I was reminded yesterday, twice (once by the apprentice telling me when she had her baby and I was her midwife and the other by the mom I did the one day visit on) that I had a gift for not taking women's power.
In labor, often, women will hold their power out on a platter to the midwife and ask her to take it... lavish themselves in it... soak it in. It is my responsibility to not take it... to remind the woman that the platter-full is hers and for HER to take it, lavish herself in it... soak in it.
Women are trained to do two major actions in life (this as a reminder from my apprentice, a wise-woman indeed):
Submit and Help
Women in labor often submit. Women who assist in labor often "help."
I believe that one of the best things I can offer clients is the ability to not take their power when they offer it to me. A distinct sign of maturity and patience and belief in the woman herself - not all midwives have this.
Women ask for help and the midwife rescues her. A scene I have seen far too many times.
My apprentice asked for help near the end of her birth and I merely reminded her of her strength... to touch the baby... that she could do it herself. She said her other midwife heard those same words (4 births worth) and pushed the dad out of the way (dad wanted to catch each time) and put her fingers all up in her vagina. She said when she asked me for help, I could have done the same thing, but didn't. She was so thankful I didn't.
What's interesting is it is natural for me to not take it. When women say to me, "I couldn't have done it without you!" I always turn it back to them and tell them they absolutely could have. They birthed their baby, not I. If they insist, I offer, "You wouldn't have had the atmosphere we had that allowed you to birth your baby," and they nod and nod and like that answer a lot. I try so hard not to take the glory; it is the mom's to retain.
The other birth, a homebirth I need to write about today if possible, I offered the other midwife's apprentice to catch. She was so excited and did a nice job of it (she had to lift the membranes off the baby's face and did it properly, chin to forehead). The assistant midwife was a huge help to mom when she felt like she was going to crawl out of her skin. My apprentice was an enormous help when the youngest sibling was scared and needed comforting. I watched over the delivering apprentice's shoulder (we were all lying on the bed, mom in hands and knees) and was really so ancillary to it all. And that's okay! When mom was telling us the story yesterday, I basked in the joy she had at each midwife's role - and only because of our conversation about power did I consider what other midwives would and could do. I know many who would turn the story around, saying, "I told her to," or "well, I blah blah blah." Instead, it was okay that I was a small part of the story. It brings me joy that the family was the focus and highlight. I did my job correctly.
Each of the siblings wrote their version of the birth story (the homebirth) and they have given me permission to share them. I will pick them up tomorrow at the 3-day home visit and type them into here to share with you all. They gave me permission to use names and ages, too. Mom said I could as well. She also gave permission to share her pictures. I'll try to do that soon. (Hers is the caul picture on the other blog.)
I went to a picnic yesterday and talked to a woman who is 38 weeks pregnant. She now wants a homebirth, thinking insurance wouldn't cover it. It does! So, she's coming tonight for her first prenatal and we're going to have a baby together. Yay!