Homage:Part Two

I’ll be doing a lot of birthy posts coming up… knowing that’s why most people would read my blog, but I wanted to send these thoughts out into the ether for now.. while they’re fresh.  This is a part of life now, and life isn’t only my wonderful work.

to the Eileen I knew, the one who lives on in my heart,

There are so many things I think of daily that I wish I could text to you or call to say really quickly.  Sometimes we averaged over ten short calls a day, usually making contact at almost the same time!  I loved the jokes too, “get outta my head, girl!” 🙂  I can hear your voicemail greeting so clearly still… I play it in my mind every day in hopes I’ll never forget the sounds, words, pitch. How I love the beginning… ever the cross-breed of jersey girl and southerner, “Hey, y’all… this is Eileen.”  More than any grand dream I have or feelings of unfairness, I just wish we could catch up.  Share news.  Hear your LOUD and sometimes crass words.  I want to laugh together.  At the very least, in the absence of these dreams, there are things I wish you could know, wish you could hear the words and process them with me on my back porch… things you’d have wanted to know in these recent days… and I share now them simply because I still want you to be here.

Your children are growing so beautifully and look full of love and confidence.  You gave them a phenomenal foundation, and that can never be erased.  Never, ever my dear.  You did so good!! Deep in their hearts, like we talked about in our conversations on the Continuum Concept and Odent’s primal period, they knew from conception until your passing that they were perfectly secure and loved by their amazingly devoted mom.  No matter where their lives take them, this imprint you gave them will make them confident little souls who know what feeling right and loved is.  So they will always search for that swing back to rightness; to security and love.  You did that!  I look at pictures of them all the time and can’t wait for the next hug I get from them both.  Before they left for their temporary stay with their awesome Aunt Kim and Uncle Wade, your mother in law was so amazingly kind to me and thought to give me the chance to put marley to sleep.  I gave him a bottle (the first ever, and I laughed at how you would have rolled your eyes at how confounded I was with the drop-in contraption at first), and your sweet little man petted my hair as he dozed off in my arms.  I know we talked to each other with our eyes; I practice this with babies a lot anyway, but he’s a special little egg.  He is a sensitive and beautiful boy.  I feel like he comforted me that night… saying, “I’m ok, Aunt Carey.” When I let a few tears slide down my cheeks he pulled away from his bottle and touched my face.  He never took his eyes away except when his precious little body grew heavy with sleep and his eyelids couldn’t stay open any longer.  Autumn was a spunky bug that night and speaks in these amazing sentences with excellent articulation.  I hope she’s at least half the talker you were.  I loved that about you. She  stopped being persnickety about saying my name and freely screamed, “Aunt Carey! Aunt Carey! Aunt Carey!” when I pleaded to hear it just once more. I reminded her she’d made me wait so long to hear it that I had some saved up! She was the center of love and attention and reveling in all her new skills and visitors.

I would want you to know that whenever I’m feeling insecure I hear you say, “Just fake it til you make it, baby! You know you’ve got this!” and it makes me smile with confidence.

I wish I could show you the fun thrift store finds of late and have shared that we finally have a Starbucks in Anderson!

I can imagine that you would have been ALL about the local girls going derby and would have shown everyone the athlete you are– including a rad derby name and a fishnet hose ensemble that would’ve knocked everyone’s socks off.

My girls ask about you and your niece often, wondering when their babysitting gig will finally start! 😉

I’ve been carrying around a Demeter brand spray in lilac; I remember those candle sets we used to buy when we were kids living at Rhonda Rd and how lilac reminded you of your driveway from your youth.  I can’t bring myself to wear it — it smells just awful on me!– but I smell it a few times a day since you can’t.

My girls miss you a lot and take turns wearing the flip flops you left here.

