...was a short note from a woman who's been reading my blog since I began writing and yet has never commented before. She said she'd long wanted to be a midwife, but the likelihood was so remote, she went on to get another advanced degree. However, the desire to be a midwife still plagued (my word) her, so when the opportunity (her word) presented itself to begin midwifery school - to start school all over again - she snatched it up.
This woman emailed me to thank me for inspiring her (I think) - for making her think, to cry, to hunger, to keep moving until her hunger could be statiated. I sat reading - and re-reading - the letter and wondering if she could possibly know what she was getting herself into. As much as I have written, there are a million more words I have not/ CAN NOT share here. Some descriptions defy comprehension... are so utterly exquisite any words used to describe them would be vulgar and offensive. Other experiences have no words in our language to describe them, therefore trying to write about them, even for me, would seem painfully futile.
In Wicked, Glinda, waxing poetic about her happiness at having all of her dreams come true, realizes that, in fact, it isn't all so wonderful as she expected. (Please read the words carefully... they hold special importance here.)
No, I couldn't be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn't be happier
Simply couldn't be happier
(spoken) Well - not "simply":
(sung) 'Cause getting your dreams
It's strange, but it seems
A little - well - complicated
There's a kind of a sort of : cost
There's a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn't know you crossed
Until you've crossed
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn't thrill you like you think it will
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Wouldn't be happier?
So I couldn't be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn't it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!
I was just talking to a student midwife this past weekend about this very thing and she was saying how having a license would change things for her and I told her how not having a license freed her from things she didn't even know about - that grass being greener thing in action.
It is tough having a license. When I got mine I said I would never let the law dictate what I did with women, yet, today, 2 years later, I am allowing the law to cinch my corset tighter and tighter for fear of losing that license. If I lose the license, then I can't help the majority in the name of the one that I step out of the boundaries for in the moment. Is this fair? Probably not. Does this make me happy? Absolutely not. Is it safer for me? Sure. Do I like it? To be honest, in some ways, it's comforting to abdicate responsibility to The Law instead of fretting over whether I should step out of the boundaries and risk my license for someone who may or may not get angry... who may or may not have to transfer care anyway in the end, pissing off the medical folks... who may or may not understand all the ramifications of the alternatives anyway. It's just sometimes easier to say, "No, the standards say I can't do that."
Do I practice midwifery because it's easy, though? Of course not. Do I take the easy way out? No. But I don't want those without a license to presume that having a license makes things easier simply because there is a piece of paper with their name on it. It complicates things tremendously.
I want students and apprentices to think about that as they head towards licensure - to temper their excitement with a heaping dose of fear for the realities of the responsibilities that come with it.
Two lives, legal issues, political wrangling with sister midwives, fighting for women's rights, struggling marriages, the never-ending pull to be with our children, but having to be with our clients instead, the waterfall of money that goes towards midwifery and office supplies, the oceans-full of love that is given to family after family (with your own lives becoming entwined no matter how hard we try to keep it from happening), the constant threat of lawsuits, the constant threat of having our licenses taken away, the constant threat of going to jail - or worse, prison - the pain of second-guessing ourselves over every single mistake or, even if it wasn't a mistake, an outcome that was less than perfect, the pain of considering leaving midwifery when a tragic outcome occurs, the pain of realizing our human-ness and how horrible that is when it comes down to it.
Singing love songs about midwifery happens all the time. The struggles are glossed over. I'm in a sad and pain-filled time and wanted to share just a tiny snippet of what is going on in my head and heart.
Oh, dear blog-reader who is excited to become a midwife, I am happy for you - somewhere. But, I am also frightened for you. I know what is coming. And I shake my head in sadness for the day when you remember this post... and cry right along with me.