my moms" discounts on breastfeeding pillows and wraps/slings made locally that I sell.
I also recently started holding a miscarriage support group once a month for moms/couples who have lost a baby in Hungary and feel the need for support.
Also coming in 2010 is the once-monthly birth movie night, that's my effort to start showing some of the awesome, awesome films I've been seeing about birth. That'll be once monthly, too.
5. Every Friday, I volunteer at a hospital (the one and only baby-friendly hospital in Budapest) as a lactation consultant in training. I work under the supervision of the head doctor of the neonatology department, who herself was the first IBCLC in this country. I hacked and clawed my way through and around the thick brambles of human pettiness, and got myself approved for Pathway 1 towards taking the IBCLC exam, which I hope to do next summer after collecting 1000 hours of breastfeeding support.
6. I've been working on at least 6 websites, only some of which are presentable at this stage: www.rekamorvay.com which lists my professional services and acts as my "business card" on the net. I get the majority of my clients, both therapy and doula, through this site. I've spent a ton of time developing the content and optimizing it for search engines so people can find me. These days, the site leans heavily towards birth clients and away from therapy clients. I've been wondering what to do about that because I suspect that the birth-y stuff may be turning therapy clients off.
This year, I also put a lot of time into tejmentes.blogspot.com, which is my blog about dairy allergies in Hungarian. It has a ton of info about symptoms, diagnosis, tests, misconceptions and complications, plus recipes and a survival guide for people just finding out they or their babies are allergic to dairy. I can't begin to stress enough that this info was just not available in Hungarian at all, and there is a real dearth of products to replace dairy in Hungary, so this is info that is simply not available anywhere else in Hungarian. For this reason, and because it's a "gastro-blog", it's been pretty popular, even though I haven't been updating it regularly in the past few months. It was also my first experiment in how to create a blog that makes money. I fine-tuned my optimization skills on it, and it's doing very well in terms of visitors (especially considering the tiny target audience: Hungarian-speakers with an interest in dairy allergies), and it has made a small amount of money for me. But mostly, it's a public service.
I tried to put up a "business card" type of page in Hungarian as well; this is www.szuleselmeny.hu, but it's been stagnating. I just don't have the time to develop content in Hungarian. I do have a few articles about breastfeeding and labor on it, though.
I purchased www.budapest-moms.com, after setting up a google group and a facebook group by the same name, both of which have been growing well and getting more active. I've been spending time learning joomla, which is the content management system I chose to use on this site, and it's been a steep learning curve. This would be a community portal for English-speakers in Hungary, with a listing of English-language service providers and resources in English, as well as a message board, and a classifieds section to trade baby stuff. I'm beginning to wonder how I can get "my moms" who attend mommy-baby group and participate on the mailing list more involved in creating content for this site.
I also purchased www.budapest-doula.com, which is my grand experiment in making a website that makes money. I'm using SBI! with this site, and THAT has been a HUGE learning curve. I'm getting a full-on education in on-line marketing. The concept for the site is that it would be a general site with information about natural birth and breastfeeding information, targeting English-speakers all over the world, and that this general site would catch and funnel English-speakers in Hungary (a tiny sub-market) to my www.rekamorvay.com website for birth services. I was having trouble getting my rekamorvay site listed on the first google page for search terms such as "budapest doula" and this website has *already* taken care of that problem. I haven't had enough time to devote to this site, but the education I've been getting through SBI! has been incredible. If you've ever wondered about making a site that makes money, I can only recommend them. It's not easy, it takes an enormous amount of learning, but they support you every step of the way, and steer you in the right direction. Awesome product.
I've also been spending a great deal of time just reading and reading the scientific literature on various birth practices (down to the original research articles where I can find the full text for free online), reading ob-gyns' blogs, reading midwives' blogs, reading birth advocates' blogs, and of course reading books, too (midwifery textbooks, anthropological books about birth practices around the world, childbirth educator books, etc) and I just got mad enough one day to go ahead and create szuleszetestudomany.blogspot.com. I won't link it because there's nothing there yet, but it is meant to be a science blog that translates the available obstetric scientific literature into Hungarian. I realize I have about 0 time for this, and I also realize I may really piss off some doctors in Hungary with this blog. The title means "obstetrics and science" in Hungarian, and since I'm not, well, a doctor, I think whatever I post there will just piss people off, but I've decided I don't care. Because I've had enough of all the crap they do in obstetrics in Hungary, like the routine episiotomies, routine enemas, routine shaving, routine tying women to stirrups, routine fundal pressure, and the list goes on.
