Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Midwife's Transition

During labor, transition is often the most challenging period of time for many women. This is a time when a woman generally has to dig deep to find strength for herself physically and emotionally. I've seen many women begin to doubt themselves during transition. That's when they start to cry out things like, "Come on, baby. Mommy can't do this for much longer." or "Time out. I wanna stop now and try again tomorrow." The urge to quit can be strong, but women usually come through it and birth their babies (often within minutes of calling for a time-out). It's a beautiful journey to watch and I always feel blessed to be a witness to it. Although I've never physically birthed a baby, I feel like I can relate to this type of struggle on an emotional level. Actually, I feel like I've been in transition for months now.

My transition has been manifesting on many levels and in various aspects of my life. It began when I graduated from midwifery school last year. A dear friend and midwifery classmate was battling cancer. My determination to get through my schooling was fuelled by the fact that she had become so ill that she couldn't continue her midwifery education. What right did I have to complain of being tired when she was dying? Watching my friend, the woman who was supposed to be my future business partner, gracefully slip out of this life...that was a tough and valuable lesson. Every time I look at her picture where she's smiling at a mother and her newborn, my heart aches to talk to her again.

The next phase of my transition came a few weeks after my friend's passing when I got married. I love my partner and I love being married. Like many couples transitioning from being single to being committed and living together, there have been challenges for us. It's been hard for me. Especially since I moved to another state a thousand miles away (literally) from my family and childhood home the day after the wedding to be with my partner while he finishes his education. If someone had told me a few years ago that I'd be living in a state where it's warm only 3 - 4 months of the year I would have laughed them out of the room. Leaving my home just wasn't part of my grand plan. But here I sit.

The latest part of my transition actually has to do with this move. Unfortunately, I have found myself in a place that is not very mother-friendly, baby-friendly, or midwifery-friendly. After talking to several midwives here, I'm beginning to realize that I may never be able to practice midwifery the way my heart and mind see fit if I stay here. The midwives here are too often bound to hospital policies and medical practices that are not evidence-based or even common-sense based. And this is, in part, due to their hospital-based training. However, there is the issue of the midwifery laws in this state. In short, they leave much to be desired. I'm becoming discouraged. A part of me is ready to call a time out. All I want to do is serve women and families. Why does that have to be so hard?

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