Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Ina May Weekend

My work at the birth center is an integral part of my life.  In many ways, it does not seem right to call it work.  Midwifery is so much more than a profession; some refer to it as a calling.  It becomes a core part of your lifestyle and a defining part of your character.  I am proud to be a midwife and cannot imagine doing anything else.  Like many midwives of my generation, I was partially inspired by the work and writing of Ina May Gaskin.  She has been referred to as the Mother of Modern Midwifery and is the author of several groundbreaking books, including Spiritual Midwifery.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I found Spiritual Midwifery and it is part of why I chose the path of midwifery.
Recently, I was blessed to have the opportunity to meet and spend time with Ina May.  (I briefly mentioned this in my previous post titled, Powerful Weekend.)  A midwife friend, Samantha McCormick, who owns Baby Love Birth Center in Florida was hosting a screening of the new documentary Birth Story and Ina May came down to present it.  I was invited by my friend to join the fun and thanks to my generous boss, was able to make the trip.  And boy o boy was it worth it!  The documentary is amazing; funny, insightful, inspiring and truthful.  Luckily, there are  screenings all over the country, you can learn more at  .  I highly recommend seeing it if at all possible.  You will laugh, you will cry and you will hopefully be inspired!

It is an intimidating thing to meet an icon, and I was more than a little nervous.   Sharing dinner with Ina May and several other wonderful midwives is an experience that I will never forget.  I found her to be warm and welcoming, with a wicked sense of humor.  I was somewhat nervous about coming off as a groupie, but was quickly reassured by Ina May's open, down to earth demeanor.  In hindsight, I am grateful and happily surprised that I was able to sit with this group of midwives and feel like an equal among peers.   This “work” is fulfilling and beautiful but it is also exhausting and demanding.  To have the opportunity to be in a circle of other midwives from around the country, including Ina May Gaskin, was a powerful way to re-charge my batteries. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Powerful Weekend

This weekend, I was honored and blessed to have the opportunity to meet and spend time with several amazing midwives at an event in Florida.  One of whom was Ina May Gaskin.  It was truly a gift and I will be sharing part of my experience in an upcoming post, but I wanted to briefly discuss the content of these photographs.  As part of her presentation, Ina May brought parts of her Safe Motherhood Quilt. To stand up with her, and other midwives, to hold and bear witness to this powerful project was intense, moving and inspiring. As a midwife, I feel that guarding the health and safety of Mothers is an integral part of my duties. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously and physically holding this quilt resonated in my bones. Please take some time to learn about this project and visit the website

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Sometimes the universe likes to be funny while keeping us on our toes.

I was on call, there was no one in labor, but I was at the clinic enjoying lunch with my co-workers.  We were all  chatting about our weeks and just enjoying the company.  One of our midwives mentioned a movie she had just seen, "Flight" (which I have not seen) about an airline pilot who has to respond quickly to an emergency, preform some "superhuman" maneuvers and remain calm to manage the situation.  And that she thought it had some correlations to midwifery.  That sometimes, things are progressing calmly and normally when an emergency can arise and we must respond quickly and assertively, utilizing our skills and training to mange the situation.

Several hours later, a family had come in to the center, excited to be welcoming their first baby.  Mama was very tired as she had been in latent labor for a very long time, Dad was hanging in there and they had a fantastic doula with them.  We settled in for the work.  Amazingly, after all the hours and hours of early labor, once at the birth center her labor progressed remarkably fast.  She was a trooper and had a pretty intense ride for about an hour and half as she moved through transition.  Then her sweet little babe had some difficulty, letting us know through her heart rate.  She had several dips, with good recovery, but still she kept having the dips.  We changed Mama's position several times and gave her some oxygen.  I stilled the room, made direct eye contact with Mama and told her that she needed to pull out her Mama Bear and bring her baby to us.  Never underestimate the power of the "Mama Bear Instinct".  This Mama was so focused, so powerful and did amazing.  Her husband and her doula were fantastic.  We were all focused on this little baby and bringing her through safely.  Despite her courageous efforts, the babe was still not coming quite as fast as I liked and I called EMS for a transport.  This gave Mama an extra surge of energy and as the EMS crew arrived, the baby was birthed.  Baby girl was completely tangled up in her cord, it was looped all around her several times almost like a harness. After untangling her, she needed a little help to get started but then did wonderfully.  Thirty minutes later and all were tucked up in bed getting acquainted.

An hour or so after the birth, I was sitting at the desk working on all the paperwork.  The Dad came over to me, gifting me with extremely heartfelt words of gratitude.  We had a little discussion about how the birth had gone and then he says to me, "Have you seen that movie Flight?" Seriously, he said that to me!  I was so surprised, I thnk that I just sat there for a few seconds with my jaw hanging open.  He then proceeded to relay the same basic observations that my midwife colleague had made about the movie earlier that afternoon.  I guess I have a movie to go and rent....