Labor Day. Labor...day. I was in labor once. What a crazy day that was.
Before my first pregnancy the word "midwife" was not in my vocabulary. Today, it is a word I try to spread!
What is a midwife? A midwife is a professional provider who cares for women during pregnancy and birth. The midwifery approach to pregnancy and birth is focused on a supportive relationship model of care. In this model pregnancy is not viewed as an illness itself, but rather a journey that women were biologically designed to take. Midwives are responsible for the wellness of both mother and baby, and is able to apply current medical advances to the client's individual situation.
Why did I choose a midwife?
I have a fear of anything medical, especially doctors and hospitals. Blah. So, when I found out I was pregnant with my son I wanted to avoid the hospital because I knew it would be so stressful for me to be in that environment. I decided to use midwives and have an out of hospital birth. What started off as a decision based out of fear became a path that left me feeling so empowered and inspired about giving birth. The decision also empowered me during my miscarriage!
The midwifery model of care emphasizes the relationship between provider and mother and that relationship is a huge part of what has given me strength during my journey. My very first prenatal appointment at my midwife's office I talked through tears of anxiety for most of the 90 minutes. She asked questions to get to know me better and specifically what made me fearful and how she could help me with my anxiety relative to pregnancy and prenatal appointments. This appointment included the first blood draw I had ever had and subsequently, the first (and only) time I passed out. Nothing about that appointment was fun, but I felt that it was the right place for me to be.
My anxiety faded over time. Every four weeks I would see one of the two midwives in the practice. We obviously talked about the pregnancy during our time but also about life in general. My midwives came to know that I am a CrossFit coach, I have a dog, most of my family lives on the East Coast, that I love to cook...they got to know about me. And vice versa, I got to know a little about their lives as well. I started to look forward to going in to meet with them! I always felt heard and never felt rushed. Most importantly I felt cared for.
I was fortunate to have both midwives in the practice be at the birth of my son. Elise met us as the birth center and Cindie was not far behind. They were attending to me and no one else. They were constantly in the room, not just coming and going to check on me. I had (literally) dreamed of the way I wanted to birth my son and it happened with my midwives' support and encouragement.
I distinctly remember a moment when I wanted to give up and go to a hospital and not feel any pain anymore, I reached over and grabbed Cindie's hand which was on the edge of the tub. It was a moment that I will never forget. That connection helped give me strength I didn't think was in me. My midwife was holding my hand, assuring me I was doing it. I was about to have my baby. And she was right. Elise caught my baby boy soon after that moment.
I can't help but feel compassion for those women who don't receive the level of support and care that they deserve during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or miscarriage. I feel so fortunate to have had a relationship with my midwife before my loss. A relationship that transcends the birth of my son. A relationship that is built on compassion, trust, and caring for me as an individual. She was part of my support system during my miscarriage by answering questions, checking in on me consistently, and showing care for my wellbeing during a fragile time.
Not everyone needs to choose a midwife but, again, everyone should know they have a choice in providers. You deserve to feel supported. You have an opportunity to have a relationship with a provider and feel truly cared for during pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and loss.
To my midwives Cindie and Elise: I cannot ever stop expressing my gratitude for you. You have changed how I view the world. I am a better woman, mother, and wife because of the wonderful experience you continue to provide me through my journey. The love you showed me during the birth of my son and my recent loss is something that I will always carry with me. You are women filled with care, compassion, strength, and knowledge. I have no doubt that you have changed so many people's lives with your care. You are a gift to this world! I love you!