Friday, April 30, 2010

Emptying the cup

Experiences over the last several weeks have brought me to a moment of clarity and I wanted to write it out to be able to revisit it as I go forward.

Facebook has been informative and a total bane to me as I consented to the Universe's plan for me to become a midwife. I have been reading with interest the posts of midwives I know and learning a lot about where they stand and what that means. I hold myself against their points of view to try to figure out where I sit. I ask questions, I say what I think, I get in trouble... what else is new, right?

My husband recently said (and has said a few times throughout our relationship) that I'm easily influenced- I tend to go along with the group. This is absolutely true about me in some ways. I decide where I stand, and then when I figure out who stands on that same side, I tend to take on the characteristics of that group. I see that I am not the only one who falls into this! It's interesting to visit parenting websites where there is a major theme (not naming the one I'm thinking of but you probably know it) - there develops a culture where the radical tend to set the tone and the moderate eventually either become more radical, or depart for smoother sailing.

I'm a sucker for radical, I won't even try to pretend I'm not. I don't care if it's radical left or radical right- it fascinates me. There's something in me that likes living on the edge of controversy. The funny thing is that the main way I survive there is by being a good diplomat and communicator.

Seeing the radical sides (because there is more than one) of midwifery on Facebook, having visitors to my blog who decided to not only misinterpret things I've stated (and very clearly, I might add) but also share their interpretations in an attempt to put my integrity into question (fail, btw.), in addition to the dark-of-the-night existential question of "Who am I and who will I be as a midwife?" have all led me to realize that the best thing I can do is to NOT put my flag in the sand and say that I know who I will be. The best thing I can do right now is to listen and watch.

Listen and watch, open my heart, have boundaries, but to listen, and to watch. I'm seeing so much more now that I've decided to do this. I'm not working to understand, rather to just let the information and feelings settle on me like fine snow.

Can I learn from people who have positions that are polar opposite than mine? Yes. I want to learn from them, I'm HUNGRY to learn from them. Dr. Amy? Bring it on. Have I learned positive things from her (despite her hateful spew?) Yes. Go ahead and shoot me, but this is the truth for me. I can't set aside what resonate to me as 'truths' and even ole Dr. Whatsherface has a precious few valid points buried under neath all the vitriol.

I was talking with a good friend today who is a midwife about midwifery school and what I think I do and don't want to get out of it. It hit me (and I said it outloud to her) that while my first inclination is to look for a school that aligns with my beliefs about who I want to be as a midwife, that maybe the very best gift I could give myself is to not try to decide that, and just be open to what I learn along the way. Maybe the best give I give myself as I proceed is just an open heart.

A friend asked me if I would take VBAC's once I'm a midwife. I answered that I don't know. We argued that midwives who won't take VBAC's don't care about birth, or women, and how the issue was far from that black and white. I don't want to claim a position on it because if I decide that I will and then don't, then I am going back on my word. It's easier for me, better even, to say that I don't know. For one, I had a really fantastic conversation with my friend around this and what it means to say YES when you don't fully know what you're agreeing to, which we might not have had had I just said yes/no. The truth for me today is that I don't know who I will be as a midwife. I don't want to narrow what I might learn by dismissing arguments that don't align with my philosophy. I want a relatively empty cup so that I can sift through it on my own.

I want to walk into every birth I assist with an open heart and know that even if the preceptor I am working with is difficult, that we clash, that she does things I wouldn't do, or whatever, that she is a blessed teacher and that I am a teacher for her as well. I don't want to go in thinking that just because I've been attending births as a support person that I know ANYTHING about taking the responsibility for the very lives of my clients. I don't know what that is like at all. Being a doula is nothing more than an introduction.

So while I've reduced the 'noise' that has pulled my focus away from the birth issues themselves, I am still eager to hear from the teachers out there who will challenge me. I don't want to agree or disagree, but rather to just try things on and see how they fit. I will keep doing that as I go along and define myself as a midwife. I will probably do that forever, I wager.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who am I?

The midwife identity... I'm reading with such a different level of interest now the conversations (mostly on Facebook) about things like licensing, hands-on/hands-off, midwife-fear, unassisted birth. I am learning to talk less and listen more. It isn't easy.

I think this is symbolic of something important in birth- that I can be a midwife who doesn't have to show my client that I know everything, but that I can foster trust with my confident silence. I don't have to have affirmation from other midwives/birthworkers and I probably should surrender to the idea that when I am my fullness, my own authenticity, there are plenty of people who don't like me, and don't like what I have to say. I may have to meet that in a whole new way.

I almost don't want the distraction of worrying about where I'll go to school, whether I'll license, if I'll take VBAC or twins or whatever. That all seems so peripheral to just getting *going*. It seems secondary, at least right now. I sense that there will be vast, vast explorations of my values as a midwife, as a woman - I won't (and don't) have the answers anytime soon.

I keep thinking I have something figured out and then I hear something new and I shift. I guess that will always be true, but it feels like a very dynamic and shifting time right now.