If you follow along on this blog, you know that Missouri is facing a bill that would put Midwives out of commission and leave families out in the cold. If you don’t follow along, you can read the bill or see my previous post for more details. February 9, Friends of Missouri Midwives held their annual Cookie Day along with a “Rally for Freedom” to show support for legal Midwifery in Missouri. Many, many families turned out despite the precarious weather. All in all, it was a good day. Debra Pascali-Bonaro gave a rousing speech on behalf of motherbaby, and cheered us on in our fight to protect our Midwives. Last week, a committee heard (but didn’t vote) on this bad bill. I’ve been thinking a lot about Midwives and families and specifically how much the Midwives who’ve touched my family have affected me.
I’ve had three different Midwives now and each one has brought something new to my family. They’ve each left their mark, so to speak. Teaching me, guiding me, allowing me to find new pieces of myself I didn’t always know were there. They each hold a special place in my heart.
I remember, in 2000, picking up my newly received Pensacola, Florida phone book a few weeks after moving there to look up “Midwife”. My fingers trembled with excitement as I leafed through the pages, wondering if there really was such a thing! I couldn’t imagine, having grown up in a state where Midwifery was a felony, advertising AT ALL as a Midwife, let alone having an ad in the phone book. Sure enough, there was one. I called her up and spent about ten minutes gushing about how I was from Missouri, where Midwifery was illegal, and how cool it was that I could just pick up the phone book and call her. She politely listened and if she thought I was nuts, I never knew. 🙂 About a month later, I was overjoyed to call her back and request her services. Seeing her was quite the difference from the OB “care” I received with my daughter. Every test, every procedure was painstakingly outlined with the option for me to consent or refuse. I was given her home number, cell number and pager number. She was completely accessible to me, when I needed her. So much healing took place over the next several months, culminating with a beautiful birth in my own home. For many years afterwards, I received a holiday card from her and we still occasionally email (although we’re both so busy now, it’s hard to keep in touch).
Fast forward eight years to my next pregnancy. I was back in Missouri and although midwifery was still illegal. A family friend, the Midwife who assisted with my brothers’ births, graciously agreed to attend me. I did not take this relationship lightly and closely guarded her identity to protect her. We even gave her a fake name that we used whenever discussing her, including around our children so they could not accidentally let slip who she was. Asking someone to break the law for you really pushes your relationship to a whole new level! While I can not ever truly understand the potential sacrifice she made on my behalf, I am forever grateful that she did.
This time around, I was able to ask a legal Midwife to legally attend me. It is quite a feeling to be able to write a check with her name on it and put “midwife fee” in the memo! Another bonus of having a legal Midwife is the attempt at billing insurance. We don’t know yet if it’s going to work, but we’re giving it a try. This Midwife, too, was a friend before she became “mine”. We met a few years ago when I started getting involved in the political battle to decriminalize midwifery here. She was one of a handful of people who basically lived at the Capitol (while still having families and jobs) for several years until midwifery was finally legalized in 2007. During that time, I saw a quiet determination and a force that really should not be reckoned with! She also started teaching a class for people like me, who are interested in midwifery but can’t work on it full-time yet. This year, she and another Midwife launched a school, of sorts, for people who are ready to take the next step…apprenticeship, etc. She works hard to ensure that midwifery in Missouri will continue on. As “my” Midwife, she has helped me through the emotional issues of pregnancy after loss (we had a miscarriage last March) and helps me learn for myself. Her compassion is extensive, as is her professionalism. I can’t yet attest to the birth part of it, as we’re not there yet, but I’ve met her other clients and seen pictures from other births. I’m looking forward to having her here with our family as we welcome our new little one.
I LOVE Midwives! 🙂