Rachel and I had a funny conversation about your purse the other day… what a disorganized version of yours mine looks like.  We both always wanted preparation for any need– multiple chapstick flavors, makeup, sunscreen, vitamins, eye drops, smelly oils, things to entertain the kids, snacks… except yours had some magical girl scout esque packing job that I never mastered.  Rachel and I both chuckled that you knew the exact location and content of each purse, but that we held secret fears that if we touched it it could possibly just pop from the sheer volume.

I miss worshiping the sun with you this summer.  I know you’d have pushed me out the door every few days, insistent I needed my vitamin D! In fact, I’ve mostly avoided the pool because it just isn’t the same without you.

There are so many friend secrets and tidbits you’d only understand that now sit quietly in my heart.  Those words and sharings were for us.  No one will ever take that place.  But, wow, you’d be ready for a looooong chat at all the crazy happenings in the past months.  So that I wouldn’t break privacy, we invented code names for clients so you could help me walk through my late night thoughts out loud (since I wouldn’t say I’ve known any others with such a gift for external processing!). Wow, how I miss this! You loved them with me, waited alongside in spirit, and was always a first text sent after birth to say both mother and babe are well!

Everyone who knew you is still grieving… and I am glad your story made it all the way across the pond.  You deserved to be known for your life.

Ryan is battling hard; I pray and believe he will make it through to be an old daddy for your babies.

I know there will be other times I want to catch up with you in my psyche… to keep the love alive forever as it should.  For now, I know you are at peace, and that part makes me happy.  The whole rest of it is tough, but I will count the blessings I do have, and that your babies, ryan, and family do have instead of what we are missing: you.

love,

c.

Current Happenings

readingDMT: The Spirit Molecule (this is the second time through), Embryology: blah blah textbook words

listening to: a mix from itunes called Peacock Dresses with tunes from Jonsi, Broken Social Scene, Bon Iver, Elliot Smith, Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, Great Lake Swimmers, and others Sean has been trying to force me to like: St. Vincent, Andrew Bird

watching: Dexter *this has never been a category of interest to me as movies seldom hold my attention, and there are few television shows I’ve enjoyed in adulthood.*

wearing: colorful dresses with an odd assortment of (ever so slightly) compulsively chosen accessories… the most important of which is the mr f bracelet , as worn by one with her own curious fashion choices.  If this joke is mysterious to you, please go watch every episode of Arrested Development.  The only other television show that hasn’t disappointed me besides classics.

wishing for: pictures with every couple I’ve ever served; a scrapbook or journal… leading me to the idea that I would love  need to write a book about my adventures in mamababy care.

 

the *with* in with woman and how the postpartum ties it all together

My own theory of how the spirit of being a midwife came into me,  or maybe passed through my genes, is through my mother.  Oh, such a tricky relationship during certain years, but half the foundation of me that I am thankful for each day. I watched my own mother care for the sick– emotionally and physically– my entire life.  She was a teacher with a full time job she cared deeply about for most of my childhood years.  Nevertheless, she found a way to sacrifice whenever the call went out– that there was a need.  Whether that need was physical, emotional/psychological, or even financial… she made the way to help.  To serve.  She went sleepless, ate and made bizarre foods, was at times away from us when I’m sure she would have rather been with her immediate family, and she traveled far, took care of those physical needs for others they normally can handle themselves, and handled the coordination of round the clock care for those in need or in the passing stages between here and their loss of life.

She did this all without a moment of complaint or mention of her own needs and stresses.  She taught me to never, ever, ever leave anyone alone who is in need– even if it means a schedule of rotating loving caregivers; this was my first understanding of the job of a doula, without that word in my vocabulary for many years to come.  The never-alone rule especially applied in a hospital (though she is quite trusting of western “cures” and treatments).  When I grew in age, I became one of the women on this list of humble servants to bring food, to clean surgical wounds, arrange travel to appointments, run shifts of cot sleeping in the hospital, to hear doctor’s statements and ask questions if needed, and most importantly– though unstated– to monitor the spirit (keeping it light or being the punching bag) in addition to body of the one you are caring for.  The women in my family rarely assumed medical roles– we were servants and witnesses to the experience.  It was only important to be there.  Warmth and seriousness weren’t required.  Presence was the primary job and then the humble tending to physical needs.  I thank my mother for this example, for service and sacrifice are not things you can teach– they are traits you must exhibit yourself and hope they’ll be picked up by those watching.

