September 30th through October 7th is National Midwifery Week. According the the National American College of Nurse-Midwives, "National Midwifery week was created to celebrate and recognize midwives and midwife-led care."
No Ordinary Women would like to recognize midwives as undeniable examples of sisterhood at it's finest. The following is a piece written by Stephanie Curtis, a certified nurse midwife, extraordinary woman, and a friend to NOW.
One of our patients gave me a gift. I was perplexed as to why. I didn’t think we had a particularly strong connection. She labored beautifully and didn’t need much assistance. She turned down most of my suggestions. She handed me the present and told me this birth had been the best of her three and she felt I was an integral part of it.
I was? Really?
"Yes. You listened to me. I felt heard."
There are too many instances in health care where women are not heard. One of the worst things is when she feels like she isn’t "allowed" to do something.
"They wouldn’t let me decline."
"They wouldn’t let me choose an alternative."
"They wouldn’t let me get out of bed."
What?! Misperception may be a factor in some cases, but this narrative is all too common.
It is awfully difficult to empower someone while trying to control them.
Midwife means “with woman”. As a Midwife I get to listen…really listen, to women routinely. I hear the fears, the overwhelmed sighs, the lack, the doubt, the comparison, the mistrust, the shame, the anger, the regret. She walks into my exam room and the birth center vulnerable and I have this incredible opportunity to listen to her story. We attend medicated and hospital births, but we seem to be infamous for the “natural” childbirth route. It isn’t unusual for me to hear, “I don’t want an epidural” and “What if I can’t handle it?” in the same conversation. I won’t underestimate her and I won’t try to control her either.
You can do it... but you don’t have to.
I love how my friend, Ingrid, chose an unmedicated birth despite folks around her telling her she’d need an epidural. She decided to commit to relying ultimately on God’s strength for her labor. Amidst the frenzy of getting her to a birth room because of her rapid progress, she clung to her husband and to scripture. Quickly, her son came into the world with a loud cry and her voice rang out in worship, gratitude, and love. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed.
God heard her prayers for power and strength just as he heard the woman with her son by her side in the desert ready to die. And the woman struggling with infertility. And the woman who only had enough for one last meal. And the woman with a sordid relationship history. And the woman who sat at his feet learning with all the men. And the woman caught red-handed in her indiscretion.
The Bible is full of accounts of women who said to God, “You heard me!”. As a midwife, I get to do a lot of really meaningful things, but I’ve come to see listening as one of the more sacred things. Obviously, you don’t have to be a professional Baby Catcher to participate. Like the No Ordinary Women team, we all can help move each other forward by creating a tradition of sisters who hear one another.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie is a certified nurse midwife at The Midwife Group and Birth Center in Savannah, GA and a gleefully grateful recipient of the grace of God. When she's not catching babies, she's probably playing volleyball or tennis or watching Star Trek.