I’m sitting in the MRI office as my partner gets her knee MRI’d. It has been a busy couple of days!
Yesterday, unbidden, I had a woman call saying she’d been referred by another client and she wanted to talk. She came to chat with me in the classroom as her 2 year old daughter played with the toys. This mama had her first child UC and it was a glorious experience! She’d had prenatal care at a birth center, but didn’t speak about her UC desires to the CNMs. Once her baby was born, her placenta didn’t birth and, after 2 hours, she got into the car and went to the birth center, walked in, delivered the placenta (that had actually detached, but was sitting in the vaginal vault), signed a couple of papers and went back home.
Confused, I asked why she was talking to a midwife. She said she wasn’t sure, but they were considering birthing further into the woods this time and if she needed help, she’d rather it be a midwife and closer as opposed to further. She said her husband was absolutely desirous of UC (and UP), but she wanted to explore her options.
We momentarily discussed my on-going dilemma (and UCers/mommas/humans) between Fear and Intuition.
My client who referred her had told her that I might be a midwife she could communicate with. The woman who visited said she thought all midwives were the same and I smiled as she said she realized that wasn’t so. She said she never knew there were midwives like me… encouraging her autonomy, encouraging her listening to her own schedule for visits (if she chooses any at all), encouraging her to call – or not call – when birth is imminent.
I looked at her sideways and asked again, “So, why are you talking to a midwife again?” And she laughed and talked about “what if’s.”
What if the placenta doesn’t come out? I told her I was more than glad to share with her how to tell if the placenta has detached or not… including bleeding, etc.
She said she wanted me to see where the placenta was in case she had a previa… she’d been scared the first time when they diagnosed a previa in the first trimester, but, as is typical, it migrated north during the pregnancy and it wasn’t an issue.
I explained that previas almost always bleed before anything else happens… sometimes during the pregnancy after sex, sometimes as labor gets closer… as the cervix does its thing. I told her I didn’t feel there was any concern at all about learning if there was a previa or not… that I was glad to listen around for where things were, but if she didn’t want to, I didn’t think there was a worry. She liked that!
When she spoke on the phone to me and then a couple of times while together, about my “teaching” her husband what to do. She’d been given my booklet (and liked what she had read so far) and heard about the hand's off birth I'd done (I then gave her the Compleat Mother with that article in it), so she knew that I was forthcoming with technical questions. About the third time she said, “Can you teach my husband how to do that?” I had to stop her.
I explained that it sounded like she wanted me to teach her husband to be a midwife. I told her I was uncomfortable with that description – “teaching” – as if there were grades and such. What I did say, however, was that it didn’t matter if she was a regular run-of-the-mill client that wanted everything in a textbook fashion or a woman wanting a hands-off birth, I shared the information… how to palpate your own uterus (or that of your partner), how to listen where the umbilical cord is vs. the heartbeat, how to check your own cervix if that is what you want to learn, etc. She nodded, understanding. I told her it would sound horrid out of context that I was teaching husbands to midwife their wives through UCs. (Not that those that know what I share and disseminate aren’t cranky already!) And, it isn’t accurate. But, that if I treated each woman with the respect she deserves… gave each woman the amount of information she desires… even if it means going to someone else to find that information for her/with her… that that would be a cool thing for folks to know. And, most especially, women to know!
We talked about insurance and how to bill if she did choose to come to me. We could do per visit if she just wanted to come once or twice or, if she felt she might want me at the birth and/or right after, we can bill regularly (globally). I told her how we do it... checking on her deductible, blah blah blah and that we could work all that out if/when she wanted to.
We spoke about her daughter and she asked if I’d be comfortable doula-ing her at the birth. I had to stop and think and said I thought it would be tough only because even when I am in a place of love and peace at a birth, as a midwife, I am observing deeply. BE-ing in the moment with the woman, however she needed me. And while she might need me to tend to her child instead of her, if something came up and there was an issue she asked me to be there for, I would want someone there specifically for the child. She said she understood and appreciated my honesty. We thought of other good people (not family) and she’ll consider them – or no one. I also let her know we always work in two’s… and she seemed to know that already. As she talked about if she needed me then her husband could take the child and as the words came out of her mouth, that sounded wrong and she began to see the usefulness of someone there specifically for the child. I did encourage her to not worry if she chose no one… that plenty of folks have babies without a doula for the child.
One facet of this I find fascinating is that both the woman whose baby died and this woman with a beautiful UC are not on-line. Neither knows others who have UC’d, but each came to the decision to birth in peace without medical or midwifery assistants/assistance. While the first woman had been birthraped, this woman said that she just kept reading and reading more and more and thought how wonderful it would be to just be she and her husband. And it was.
So, I believe that, even if I never see either of these women again, that God/Universe gave me two polar opposites of UC women, one right after another, so I would be reminded in the perfection of birth. I am still digesting how incredible it is that two days in a row, UC women have been in my offices – one weeping about her lost son – and the other playing with her beautiful, perfect daughter.
Open, open, open… I am remaining open.