Monday, August 13, 2012

One Birth, Two Birth, Red Birth, Blue Birth

Leslie's midwife holds her baby after a home birth in September, 2010.

I have these words all bunched up (again), but I'm worried (again) that I won't have the grace to communicate them well, and that they'll be watered down into the general birth debate (again).

See, the other day I was remembering my first birth and thinking about the kind midwife who selflessly stopped by to help my daughter out. (Haha, pun.)

This midwife had only met me one time at a fundraising event. She didn't know me very well, nor did she have any obligation to me. She didn't know my choices during pregnancy. She didn't know my educational level. She didn't know my reasons for my birth choices. She didn't know my husband. She didn't know where I lived. She didn't know if I could afford to pay her.

But this midwife volunteered to visit my home in the middle of the night, after I had been laboring for a long time, stalling at each point. She offered her suggestions, not commands. She didn't muscle Dear Husband (DH) to the side, but included him, guiding him on how to help reposition the baby. (Baby was tilted, stalling labor). She sat by my side while I pushed for hours.

She sat there, whispering prayers...and not prayers of fear, but prayers of confidence in me, my strength, my body, and my baby. At some point, I remember asking her something like, "I guess eventually I'll need a c-section?" And she didn't jump on that as an opportunity to scare me or manipulate me. She mirrored it back to me and I saw in myself the resolution to finish this, and the gut feeling that my baby was safe.

She helped me onto the birthing stool after I birthed my baby. Guided the placenta out. She helped me settle down onto some blankets, got a pillow for my head, as I was exhausted from such a long labor. Then she kneeled down and kissed my forehead.

And this is what she said, "Thank you for allowing me to be at your birth."

Now, whenever I hear people argue that OBs are good, that there are good doctors, that you can have a good birth with a doctor, that it's wrong to demonize doctors...I agree. I know doctors who are good at what they do, and who are respectful and kind to their patients. I know mamas and babies who are here today because of the deft skill of an OB.

There are very GOOD doctors in the world. And very BAD ones. There are very GOOD midwives in the world. And very BAD ones. Yet no matter how good (whether in character or skill) you measure your doctor at a hospital...a doctor at a hospital is completely different from a midwife at home. They are inherently different concepts. So when a birth advocate is talking about physiologically normal birth, it is not to insinuate that doctors are bad or that all midwives are angels. It is because location and provider do play a part in altering our birth experiences.

But I won't hold my breath waiting for you to call an American doc when you aren't her patient, to tell her your baby is taking a long time to get past the pelvic brim. I won't wait for you to find one who will then stop by your house in the middle of the night without confirmation of insurance/payment and watch you birth, who will support you in the ways you need and who will then thank you for the honor.

 If you find one, let me know.

Megan's midwife brings her baby up onto her belly after birth.

Rebecca's midwife weighs her baby.

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