I sat dumbfounded as I tried to write my midwife a note. "Thanks for helping me through 16 hours of labor . . . and for holding my feet in the air for another two hours while I pushed . . . and thanks for feeding me protein bars between contractions . . . " That sounds weird.
"Thanks for answering your phone late on Thanksgiving night when I hiked against your judgment and started having contractions." Still weird.
Our midwife has been in our lives for a year now. In February of 2014, we met. A few months later I shot her an email; the strip is pink!!!! (professional, right?). Ever since then, our midwife has been a constant. I've also had the chance of getting to know a handful of other midwives within her circle (for various reasons, all positive) and for this I am thankful. As a result I have gotten to test many "midwife waters" and experience a community that I never expected. If you want to go the midwife route, Phoenix is rich with options. I wrote here about why we chose to have a midwife assisted delivery and today I wanted to share some thoughts regarding the experience.
Passion: Last week our midwife stopped by just because. Because she loves her clients. Because she's passionate about serving families, especially mama and baby. She loves her job and it’s evident in everything she does. This wasn’t a visit we “paid for.” This was simply because she is kind and takes a genuine interest in her clients. We sat on the couch, she played with R and we just talked. We always hug hello and goodbye. It’s a relationship, professional yes, but always personal.
Autonomy: It was our birth. During pregnancy, labor, and delivery, I was able to be myself and Rick and I were able to do what we wanted and thought to be best. We were never pressured or bossed around. We were never scolded or pacified. Our feelings, concerns, thoughts, and wishes were always honored. In fact, there were a few times when I said something to the affect of, “I know it’s my decision but I WANT your input.” The midwives I have had the chance of getting to know, were slow to speak but quick to listen. They always honored us as a family.
Partnership: At my very first consultation, before I was even pregnant, I used the word "delivery" and was quickly interrupted by my midwife and her apprentice. They both inserted, "We do not deliver the baby, YOU deliver the baby." I rolled my eyes. Whatever. Fast forward 11 months and 16 hours. Towards the end of my labor I was getting frustrated and asked (read: demanded), "what position do you think I should try?" I was met with, "I don't know. I'm not in your body, I can't tell you." SELAH. Let's all take a deep breath because this is the part where I almost kicked my midwife in the face. But she was right. We were rounding the corner. I needed to collect myself and listen to my body. I needed to tune in and get to work. She never assumed charge. She never rushed or ordered me. She was there to work with me and my body. She gave instruction as needed. She encouraged me as needed and she challenged me as needed. Throughout the pregnancy and delivery, she trusted my body and the process. It's a partnership.
I really wrestled with a particular decision regarding a particular newborn procedure (NO ONE needs more vaccine debate so let’s just roll with my choice to be vague here). I researched a ton. I prayed. I talked with other moms. I prayed more. I talked with my herbalist. I knew what I wanted to do on an intellectual level but for some reason, my stomach was in knots. I couldn’t shake it. My midwife sat next to me on the floor and I explained my mixed thoughts/feelings. She reminded me that she couldn’t make the decision for me. “I know . . .” I replied. “So what do I do?” She told me to listen to my (brand new) motherly instinct. She didn’t give me a lecture on vaccines. She didn’t push me. She told me to listen to my gut. She was my partner.
Discernment + Humility : She never hesitated to approach me with a concern or red flag. On two separate occasions she had concerns regarding Ruby's growth. The first time was in utero (Ruby was fine), the second time was a week after Ruby was born (Ruby was not fine but I'm happy to report she is healthy as can be these days!). Both times, my midwife contacted me immediately, calmly shared her concerns, explained her thought process and pointed me in the direction I needed to go. She may have been slow to speak but she knew when to speak. Does that make sense? That’s how I view discernment anyways . . . it’s the quiet wisdom that allows us to distinguish “when to” and “when not to.” I trust her discerning ways.
On both occasions mentioned above, my midwife pointed me to a source outside of herself, even an OB (*gasp*). She never spoke an arrogant word in regards to natural birth or midwifery or epidurals or anything for that matter. Her main priority was my health and Ruby’s health. When either of those things were compromised, she assessed the situation and saw it fit we see someone else with more expertise. She always followed up with me either on the phone or in person to help me navigate new waters. Again, her main concern was our well being, always. She exercised discernment, proceeded with the humility, and always followed up with love and care.
In short, my experience was awesome. Looking back I can see how pieces fit together and how grace was interlaced in the details. I wouldn't really change anything . . . labor and delivery was hard work but my body did it. My mom and husband were THE best companions a girl could ask for. My midwives were everything I wrote above and more . . . some things are kept close to the heart.