My mother has also facilitated my journey to midwife by emphasizing the importance of natural birth since I was young enough to remember.  My favorite story was always the tale of my own birth.  Before bed each night, after being tucked between Snuggles and Lucy and a mountain of covers, I would beg for the story of when I came on the scene.  My parents took Lamaze classes in 1979, bringing along my 13 year old brother Michael with them so that he would be prepared to attend the birth alongside them.  This was essential preparation for my mom whose first birth in 1966 was traumatic– by induction, ending in a forceps delivery with a major episiotomy.

The Sunday morning of December 16, my mother woke to her membranes (bag of waters) breaking without any contractions.  She said she felt no discomfort and wanted to continue on to the family’s Sunday meeting (church) and wait to see what happened.  My father was more conservative, suggesting a stop by the L&D unit of the hospital to check things out.  She was in transition when they arrived, and there was much scrambling and attempts at persuasion to allow my prepared brother into the delivery room.  The doctor slipped around the commands of the floor’s charge nurse and brought my brother up the doctor’s elevator. Mom’s only memory of discomfort is at crowning, when she says she exclaimed, “I think I changed my mind about this natural birth!”  She experienced no tearing or stitches and was able to hold me right away, and I went straight to my father and then brother as they worked to get mom freshened up and transferred to the postpartum area.  I never thought to ask until I became a midwife, but I was indeed taken to the nursery between nursings until we were discharged the next day.

My mother also shared with me how important breastfeeding is and was to her.  She experienced pain that was undiagnosed (I suspect thrush) but nursed despite it until weaning at nine months at her doctor’s advice due to mastitis.  In my early days as a nursing mother her encouragement was invaluable.  I had books, and I knew I could call La Leche League, but I wasn’t yet ready to let a stranger into my little cocoon.  She did not ever criticize my efforts or suggest supplementation; when I winced in pain at the bad latch we had in our early days, I remember her face twisting into such empathy that she appeared to feel the pain with me.  Sometimes she cried too, but she always repeated, “Just keep going.  It will get better; I promise it will get better.”  She didn’t have the tools to counsel me specifically, but her encouragement was enough to keep me going.

Perhaps because we disagreed on many aspects of the education and discipline of older children (this topic was common since her grade level when teaching was middle school), I assumed that we would take up arms when it came to all my great big, brand new, well researched baby raising ideas.  I was going to do it just so.  Low and behold, my mother shocked me by her philosophies and behaviors towards babies being almost identical to my own.  I had some updated research to share where she was relying on instinct and logic, but we both agreed: hold babies when they cry, nurse them whenever they need to, let them sleep wherever everyone gets the most rest, hold them as much as you want, make their lives magical– not yours more convenient.  We disagreed over little things like when to give water and just how and when to use a pacifier, but I got tremendous support as my mommy wings grew in; criticism is the last thing a new mother needs, and I was incredibly fortunate to not only have the absence of that but the opposite.  I heard, “You’re doing great! This is hard work, but you’re doing it!  You’re a great mommy!” She was my physical and emotional support the first few weeks after each birth  and months later even took time off of work on more than one occasion when I had mastitis and couldn’t care for anyone, even myself.

