Sunday, January 17, 2010


I received an email from a mother I worked with. After I wrote her back, I realized that it was something I wanted to say to all the women I've ever assisted in the journey of childbearing. Here is my response:

I am filled by your words and they help remind me of who exactly is on the other end of the work I do. I recently described the life of a midwife as an avalanche where I myself am trying to keep from getting swept under. It is wonderful to have your thoughts to reflect on and they cause me to pause and remember the meaning of my work.
I am honored to have a place in your life, and you have a very special place in my life as well. I've tried to solidify in my mind what it is like to care for you as a midwife, when you helped and mentored me into becoming one. It is a circular experience where the receiver is the giver and around and around. This cycle is born out in the natural world where the death of one organism gives life to others, and in our own generational cycle when our aging parents come to rely on us like children and infants for their care and we are required to give back all that we were given in ways that we as parents could never conceive of needing from our children.
I learned a lot from our relationship about the sacred vulnerability that exists in pregnancy. It is a reality. Most childbearing women feel vulnerable and in lots of ways they are. What a special trust given to care providers who must hold a woman delicately so that her strength is exposed and her growth is allowed for. In the past I feared and condemned the medical model of care, but I have a healthy respect for their role since becoming a care provider myself. Now I find myself mostly shocked at our societal naivete and recklessness in trusting the most tenuous states and delicate moments of our lives to those who are gruff, depleted, calculating, impatient, inconsiderate, overworked, callous and unknowing. This may sound a little cliche but it's not abstract or theoretical for me like reading Suzanne Arms was 5 years ago, I live this everyday and I see the effects on our whole world. We have relegated the sacred moment when new life is created to a jail of machines and foreigners and drugs. We fear the essential power of creation and do not understand it's proper place in our daily lives. These miracles are for witnessing. These gifts are ours to experience and enjoy. It is our birthright.