Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This story has been a long time coming, and is one that has forever left me a gift of love. One of the lessons that has been most difficult to accept, is one that I knew going into this profession. It is this; not all births go well and not all outcomes are as expected. However, knowing this on an intellectual level and experiencing it on a visceral, feeling level are two very different things. As guardians of birth, it is our responsibility to create sacred, safe space for each birthing Mother, her baby and her family. This will look and feel differently for each family, but is no less important. As I sit down to write this piece, I have been blessed to attend the births of 142 babies. To be present at the threshold of life and hold that space as a midwife. Each and every birth has been special and each one has left me changed. Naturally, the births have changed me in different ways, some subtle and some not so subtle.

His Mama is so strong, beautiful in the work of labor. She works gracefully with the intensity of labor. His Dad is wonderful in his loving support, creating that amazing balance of strength and gentleness. Despite the hard work, we are having fun and the atmosphere is one of happy expectation. It is their first baby and all through the labor, I cannot but think how blessed this little soul will be to have these two parents. While all babies are a blessing and welcomed with love, there is something special about that first one, the unknown experience. One of my favorite things about this work, is being invited into this completely intimate time in the life of a family. While, no third person truly knows the inner workings of an intimate relationship, I feel that at births, I am blessed to catch a small glimpse of that secret space.

She was on the birth stool, in that crazy, beautiful time of crowning. His head would peak out at us and then retreat back to his Mother, preparing for his entry into our world. For me, this transition is nothing short of a miracle, every birth leaves me in awe of the power, wisdom and beauty of the design. This transition was smooth and gentle, his head slipping out between contractions. I felt his life, strong and determined, but I also felt something else. Something like a shadow and just knew, without knowing how, that he would need all that strength. Then, the rest of him was born, he was pink and breathing, his heart rate strong, so I gladly handed him up to the arms of his Mother and Father. We helped them all to the bed and tucked them in. Baby continued to have good color and breathe well, snuggled up to his Mother's chest. Her placenta was easily birthed, placed in a bag and laid next to them. The next 2 hours were of cautious watching, he was doing well, but there was something wrong. He was beautiful in that brand new baby way, but his face was asymmetrical and had some palsy. His precious little ears were small and off set. However, he was so content and peaceful snuggled up to Mama. His parents were in that euphoric place of discovery and there seemed no emergent reason to disturb that peace.

Eventually, though, it was time to take a good look at him. It became clear that he would need extra attention, that he would not be going home with Mama and Papa. I made phone calls, arrangements and kept his parents informed and supported. Between myself and the nurse, we took care of everyone, as best we could. Another midwife came in and they all embarked on the trip to the hospital NICU. It was incredibly difficult to stay behind while they left, I feel as though a piece of my heart will always be with them, but I was in no place to be of had been a long shift.

His journey has been hard fought and punctuated by multiple hospital stays and surgery. At one point, his parents took him home on hospice care, wanting to love him at home and not through the lens of the NICU. He is one of the most amazing humans, young or old that I have ever known, and he has surprised every expert at every opportunity. He was taken off hospice care, since he made it clear that he was not ready to leave us. His life is a lesson in love, perseverance and faith. His parents are testament to the strength of that love. His heart so perfectly filled and surrounded by love, but imperfectly shaped has now been mended and he is ready for the next live and thrive! Ultimately, I am the blessed one to have been touched by this family and the lessons they have shared with me. I am thankful for any little part that I have been able to play in their story. And I am so excited, this spring to attend his first birthday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Let's Get Along

I was recently lucky enough to attend the MANA/CAM Conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was my first MANA conference and it was a lot of fun! It is an amazing experience to be surrounded by people that you share a passion with. To meet others walking on the same path. I was very proud to count myself in the company of so many great midwives, doulas and birth workers!

A heard a quote that was very powerful for me,

"All midwives need each other, and the women need all the midwives." -Judi Mentzer

This struck a particular chord with me. On paper and by training, I am a Certified Nurse Midwife or a CNM. In my heart, I am a Midwife, just simply a midwife. I do not feel that I am any better or worse of a midwife based on the initials placed after my name. Other midwives may have different initials, like CPM, RM, DEM, LM or any other number of options. To me, these are all midwives. One of my biggest frustrations in this profession is the "in-fighting" and the tearing down of eah other based on the initials we carry. How can we as birth workers expect to grow our numbers and support more women when we spend too much energy bickering amongst ourselves? Who needs the "establishment" to hold us down, when do such a good job of it on our own? Let's face it....women come in all stripes and persuasions....and they all deserve and need midwives should also come in all stripes and persuasions!

I don't want to get too high on my soap box, but I do want to make my point. We have so many struggles facing our profession, let's just get out of our way, try to move forward from the divisions of the past and focus on the incredibly important task at hand....supporting, educating and empowering women!!