Mom gave me the model for taking care of a postpartum mother by the way she cared for me in the postpartum and the way I saw her care for others in our family during their “confinements” 🙂

*the job of the helper is to keep the mom’s focus on the baby and rest; not to play with the baby

*prepare nutritious foods and make sure the mom has that and hydrating fluids nearby her at all times

*try to clean and tidy the home according to the new mother’s normal preferences without being asked and without troubling the mom with details

*run errands if necessary

*keep the restaurant server’s mantra “full hands into the kitchen, full hands out of the kitchen”… meaning busy yourself quietly and minimize trips

*offer to hold the baby only when the mother wants to nap alone or shower, stretch, eat with two hands, etc.

*keep the mother company if she does desire someone to talk to; listen to her birth tale and admirings of her new baby beauty as many times as she wants to repeat them

*check criticism at the door … phrases to never utter include  “Are you sure you’re feeding the baby enough?”  “It’s ok to let the baby cry for a little while; s/he needs to get used to it.”

“Why don’t you let me watch the baby while you…”  “Are you sure that’s the right way to …”  and  “You look exhausted!”

Before I decided to study midwifery I began by helping my friends and family who had babies.  One of my most precious memories of this transitional time– from receiving help to giving– was with my niece.  My brother called and told me she was having problems and asked if I would try to help.  She is a shy one anyway, and I knew she would be reticent to outsiders observing her transition to nursing mom.  I stayed with her throughout most of that day, her first one home, helping to relieve her engorgement and adjusting the baby’s latch.  I shared a few books and websites with her, as well as as much encouraging information I could squeeze in without overwhelming her.  As an 18 year old, I knew her odds of nursing for long were small.  However, I knew she had seen me nurse my older daughter through toddlerhood and was familiar and comfortable with the idea.  This amazing mama is now the mother of three, all of whom were nursed until they were toddlers, and she also had the experience of tandem nursing.  She has served as an amazing example to other moms in her group, and defied all expectations with her intuitive and natural mothering despite her age.  As a side note, she is one of the few lucky ones who has managed two! VBACs at AnMed hospital.  I hope I contributed in some small way to her confidence in nursing during those early days, for I know she gave me the confidence to help other mothers directly.  It was the first hurdle I crossed with moms– touch.  It is sensitive to intervene into the new nursing couple with your hands, and the hands must be tender but sure.  Both mother and baby can tell if you are nervous or unsure.  Because she accepted my help without fear or tension, I was able to begin a tactile understanding of breastfeeding management for another couple.  I knew by then how to help myself, and all the theory, but not how to put my hands on others and show them how to correct their own discomforts and make the baby feel confident in nursing.  This experience was the turning point.

It ballooned into that mama (and my family and friends who knew my passion for nursing) sharing my name and information with strangers… who began calling with questions about their new babes and requests to come and help if I was willing to try.  I attended La Leche League meetings and learned more about how to help as a layperson.  I eventually began and finished the initial training required to be a leader but did not finish the final steps as I simultaneously began a babywearing group (as well as selling various carriers) with other mama friends.  Then, at the suggestion and encouragement of several of those ladies, decided to begin my midwifery studies.  The first assignment I had as an apprentice was to follow the breastfeeding couple (I tried to ensure the breast crawl was undisturbed) and to help in cases where difficulties arose.

During my apprenticeship, I not only helped the clients of my preceptors but also women who were the clients of other midwives, doulas, and doctors.  They came to me through various contacts, websites, and referrals.  I learned a great deal about the way breastfeeding issues spiral into much more complex concerns if they aren’t dealt with quickly.  They can become a web of interconnected problems that create a picture whose root may require much work to uncover and correct.  It is so much simpler to have the continued care of a midwife or doula after the birth and especially when milk “comes in”  than it is to hire someone for lactation after difficulties arise.  Often the web is strung together by other postpartum struggles like a lack of sufficient rest or hormonal changes.  Support, beyond the technical latch tricks or ways to relieve engorgement we can learn together, is the key that will keep the newly nursing mother going!

