I am excited to continue with this Ask A Midwife series. I put a call out to social media for questions that folks have always wanted to ask a midwife and I got so many great responses! This time I will answer three questions with a similar theme. In Part One of this series I answered the question, “Describe Birth in Two Words”. My simple answer, after much deliberation was “Sweet and Sour”. So for the theme of this post, I decided to focus on the sweet.
- Do midwives have fun like the rest of us?
The easy answer is “Heck Yeah, you bet we do!” If you ever want to see this in action, attend a midwifery conference. There is nothing quite as wild as a group of midwives (who happen to be independent, opinionated, passionate people) who are “off call” (no responsibilities in the midst of a life continually requiring responsibility) and able to hang out together (because of our lifestyles we rarely get to spend quality time with our midwife-sisters) in a neutral location! Let me just tell you that ‘what happens at conference stays at conference’! Silliness and fun aside, this actually underscores a very important point; midwives are just regular old human beings. We have flaws and warts just like the rest of humanity. We are not perfect and we do like to cut loose every now and again. It is all too easy to place midwives up on a pedestal. I did this with my own midwives, and it has happened to me as well. Being on the pedestal can be a very lonely place and there is only one way to go; down.
- What is the funniest thing that has ever happened at a birth?
This one is tough, simply because there are so many stories to choose from! Birth is inherently human which means that, among many things, it is often infused with humor. Two stories jump to my mind in this particular moment. Interestingly enough, they both involve the bag of waters. Story One: She has been laboring well and long and is finally nearing the end. She is standing at the side of the bed, leaning over and swaying to her birth rhythm. She has been focused and serene with very few words or vocalization. Her bag of waters starts to birth, ahead of the babe. It remains intact and dangles between her legs, also swaying to her rhythm. In between surges, she simply looks up and very matter of factly states, “Well, I guess now I know what it feels like to have balls!” The room immediately erupts into giggles. Her next surge comes and she goes back into her trance. Not long afterwards she births her beautiful babe. Story Two: She is squatting, holding on to the knotted rope from the ceiling. I am kneeling in front of her on the floor. Her bag of waters had released an hour or so before. She is pushing like a warrior, with strength and grace. In one instant, I see that she now has a bulging bag of waters; what released earlier must have been a high leak. Before I can even think of moving, another pressure way surges, with a mighty push the bag bursts and a wave of fluid washes over me. My shirt is soaked through, my face is drenched and there are drips of fluid coming off my hair. The nurse attempts to dry my face, but we are quickly distracted by the emerging beauty of the sweet babe. We all laugh at the messy, wildness of life….and then I go wash up.
- What are the most inspiring and touching things that you see?
This is another tough one! Again, simply because there are so many inspirational moments in birth. The strength of a birthing person; the iron will coupled with the softness of humanity. Exhaustion and exaltation all rolled into one. The squishy, wrinkled, sticky vernix covered bundles of joy. The miracle of the first cry announcing its voice to the chorus of life. Love; the love between the family, the love I feel for each family and the love they work to bring to the world. We know that women are radiant in their birthing time; sweaty, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, covered in all sorts of fluids and goo, hair a mess, wild eyed but radiant none the less. Babies always steal the show, appropriately so, in their glory. But what often gets me, what will bring a tear to my eyes is the love of the partner; the way they can look upon and adore, the way they can be in shocked awe of the power, the way the can know exactly how to soothe and support, the way they can be a protective guardian. These are truly inspiring moments. Love inspires me the most at birth.
OK, what are your answers? I cannot wait to hear them.
Image credit Jennifer Mason