Shortly after I moved to Chicago I went to see a friend’s band play. When I walked into the bar an incredibly short, incredibly cute woman bounced over to me and said, “HI! YOU MUST BE KIM! I AM SO HAPPY YOU ARE HEEEEEERE!” Then she hugged me. I had no idea who she was.
Growing up tall, overweight, and awkward it was ingrained in me to view small, cute girls as the enemy simply because they were everything I was not. I had largely gotten over that prejudice as adult, but I was so blindsided on that night that the old instinct returned. I instantly hated this woman.
I did not know that the next time I saw her would change my life.
The woman’s name was Rebecca. She was a friend of some of my now-husband’s friends. I saw her again a few weeks later at a friend’s house on the Fourth of July. By then I had overcome my unfounded disdain from our first meeting. She was very nice.
At some point another woman asked Rebecca about being a midwife. (Rebecca is a midwife.) I sat down. I didn’t know anything about midwifery. (I didn’t even know the word “midwifery.”) It seemed like an interesting topic.
From Rebecca’s casual conversation that afternoon I learned a lot about midwives. I learned that Certified Nurse Midwives have master’s degrees and years of specialized training in childbirth and women’s health issues. I learned that many midwives (including Rebecca) work in hospitals. I learned what should have been obvious but I’d never really thought about before: That giving birth on your back with your feet in stirrups is fighting against gravity rather than working with it.
Rebecca said a lot of things that made sense to me.
Let me stop you mid-eyeroll to note that I’m not some hippie who doesn’t believe in modern medicine. My father was a pharmacist. My mother was a registered nurse and a hospital administrator. I greatly respect and value people who work in conventional medicine. I am glad that modern medical treatments exist in the event I need them.
That said, I am perfectly happy when I don’t require medical intervention, and I’ve been lucky enough to have needed it very little. I’ve never had a broken bone or a major illness. I’ve never needed surgery. Even my wisdom teeth are still intact.
The idea of low intervention childbirth, particularly in a hospital where all the other options are available just in case, seemed great.
At the time I was in the midst of wedding plans not birth plans. I had not giving any thoughts to my birth preferences before, but I stored this information about midwives in my brain for later.
A year later to be exact.
Then I was married and planning to have a child. I reached out to Rebecca and she recommended several midwifery groups at hospitals near me.
I scheduled a meeting with the head of the midwives at a nearby hospital. I really liked her. She was smart and funny. We bonded about Bikram yoga. Plus, I learned more things I found desirable about choosing midwives for maternity care.
One key thing was that prenatal care is scheduled specifically so that patients are examined by each of the midwives at the hospital. That way whoever is on call the day the baby is born is someone the mother has met at least once, and the midwife is familiar with the patient both from that examination me and from the fact that the group meets and discusses all their patients.
A friend had recently had a child that due to some unexpected circumstances had to be delivered when her beloved doctor was not there. She talked about how disconcerting it was to have her child delivered by a stranger. I wouldn’t want to give birth with a stranger either, so the idea of getting my care from a group sounded great on top of all the things that Rebecca had said that got me interested in midwives in the first place.
(Plus the hospital had jacuzzis in the labor and delivery rooms, which sounded awesome.)
A few days later I found out that I was pregnant. I didn’t interview anyone else. I called back the woman I had met and made my first appointment.
After months of care from all the midwives, my son was delivered by a friend of Rebecca’s who I had met at her going away party.
I kept going to the midwives for my well-woman care until I was pregnant again. My daughter was delivered by the woman I had interviewed.
I gave birth with midwives. I can’t imagine having done it any other way, and I can’t imagine that I would have even considered midwives if it were not for Rebecca.
I was inspired to write this because of a ChicagoNow writing prompt of “…and that’s the day my life changed.” I don’t know how much my overall life was changed by being at a Fourth of July party where a woman discussed being a midwife, but it definitely changed two of the most important days of my life. For that I am incredibly grateful.
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