By six weeks almost all mamababys are settled into a routine, knowing one another and trusting each other, and the majority of early nursing questions and methods have been refined… if mama can just make it until then!!  No matter what the particular issue may be, if you are chosen to attend a mother in any capacity during the postpartum period (whether for moments or weeks) remember that if you can simply help the mother stay in a blissed out postpartum state (called “taking in” in Western Medicine) and encourage, encourage, encourage, her then you help to lay the groundwork for a wonderful breastfeeding relationship and genuinely happy postpartum memories.  That time doesn’t have to be wrought with constant cries and no sleep… it can be filled with cheerleader style love, encouragement, and the blissful feeling of falling in love.  It helps to prepare beforehand for helpers to rotate care and not leave the new mom alone until she is completely adjusted and happily nursing and resting; even then, continue checking on her emotional and household needs for several more weeks.  This is the ancient tradition of women throughout the world and facilitates faster healing and less feelings of depression and isolation.  I think it is also wise to have numbers on hand of lactation helpers– LLL leaders, private consultants or IBCLCs, or books and websites for reference.  Again, a midwife, labor and/or postpartum doula will also have the skills to help with the early days of the postpartum.

The postpartum is so important because it’s what everyone has been waiting for! The baby is here! All that buildup of practitioner choice, informed consent, birth plan research, nursery picks… it’s all ready for use at last! As much as I love pregnancy and birthing time, the postpartum is what we have been preparing for the most… the integration of a new life into the family.  It is of the utmost importance that this not be shuffled off as the social goodbye for a practitioner.  Continuity of care dictates we care, we are present, for those women adjusting to a new life dependent fully on them.

In closing, I thank my mom again, for without her postpartum support I would have had a discouraged and overwhelmed experience as a new mom and would have probably never learned the importance of caring for other moms in that space… which is what brought me to the path of midwife; with woman.

Processing birth

 

This lady.  She has prayed for me, listened, encouraged, believed, witnessed.  She midwifed my birth into a midwife.  Her processing of births with me has helped me gain wisdom and faith in how to be a caregiver and how to be comfortable with birth itself.  She once sent me a poem after a discussion on how a very strange and unexpected outcome rattled us; we’d discussed how birth isn’t one way or another (the only certainty being a baby will come out at the end)– ever! even in beautiful physiologic birth they are all so different… We spoke of births with loss of any kind attached and how they can be so tragic… from the unspeakable losses to the loss of dreams in transports confusing and affecting everyone deeply.  She said when she thought of birth embodied it was sometimes so lovely and amazing and joyous and at other times mysterious and unknown to us.  This humbling poem has remained with me– reminding me to not only be a servant to the family, but also to the birth itself… to what forces may need to unfold that I may never understand.  The best we can do is be there.  The processes of pregnancy aren’t always rosy and perfect, but all things can be “made pretty in its time.”

 

In Mind

There’s in my mind a woman
of innocence, unadorned but

fair-featured and smelling of
apples or grass. She wears

a utopian smock or shift, her hair
is light brown and smooth, and she

is kind and very clean without
ostentation-

but she has
no imagination

And there’s a
turbulent moon-ridden girl

or old woman, or both,
dressed in opals and rags, feathers

and torn taffeta,
who knows strange songs

but she is not kind.

Denise Levertov

					

Homage; Part 1

This blog must be big in scope– so perhaps a few posts separated by opportunities to remember and meditate on what to say,  thus please forgive errors in organization and its potential length and sentimentality.  It has to be able to share just a fraction of a great big personality that you may have had the opportunity to meet or that you were unfortunate enough to miss.  I want to document parts of my years with this sisterfriend of mine who is no longer with us; Eileen Cecilia Griesemer Petters.

This photo was taken on the day of the blessingway for her second and last baby, Marley.  She was cherished as she should have been that day;photo courtesy of Jenn Anderson her mother friends surrounded her with loving attention, her favorite foods, a long time friend, Rachel, read a beautiful prayer and blessing for her and the upcoming birth.  Her belly was painted with henna, her feet bathed in beautiful smells and flower petals.  Her jokes were heard and a blessing in and of themselves for the rest of us– she could be masterful at keeping up her spirits, which flew higher than most folks’, in trying times.  We didn’t know if the wee babe growing inside was a boy or girl or what the conditions would be for his birth.  We only knew Eileen adored being a mother.  And she was good at it.  Really, really good.

