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Why I Write (revisited)

I write birth stories and share my thoughts as a midwife and woman for several reasons. Here, I list what comes to mind without much pondering:

- To demystify midwifery - So much of midwifery seems to be a magical or exalted profession when it really isn't. It is important to me to bring midwifery down to earth and remind those that read that they have the capacity to know the information I do. Birth remains a miraculous supreme experience, but midwifery is a this-world experience and I aim to demonstrate the mundane and here-and-now aspects of the art.

- To share my skills - I acknowledge that each of us exels in different areas as far as skills or education and mine happens to be in midwifery, but each of us has some capacity for learning what I know. I want to share what I know for those that can learn and utilize the information. I don't mean this arrogantly; I peruse other midwifery and birth sites aiming to augment my own knowledge and skill level. I learn a lot from others and want to do the same to those reading what I write.

- To make me think - I do write some pretty controversial stuff sometimes, but it makes me think. Heck, why else would I consider myself the "navelgazing midwife" if I wasn't on some introspective inner journey?

- To make others think - Because of the nature of the controversial stuff I write, others, too, consider a different perspective on topics they might not otherwise know of or think about. I try to write on a large variety of topics including my own mental illness, chronic illness, experiences in life as a midwife, mother and friend. It is putting myself out there for criticism... and I am, believe me... but to me, it is worth it. I want, NEED, for others to considere (and re-consider) their opinions about the plethora of options and beliefs out there.

- To share birth stories - I learned last year how to write about clients in my blog. I ask permission. I let the women know there will be comments. I offer my blog address. Some accept, others do not because they don't care one way or the other. Sometimes moms will ask how the story went over, most of the time, they never bring it up unless I do. I always tell them when it is up and that people are commenting. Sometimes they ask what people say, most of the time, they don't. Birth stories are a way for women to see how others experience their births... here, usually through my eyes, but I have been known to put the mom's own birth story up when asked. I am honored when they do. I think we all know the birth stories here are some of the most devoured aspects of what I write. Looking at the pages "hit," I can tell you, by FAR, the birth stories are the most desired topic I could ever consider writing about. I get more comments on birth stories, more requests for birth stories and my birth story blog is hit sometimes more than this blog because women hunger for them during their pregnancies and afterwards. More encompassing than a childbirth class, birth stories in blogs teach so much... options, ideas, concerns, thoughts and a cementing of one's beliefs about birth and parenting.

- Because I have to write - It is in my blood. It is who I am. My partner said to me two days ago... "If you were forced to choose between midwifery and writing, you would choose writing without blinking." I laughed and said I'd be a midwife who would write with her eyelashes or something, but I understood what she meant. I am compelled to write. And what am I going to write about but what I know? I don't write fiction (well) and even that would be about midwifery and women's health. I have reams of paper covered with my words. I have journals numbering in the two dozen range, filled with things I have written over 4 decades. Now, I happen to write on the computer, for others to see. I keep my personal life pretty private now (most of it) because some of the people who read don't need to know what goes on in my day-to-day life (and I miss writing about the kids and my partner and my mundane life, but the way the blog is set up now, I get much more interest and traffic than I did before), but my midwifery life is pretty fair game... WITH THE PERMISSION FROM MY CLIENTS. My clients reading now - and you know who you are - know that I have not written a WORD about them if I haven't asked permission. Some of you (my JillFriend, for example) have asked me to write and I haven't yet, for a variety of reasons.

- To entertain - If I didn't write in a way that made people laugh sometimes, I just wouldn't write anymore. I love, love, love telling stories... ask those in real life world with me, I am a supreme storyteller. If I were in another culture, that would have been my job - telling the stories of the tribe, the history, the antics, the joys and sadnesses. I have a memory for stories that surprises even me! And I am implored to tell them at family functions, midwifery gatherings and dinners with friends. Wildly gesticulating, enunciating hysterically, I can tell a story that makes people nearly pee their pants and have tears running down their cheeks. I have also been known to make people weep in their dinner napkins or wipe their tears on their skirts. Here, I have a wider audience.

- Because I have so much to share before I die - I am terrified of dying before all the words are said. Those that read me last year, know that I have this fear. I have so much to say, about everything, I arrogantly want people to hear what it is I have to share. I want my kids to know, my partner, my apprentice, the midwives around me, midwives I don't know, midwives that will come to this earth in 30 more years, apprentices now, students, doulas, doctors, nurses, mothers and fathers... I just want what I think and know to be heard. And really, if NO ONE read what I wrote until I was gone, it would be okay, too. I just have to get all the words out before I die. Being chronically ill with something that kills 60% of those that get it, I am on a time crunch. I am well enough right now, but relapses can hit at any time (and do). I might not be able to write in a week or a year. Who will write what I know?

So, these are some random thoughts about why I write what I do and the pains I take to make sure those that are written about are well-loved and attended to while I do so. I hope this helps in understanding the words that flow from my fingers onto your screen.

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Reader Comments (7)

Funny, I was just pondering this topic for my next blog post.

I can imagine how much of my stuff gets scrutinized, but hey, I'm just the assistant. ;)

I try to be mindful about how I translate my experiences and perspective. Oftentimes, even leaving bits and pieces out (things in practice I didn't agree with that were outside my control or not my "place".) Afterall, who am I to project my biased or negative objections/opinions/perceptions onto someone elses otherwise positive experience?

Keep keepin' it real.

August 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterladyelms

and I love to read stories- and you have the best stories I like the truth you tell even the if it brings in controversy. Personally I do like to tell stories but am not sure how much I want the criticism involved in public sharing on the level you and other midwives I have seen at times- thank you for the courage strength you exhibit to share these stories favored or not by all-
sorry they can bring up someone's issues at times- I was re-thinking your last post and the reaction to the birth in the breeze story- even from the woman's picture you can see the joy in her face- if it was something bad going on inside her or she felt shamed or subject to judgment coming from you or anyone in the room I do not think she would have seen her look so joyful.

August 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I wish I had written this...


I really enjoy reading what you write, too. I think it's so compelling because, and I just can't think of a better word, it's so real. Unfortunately, so much information and opinion loses its truth on its journey into words. Yours doesn't.

August 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

And please keep doing it!

August 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterleigh

Keep fighting the good fight.....

I was once able to write as you do, but no longer, I wish I could bring myself to blog regularly...but I learn so much from reading, and it helps me keep fighting myself....

August 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterOpening Pandora

Hi NM.
I just want to tell you that you are an inspiration to me. I have followed your blog for about 9 months now, and I just can't get enough of you. You give me so much to ponder and think about it, and this is something that I feel is very important to my education as a student midwife. I'm so very glad to have discovered your blog. I would also like to thank you for all of your honesty in your writing, it's so nice to see how midwives think and practice, especially you.

August 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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