the midwife bond
“The midwife wonder’d; and the women cried”
King Henry VI, Part 3 by Shakespeare, William
“Midwifery should be taught in the same course with fencing and boxing, riding and rowing.”
Moby Dick LXVIII-CXXXIV by Melville, Herman
It’s creeping up on river’s birthday, and this time of year will now always remind of so many different things. I keep coming back to my midwife, and the wonderments of people as to why women love their midwives so much, with such intensity and loyalty. It comes down to trust and openness. I often see bumperstickers throughout town that read “I Heart my Midwife” and I usually speed up to get a look at the woman who resembles me. She is a stranger, yet I know her.
We search for our midwives in times of need. We come to their doorstep, glowing and nauseated. Our hands nervously grip questions jotted on crumpled paper. We come to them in times of need, when we are full of concerns, love, and life.
They embrace us and we forge a relationship, somewhat distant at first. Strangers meeting over private issues. Soon it becomes an hour visit of laughter with weights and measurements on the quilted futon in the home office. Once a month we drive to town with a smile to meet her, a wanted sister. A medicine woman.
Over the months the relationship blooms over chai recipes, books, and music. We give her our trust. We package it up nicely for her. She is the keeper of the truth. As ugly as it seems to us, she is unflinching as we let it go into her possession. It is too heavy for us to carry along with the weight of this unborn child.
Monthly visits turn weekly with swollen ankles, heartburn, and anxiety over the unknown. We must be open to birth a baby. We know this. She is comforting and constant.
She is the early morning conversation. The nervous laughter that bubbles with each contraction as I watch the sky turn from pink to blue as the sun rises over the Colorado River. Yoga is her church and she needs it today, as much as I need to bake cupcakes while labor continues and contractions lean me real hard into the kitchen counter. Oven mitts are misplaced as she keeps me on the phone chatting.
I know what she is doing. She is tuning in. Turning on. She is timing. She is absorbing my breath over the phone line. The tone of my voice, the quick intake of crisp winter air as another contraction climbs up on me. She is smart.
The sun sets and she drives fast. She arrives with glowing eyes and a face full of smiles. She disperses her energy, so mellow, like scattering rose petals down the aisle before the sacred ceremony. The passing through the portal. The rite of passage that is a first birth.
The coyotes call outside the house while I’m in the birth tub. When I’m limp and loose and half out of my mind. She sings to me when I’ve gone monkey. When I can do it no more, when the tears crash heavy on my cheeks, when twenty hours of back labor has become all consuming. When the image of a posterior baby becomes something bigger than life or death or pain. She calls me back. She focuses my gaze onto her. She gives me acceptance to be scared. She reminds me of Ina May Gaskin. “Your body was born to do this.” But most of all she gives me strength to walk through that ring of fire. She gives me freedom.
We love our midwives because they are the first to touch our true love.
We love our midwives because they give us life, and life again. They save us from ourselves. We love our midwives because they keep our true loves from growing up motherless children. We love our midwives because of their laughter when they proudly exclaim “Holy crap!” As the scale tips to nearly ten pounds.
We love our midwives because they leave us tucked in a warm house. They drive home and later admit to rolling like children on the carpeted floor, letting tears streak their own cheeks with the release of energy and emotion.
They sleep. They dream. And they begin again.
Another day, another birth story.
This is why we love our midwives.