7. I've been edumacating myself. I've enrolled in a childbirth educator certification course through Childbirth International, since this is the one childbirth educator course I can do without having to travel somewhere far in order to attend a course physically. I also attend a monthly doula workshop organized locally by the former president of the Hungarian Doula Association, in which we attempt to learn from each other on how to make being a doula viable business in Hungary and how to improve the service we provide. I attend case study discussion groups whenever I can. That used to be once-twice monthly, but recently I've been cutting back because I realize I'm doing too much and not spending enough time with my family. I just attended a DONA International workshop for birth doulas in Szombathely. I will probably pursue DONA's birth doula certification, and possibly even their doula trainer certification. (I'm already "certified" through the Hungarian Doula Association, even though their process consists only of attending a 4-day workshop and becoming a member of the organization, as opposed to DONA's daunting 26-step process.) I'm thinking seriously about becoming involved in setting up childbirth educator certification in Hungary, since we have nothing of the sort here. That would involve using my Childbirth International childbirth educator cert (once I finish it) to become certified through another organization, maybe Lamaze International, to bring their model to Hungary. I don't know yet. I'm beginning to realize I'm reaching the limits of human capacity here.
And oh yes. I'm applying to graduate school at CEU for next fall. I want to pursue a PhD in something childbirth related. All this reading I've been doing just makes one thing clear: I need more time to do even more reading, and I need somebody to pay for all that time I spend reading. And I'm getting serious about getting some stats published. I want to crunch some hard numbers for hospital births versus home births in Hungary, and NEITHER is available in Hungary right now. The last stats we had for C-sections is from 2006, and we HAVE no stats that I can see for other interventions which we know to be prevalent and routine. I think women need these numbers in hand to make informed decisions about which hospital they choose. And of course home birth midwives cannot publish their stats because they'd be prosecuted. But I know the two busiest home birth midwives collect data on their births, and I want to publish them, withholding names of course.
There are two departments at CEU where my research interest might fit: one is the Gender Studies department and the other is the Sociology/Social Anthropology department. I'm applying to both, but the folks at the Gender Studies department have been far more enthusiastic about having me there than the folks at the Anthro department. The Gender Studies folk have all but said that with my credentials (I guess a Masters from an Ivy League school goes a long way) and my experience, I'd be accepted. But I need to come up with a PhD research proposal that furthers the theory of gender studies, so now I have to find an angle that lets me do the research I want to do while fitting into the theory of Gender Studies. I would highly prefer a PhD in Anthro to a PhD in Gender Studies, BUT having learned from my last PhD stint at Cornell, I realize how important a good working environment is, so I may end up with a PhD in Gender Studies, which is not ideal, but it will be worth being around people who are enthusiastic about having me and my research there. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, right? What makes this a gift horse is that the CEU offers a very generous scholarship and stipend to all their PhD students. If I pull this off, I will have obtained a PhD with zero debt and zero expenses out of pocket, which I think would be pretty damn impressive (with special thanks to my Dad who financed my BA).
The PhD program is also my Plan A for a job after my maternity leave ends in March 2010. At that point, I will officially go back to work for Masped where I used to teach English before I left on maternity leave back in 2005. They are legally required to take me back and pay all my accumulated vacation days and sick leave, which will see me through financially to September, at which point I hope to start at CEU as a PhD student. Their stipends are generous enough to count as a salary in Hungary, so I would be able to drop translating and English teaching, and devote all my time to studying and attending births. I'm hoping to be able to keep my mommy-baby group and doula business going while I go to grad school. Hopefully, I will have taken my IBCLC exam by then, and will already be a board certified lactation consultant. That won't change anything I do business-wise, but it will at least be out of the way.
So that's what I've been up to. Somebody be impressed. Please. ;)