The tattoo of a “Sailor Jerry” girl on her left hip/side is one that she shared with me and four others.  We shared almost everything in and about our lives in those days (2001) when we got “her”(the sailor).  We lived as family when we left our biological families (including other “family” members that were more than roommates) at 18 and shared many houses, jobs, dreams, and naughty and/or silly adventures.  There was tremendous loyalty and understanding of one another.  I came up with the idea for us all (roommates and closest companions) to share the tattoo for the celebration of my 21st birthday.  In my mind, it was a beautiful scar to remind us of that time in our lives.  Where we were and what we had…. each other.  The tattoo is simply classical American style and not symbolic in this instance, but the ritual of doing it together, healing the wound together, and wearing it for the rest of our days was symbolic of the lasting power of our connections.  No matter how far away from that day we might ever travel I wanted us to remember that we were once tied tight in a family that could not be untied.

Through the years our connection was tight at times and loose at others.  She lived far away during some years and sometimes closeby.  Sometimes we fought like cats and couldn’t speak for periods.  But we always came back.  Always.  I have never had a sister, but I hope that if I did that the relationship would resemble the one shared with Eileen.  Finishing one another’s sentences doesn’t cover it– we finished and knew each other’s thoughts much of the time.  We could motion and make half words and the meaning be crystal clear to us.  She defended my honor more times than I can count, and had more pride in my work than almost anyone.  She was the first call I made when I got a new client.  Always.  She was the sort of friend who left the criticism in the back seat, or out all together.  There are enough people out there waiting to tell someone what they’re doing wrong.  Eileen minimized my flaws and reminded me of what I did right.  She scooped me off the floor (my heart and my body) many times and helped put me back together. I could rely on her to appear in a flash if I ever uttered the words, “I need you.”

I called her “Come Through in a Crisis Eileen.”   She was a gymnast in body and spirit, both as a youngster, teen, and adult instructor.  She was trusted with the physical safety and emotional buoyancy of her students– to keep them from being hurt, discouraged, or uninspired.  Among her many other skills, she could pull herself together and run full speed towards the vault with profound power and an absence of fear.  We used this mental image a lot when she struggled.  This trait carried over into her personal life much of the time, though in the past year her power was running lower.  Still, the enthusiasm she could muster was astounding.  She reminded me of a motivational speaker I listened to at a high school field trip function long ago who kept repeating, “I am SUPERCHARGED!!!! with ENTHUSIASM!!!!”

I try to keep that voice fresh in my memory; to laugh heartily when I hear it instead of bemoan that I cannot hear it aloud now.

Eileen died this April in a car wreck, leaving behind Autumn, Marley, and her husband Ryan– who is battling leukemia.  This family is in need of love, prayers, and support.  www.pettersfamily.com

I have a few funny stories I would like to share here, to preserve in history– maybe for her babies to glimpse someday and smile at the silly and wonderful mommy they had.  To tantalize: the origin of “stinky hands griesemer” , fine dining eileen, Jamaica on my face, panhandling in the atlanta airport for parking garage fees, and a gleeful list of gathered quotations.  Coming soon…

In the meantime, hug your friends tightly… bury hatchets quickly, appreciate the more plentiful and wonderful times with all your senses.  Remember those who are struggling and send your love or physical support to them.

hiding under the covers

I stopped blogging a long time ago.  It was a pretty calculated decision; did i really want my ideas,  pictures, and life out there for everyone to see and potentially critique?  I didn’t.  And I still hold reservation, but I have words that wish to tumble forth… things I’d like documented for my children, friends, and mamababy clients.  I don’t expect to be a tool of research or decision aiding, nor advice.  I would simply like to share.

