This month marks the fifth anniversary of midwives becoming legal in Missouri. I think of it as the “gavel heard ’round the state” because so many of us remember where we were and what we were doing when we got the news.
I was pregnant with my third child, planning my second home birth and trying to keep it under wraps…which is quite a task for someone who talks as much as I do. We gave the midwife a fake name, telling the kids that IF they *had* to speak about her (but we encouraged them not to), they were to use it. I filled in my prenatal charts myself, so I could have them in case of emergency but not implicate her. (The above paragraph is, of course, NOT an admittance of any illegal activity by anyone.)
Fast forward to 2010, when midwives had been legal for two years and I was planning my third home birth. I wrote checks to the midwife, in her name, putting “midwife” in the memo line. I could tell people what we were planning, talk about the excellent care and speak her name aloud without worry. We had all my charts/records ready to go, in her handwriting, along with our emergency plan. Months after the birth, I even received reimbursement from my insurance company!!
I had hoped and planned to write a lovely, factual press release in honor of this anniversary but I just can’t do it. I can’t stick to only the facts about midwives and home birth because it’s so much more than that for me. How can I possibly articulate what midwifery means to me?
There is something so genuine, so deep, so…right about women serving women. Midwifery and midwives are intricately woven into the fabric of my life.
Instead, thinking about the midwives I know and love dearly, the midwives who have held my hands during births, the midwives who have encouraged me on this path, the midwives who honor the mothers they serve by doing it faithfully at 3am, in the snow, on their anniversaries and birthdays, the midwives who served mothers even under scary laws…it moves me to tears. It is truly a noble calling and I’ve been fortunate to know amazing, devoted women who serve the women that come to them with love and grace.
I know I still have lots and lots to learn, but I feel like I’m starting to grasp the enormity of being called to serve women. It is no minor deal. It involves great sacrifice, for both the midwife and her family. It is not glamorous, as some of us so innocently think in the beginning. Even in states with “good” laws, a bad outcome is likely to result in a media frenzy and the type of scrutiny that almost no one can rise from unscathed. This is a reality and something that each woman who feels called to midwifery has to deal with. The list goes on and on…so much so that there are times I wonder who, in their right mind, would choose such a job?? And, therein lies the answer…at least for me. I didn’t choose midwifery, it chose me. I feel a calling from women, some I know, some I don’t. I feel a pull to learn more, study more, listen to the women, listen to the babies…it’s something that simply can’t be stopped and it is really difficult to explain.
In any case, no matter what the laws or society or anyone says, there will always be women who serve women during their pregnancies and births. As long as women having been giving birth, their have been midwives. Always.
In honor of these brave, smart and dedicated women, please enjoy this video.