Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not a midwife, my butt.

Okay, I'm going to be really honest here. I'm not stroking my ego in any way or patting myself on the back- this is just the reality of what has gone on, what I've thought, what was said to me, etc.

I have heard it many times, "You're a midwife, Kristina!" I can't deny my ego did take a little stroking to have people 'see' something in me - something that implied that I had something special, something 'next level'. I seriously considered midwifery many times over the years and I have repeatedly come to the conclusion that I'm not a midwife after all. I don't have the ability to keep my fat mouth shut (as I've been told), I am not politically skilled enough. I maybe don't have the guts, either. It's too expensive, I've got little kids at home- blah blah blah.

You know, when you're scared of something, it's easy to drum up excuses, er, *reasons* why you shouldn't do it. The funny thing is when everyone else knows something you don't, no matter how rational you sound.

I decided at some point that I am really committed to being an excellent doula - I want to teach great classes and be an amazing doula and I really don't want to rock that boat. I don't want to want more, I'm really settled. No really.

My main reason for not wanting to be a midwife? Politics and the inherent cannibalization that I see. Eat or be eaten. Keep your head down, do the good work, don't rock the boat too much. The midwives I admire most talk loudly and get hit hard. I knew I'd fall into that camp and seeing how sucky it feels to just be a doula and have midwives pissed off at you, I didn't have any desire to try to play some political roulette just to be able to work the way I wanted. And no one likes to feel disliked. I know that feeling pretty well, and it sucks.

I signed up for a midwifery skills lab. Why? I don't know, honestly. What will I do with these skills? Nothing- I NEVER EVER mix clinical work with doula work, EVER, I feel very strongly about it and I'm very careful. I'm not assisting any midwives. I'm going to learn to do things I might never ever use, but for some reason I laid down 360-nonrefundable-dollars of my hard earned cash and figured I'd work it out afterwards. What does it matter if I use it - I want to know things and I'm going to learn things, mission accomplished.

Setting out to get ready for this lab I decided to re-read Spiritual Midwifery. Well, aside from the whackadoo advice pervasive through it, it was actually pretty inspiring. I was reading it and it hit me, as Ina May spoke about how a midwife needs to have a healthy life in order to show up for her clients, how a midwife meets a family, not just a birthing woman, and how midwives give counsel on more than just how the baby comes out, but on different aspects of life in general, it hit me. It's not about birth. It's not about any ONE thing at all. Catching babies is just one facet of midwifery. I said out loud, "I am a midwife", and I about passed out when it felt totally right. It didn't feel arrogant, or presumptive. It felt like saying, "My name is Kristina".

I thought about the years spent counseling women about their breastfeeding struggles, learning to listen objectively, learning to speak compassionately, talking to women about their cycles, grieving with them as they mourned their miscarried babies, giving direct feedback during times when they were suffering from their own lack of clarity - basically being on the planet, being me. Doing for every woman what I want done for me, and what I invite into my life in my marriage and in my friends. I thought I wasn't a midwife because of the politics, the expense, the risks.

That night I was basically was asked who I thought I was, that I wouldn't have to work and sweat and take chances for my calling? Who did I think I was, that it should be perfect and easy? Wow, that was huge. If it's worth doing, the risks are worth taking, the sweat is worth it, the sacrifices are worth it. It was like it was time to grow up and shed those excuses. I woke up with resolve in my heart - resolve to honor this calling and to stop making excuses. It doesn't mean I'm signing up for midwifery school, but I would stop dismissing the power of the words and let the opportunities come.

I'm not staking out any ground here, I'm just saying that I finally GET what people were saying when they chuckled at my adamant refusals that I am a midwife. I have never caught a baby, and I know that I am a midwife. I have no plans to go to midwifery school, and I know I'm a midwife. It's bigger than your education or how many babies you've caught. In fact I'd daresay that if you're hung up on numbers you're not paying attention to what's important.

Skills lab, here I come. What comes after that? I believe it will unfold on its own and I'll meet what's coming.


BookwormMama said...

You ARE a midwife, of course. Duh.
Glad you finally figured it out and I didn't have to beat you over the head with a fetoscope! LOL

motherwitdoula said...

Michel Odent believes doulas are the new midwives. One doesn't have to be clinical to be with woman. In our vernacular, doula is basically a midwife who doesn't do clinical stuff.
I, too, learn as much clinical stuff as I can, even though I never use it. But maybe one day when I'm fearless and don't have little kids at home I'll take that plunge. But definitely not now. I SO do not want that responsibility.