Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly an epiphany in the literal sense of the word…although I guess that could apply. It was more like a moment, a feeling, a sense.
Tonight, I had the pleasure of viewing a new documentary about Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives called “Birth Story“. If you’re not currently having babies or “into” birth, then this film is probably of little interest to you and hasn’t come across your radar. For birthy folks, though, Ina May is famous and many I know aspire to either train with her or, at the very least, visit the Farm in TN to soak up all the rich midwifery herstory from the last thirty years. I still remember how I felt reading her groundbreaking book, “Spiritual Midwifery”, almost fifteen years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. I longed for that connection, that feeling of being truly with woman. (Although my beloved aunt filled that role as much as possible in a hospital environment)
Having the first two births I saw be two beautiful midwife-attended HBACs set the stage for a deep love of home birth midwifery. Watching my own mama bring my brothers into being was transformative, spark-igniting and also gave me some of the very few poignant, powerful memories I have of her. Something amazing happened during those births and it took me several years to understand that, but I finally did and haven’t looked back since.
The film was a great watch. It was interspersed with both new and vintage footage, which I found fascinating. One of the midwives said that she watched a birth and couldn’t help but keep doing it (attending women). She said she fell in love with women, how could you not? And I heard that. I got it.
I can’t go back. I can’t do anything else. This is what I have to do. I want to love women and encourage them and hug them and hold their hair off their neck and bring them cool cloths. I want to hold the space. I want to just be there, listen and love.
The last part of the film showed us a labor and birth. Not only was it a great way to end the film, but it perfectly highlighted one of the most important aspects of a midwife…being with woman without doing much else.
As I sat with women from my community (many of whom are my dear friends and a few who are former clients) watching the last few scenes, a hand reached out for mine. And in that moment, squeezing her back, I knew that this…this loving touch, this I am here for you and you matter to me…this is what it’s all about.