Wanna Be A Midwife?

Everything you need to know to pick your path to midwifery
June 18th, 2013

I’m a midwife. Boom.

The great thing about being a midwife is that it is a little like the Spanish Inquisition. I’ll be sitting in some public place looking pretty much like anybody else in the middle of a conversation, and then I say “I’m a midwife”. Boom. Petite silence. Nobody was expecting that.

Next comes a varying amount  of introductory information, depending on the company I am keeping – from explaining what a midwife is to describing what kind of midwife I am to where I work.  Then, beat-beat, the wait and see begins.

Either the conversation picks up where it left off, or someone begins to talk about birth. My guess is that more than half the time, the subject shifts to birth and I am not the one who takes it there. Plus, this phenomenon is not gender- specific. One of my favorite examples of this occurred when I reluctantly went to a business dinner with my then, new husband.

As far as I could see, the evening was doomed before it began. Not seeing myself as a trophy wife nor a socialite, I couldn’t imagine what I might have to contribute to a room full of ex-military, conservative business folks. As luck would have it, we were seated next to my honey’s boss. “Not good” I thought to myself. In his never failing supportive style, hubby explained that I was a nurse and a midwife and blah, blah, blah about all I had done. I was expecting deadpan awkward silence, instead Mr. Bossman launched into the most touching and endearing birth story about his grandson, leaving me with tears in my eyes.

True, usually it is women. They want to talk about their births or pregnancy. Maybe they had a midwife, maybe not. Maybe they had a great birth, but often not. Sometimes it’s about the incredible challenges they overcame. But somehow,  we are the vessels designated to receive the narrated sacred journey that stills lives inside them. I suspect this story-telling phenomenon happens with OB nurses and other providers too although I don’t know how much or if this has been studied. I just know that when I utter the word midwife, it is like hanging out a sign that says “tell me your story”.

But then I think about the other side of it. That means there are mothers walking around waiting for the right person to come along so that they can share their story. Do we just need to tell some stories over and over to the right kind of person as a way to heal, renew ourselves and be complete? I think so. I do.  I think I just did.

Maybe this is part of our work as midwives in the world. Maybe giving birth does not end at some point in time but lives on in mothers and as midwives part of what we do is continue to nurture and support the heart and soul of women whose pregnancy, labor and birth live on forever inside them.