Campana: January 2013

It’s been a while since I have posted anything for several reasons. I have been dealing with some physical issues that have depleted much of my energy both physically and emotionally. I have been trying to recover and reclaim my health and energy since my return to the U.S. late this past summer. This has been a difficult season for me, making me wonder how I can recover and maintain my health with the schedule and demand that is now on me. I have felt old and tired many times in the last 8 months or so which has been very discouraging and concerning to me. After several cleanses, nutritional, herbal and other natural remedies, I am thankful to be able to say I am feeling a good deal better this last month, although not yet 100%.

Just a quick update to briefly fill in the gap since my last post. I finished up my time in the Philippines at the end of August. My time there was well spent, both from a clinical and personal perspectives. Experiences to learn and also some to teach, as well I met some new friends and midwives that are doing some great work serving those in need.

Currently I am back in SC working with a preceptor at a free-standing birth center. There are 5 midwives and 3 apprentices/interns. So far this has been a good experience and I am learning more about natural remedies including homeopathy. The plan is to finish up my clinical requirements (which I only have 2 more births for that to be complete), then take and pass the board exam this summer.

Most of the births I have attended since Dec. 2012 have been like a wooing to my spirit, reminding me of my love and awe of the birth process. Most of these births have been accompanied by long labors, like 24-48 hours or more (which I do NOT love….). All parties involved have been exhausted to say the least. During those long hours, days and nights I have witnessed some of the most precious intimate moments that serve as reminders for me of the sanctity of it all.

Throughout the years working with laboring women I have heard many women cry out during labor and the birth of their children. Cries of pain, fear, joy, sorrow, loss and what I have previously described as desperation. Recently though, I witnessed and experienced two mothers do something I have never seen or heard before. I guess I would define it as a kind of desperation, however not like any desperation I have ever before witnessed in a birth room. This was absolutely soul penetrating for me to witness, it was powerful and strong.

My preceptor and I had tried everything we knew to do, trying to help these women to rest when labor would wane. We kept them hydrated, got food in them to keep their energy up, tried every position possible to help their babies realign themselves and come down into the birth canal (One of the babies did come down, and then she went back up. If I hadn’t witnessed it myself I would have told you that isn’t even possible, but it did happen…). I watched as their husbands encouraged, held, fed, hydrated, massaged, lifted and carried them.

I do not know if I can accurately express here what I heard and felt as these two mothers cried out for their children. Literally, calling/crying out their child’s name, begging them to be born through tears of pain and suffering, both having been in labor over 36 hours. Tears welled up in my own eyes and my body ached with compassion and empathy for them. Wrought by their agony, my spirit and soul were moved as their voices pierced the night air. I stood in front of both these women, I felt helpless to ease their suffering or bring forth their infants, and I was….

The veil between heaven and this earth becomes so very thin when birth is happening. The air in the rooms become thick and almost tangible, you see evidence of love manifest. A mother must give herself to labor itself, to the pain and misery that is the power of the miracle she is apart of.

Every midwife knows

that not until a mother’s womb
 softens from the pain of labour

will a way unfold
and the infant find that opening to be born.
Oh friend!

There is treasure in your heart,

it is heavy with child.
Listen.

All the awakened ones, 
like trusted midwives are saying,
 ‘welcome this pain.’
It opens the dark passage of Grace.
(Rumi)

Being with women in their most vulnerable state, midwives attend to them and often their partners during one of the most intimate times of their lives. Sometimes, when it all becomes so heavy in the birth room, I want to turn away my eyes because it is overwhelming to be witnessing these moments that belong to other people.

This profession is intense and intrusive both for midwives and the women we serve. It is an honor and a privilege albeit with personal sacrifices being common. Yet, I know this is a part of who I am and who I am called to be.