I have been practicing without direct supervision as a midwife for about two years.  In that time I have been humbled by how little I, and from my observation most of us, truly know.  With each birth I learn something new and gain a fresh perspective or develop a larger appreciation and respect for birth.  The process works so well without much help from anyone.  One of the most transforming shifts through this time for me came after attending a coffee shop talk by Whapio Bartlett called, “Birth as an Altered State of Consciousness.”  I was familiar with her source material, namely DMT: The Spirit Molecule.  But she applied this information to attending births too.  It was the summation of a thousand observations– she had words and physiology that backed up my hypotheses and fluid philosophies about being a birth attendant.  When asked at an interview this week, “What is the role of the midwife in your experience? What do you view your job to be?” I found myself loosely quoting Whapio, finally able to summarize my utmost hopes for each birth I am honored to attend.

I told this inquisitive papa that we could compare birth to going on an amazing hike together.  It isn’t my job to lead the way, to direct my mama friend’s breathing as she walks, to call attention away from the beautiful scenery with my own chatty energy but rather to walk alongside with her– marveling at the powers of nature and the lovely variation we encounter along the way.  I am there if she loses her way, needs help up a steep incline, or has a physical need she cannot attend to alone.  I’ve walked similar paths and can be a helper.  But it is not my trip; I have witnessed without question that the mamababy knows her way.

I don’t possess adequate words to express the confidence I have found in mothers and their babes through pregnancy and the primal period.  Certainly it can be undermined, but from what I have seen, when trusted… really trusted… women will always accomplish what is best for that birth, that moment.  The more they are doubted, the more their intuition becomes muddled and mixed with fear.  The births I have witnessed have not been perfect– all fearless and pure and without intervention 100% of the time.  However, they have all been so  powerful that I bow before each of these women over these past years who has trusted me to watch her ‘most sacred dance.’  They have all held grace and strength beyond what most people ever have a chance to see.  I thank you, mamas, for trusting me in your space.

some moments that stand out the most to me, that fill me with love and humility to recall…

the cool whispers of “peace… peace…” during the apex of birthing waves

the cradling of my head on a mamas chest as she hugged the pressure into me during her contractions

watching a young new father hold his wife’s head on his palm as she slept through the resting breaks of transition

a babe with a wrapping paper ribbon round his cord from his rocket entry into the dads hands before anyone arrived

crying with mamas over a birth never expected; those who were healed and those who were hurt by these variations

watching babes glide into the water and be scooped up by their loving mothers or fathers

having my hands squeezed with tremendous force while hearing a labor song chanted in my ears

a darling babe who waited to breathe until I helped her, followed by the sweetest cry I’ve yet heard

blossoming bellies rolling in hula circles

touching the slight crinkle in a mamas forehead, while the rest of her body lay limp like a noodle through the heaviest of waves

hilarious and joyous words shouted at the moment of babes first sounds, cries

little eyes, looking at me curiously in the first days postpartum– asking, “are you who squeezed me inside?”

There are so many more moments that are held sacred to me now than I could begin to share here.  Each one is its own story, the path and its pace different and the scenery unique.  Thank you to every  family that has shared a journey with me.  Whether you’ve trusted me to give you information, to help your babe to nurse more easily, or to watch over your family’s birthing time with love and awe, I am grateful.  I have learned more than I imagined possible and learn with each dyad how much more I must discover.

I have been nervous many, many times… what is expected of me this time? Would I meet the family’s needs?  I have struggled with feeling unworthy of my position or concerned I will inhibit and not aid in the most normal process of birthing.  After all, I am so imperfect. I hope this serves to keep my ego in check, though; for my confidence in birth itself only grows with each woman served.   However, I do believe in my ability to help when needed but grow happier with each birth to notice how relatively minor of a character I am in the story.