I attended a birth as a doula this week. It was my first “natural” birth and an all around beautiful one. (As an aside, I’m still looking for a better alternative that “natural.” The reason I don’t love the term is exemplified in stories like this one. Any ideas?) It was a birth I walked away from feeling profoundly honored to have been able to attend – let alone to be in a role supporting such an incredibly strong and centered mama. It was also a remarkable birth for a hospital birth – the staff cared about this laboring woman, read her birth plan (for real), and did everything in their power to provide her with the labor and birth and type of care she wanted. I definitely applaud the work they put in to making this happen! And you know what else? I got to cut the cord! A very exciting honor for anyone, let alone a midwifery student.
It definitely feels different having attended a birth in midwifery school. There are all sorts of little things along the way on this journey that make it a little bit more real – things like learning hard skills like venipuncture and speculum exams as well as attending and participating in prenatal and postpartum appointments. When I do these things, I feel a little bit more like some day I really am going to be a midwife – it’s not just a far-off distant dream. Attending a birth feels like a huge step towards the reality of being a midwife. And it seems like a necessary rite of passage – it certainly feels like I’m really a midwifery student now, not just someone attending midwifery school.
The other night I dreamt I was pregnant and laboring. With twins, actually. I remember specifically when my water broke, because I then suffered from severe dream-induced oligohydramnios, I remember specifically talking with my midwife about the timing and intensity of my contractions, and when I transitioned from pre-labor to active labor (as if that’s possible to tell someone exactly) and then worrying afterwards whether I had given her the exact correct information or whether I had messed up the timing of contractions and cervical dilation for when someone transitions into active labor. I remember considering checking my own cervical dilation but deciding not to because I was so busy, and going for long walks to bring the babies down. I remember frequently performing Leopold’s Maneuvers on myself to check the position of the babies worrying that with one transverse twin, I might only get to vaginally deliver one of my babies.
Whew! When did dreams get so complicated? I admit to having a couple of pregnancy dreams prior to starting midwifery school, but this one was so different! It was like I was living my periodical exams in person, worrying about all of the correct answers and making sure I remembered every part of everything. What an exhausting (but totally fascinating) dream!
Is this what midwifery school does to you? I’m so curious to find out what happens next.
We have arrived! I started school last week, we found an apartment, made new friends, I got a job, went swimming in the lake, and successfully hit up the yard sales for furniture. It is a very exciting time and I can’t wait to delve further into this amazing work I’m doing. Fortunately, I have a ton of reading to do and plenty to keep my mind occupied. I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am to be back in school.
Here are some pictures of the early part of our road trip across the country for midwifery school. This will get you from Los Angeles to Wenatchee or so. Enjoy!
First stop, the San Francisco Bay area. Our friend BrightHands grew some incredible veggies in her garden.
Brighthands’ gorgeous cat Calvin. This picture doesn’t begin to do him justice. He is a sweet and intelligent cat who loves just about nothing more than to roam about in the vegetable garden.
Driving through the Cascade Mountains.
I love it when it’s gray and foggy like this.