Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Believe me, I have had my ups and downs. Some have recently been surprised to see my name after irate blog comments, “wow, that doesn’t sound like you,” is the usual response. Some have seen it on my face at work, saying, “Oh, so that’s what’s up.” And my partner is riding through the storm of each day’s report back of the latest news in midwifery. Good thing she is in the news and loves the drama. Of course, she’s on my side though and has lots of strategic ideas. But the latest midwifery round of betrayal and bad faith negotiating has made me look at my core. I ask myself: “What do I believe?”

I am not sure if I was always someone who subverted the dominant paradigm. When is it that you first notice that you don’t want to shop at the Safeway or Walmart? How does that even happen? How do those values arise? Why is it that some are unwilling to follow the flow and insist on following the beat of a different drummer? I grew up in a mainstream town, lived in a family that followed all the mainstream trends, from shopping at Sears to buying whatever was on sale in the Penny Saver. Does my father even now what Organic means? I am sure he does not.

So, when, how and why did that all come about? Wouldn’t it have been easier for me to just step in line and keep up with Joneses. It began in college. I fell into step with the hippies at the Crafts House and found a resonance there that was refreshing, different, exciting and inspiring. These were people who I wanted to be with. They had ideas that were different and unusual. Like vegetables. These people ate lots of them and some of them only at vegetables. Organic when possible. Simply by choosing different food to eat, I had stepped into a different world. A world largely different from the flow around us.

This world, of course, opened my eyes to other non-dominant paradigm ideas as well: tie dye, communal living, non-violence and enlightenment. My eyes were wide, my heart open and my mind filling with information. And of course, we were all together, living in the grooviest place on campus, the Crafts House.

So that is how it all began, I didn’t grow up a hippie or have any encouragement from my family. As a matter of fact, most I what I do and feel now, they definitely do not understand. In the same way that I can not understand them. But I moved out of the Crafts House, graduated from college, and began my life as an adult groover in earnest.

By many standards, I am not EVEN that groovy. I don’t spin wool, I don’t make my own goat cheese, I don’t even have a pet. But I do recycle, I do try to remember to bring my own bags to the grocery story, I compost my food scraps, and I practice as a midwife. A homebirth midwife, that is. A non-dominant paridigm midwife. I am out on the edges of society with the less than 1% of women and families who are choosing this too. Why are we here? Because we believe.

So, what is it that we believe in so strongly that we insist on swimming upstream? I started out believing when I was 12 years old that I wanted to help people. I wanted to deal with real life scenarios that would involve excitement, intrigue, precision, and healing. I wanted to immerse myself in a life where I was needed as an integral member of the community. I wanted to know people on a first name basis and sit down to dinner with them after a long day’s work. Being a country doctor may have fulfilled all of these wishes. But when I was a student in college, with all of the other pre-med students, I realized that I was not on a trajectory that would lead me to that end. I felt that I was at the beginning of a long journey that would propel me head-long into medicine, without knowing truly how to heal people. So, I changed course. I looked away from the dominant paradigm. I looked away from medical school. But at the time, I didn’t know where to turn.

Until I graduated and lived on the Vineyard for a summer. A friend of mine handed me Spiritual Midwifery and said I might be interested. There they were. The hippies, the counter-culture, the ones eschewing the dominant paradigm with aplomb and vigor. And they were having their babies in buses and on a commune with midwives. I knew this was it. This was the healing, the wholism, the community, the culture, the spirituality that I had been looking for. Midwifery would provide a connection to women and families and children and society. Midwifery would provide a spirituality that was rooted in everyday miracles and the unbridled power of women. Midwifery would provide a healing pathway for women as they reached deep down inside of themselves to find the inner strength to give birth. Midwifery would provide a healing pathway for families as the witnessing and participating in birth led to unparalleled bonding, love and admiration. Midwifery would provide a strong intellectual stimulus for my mind, ever searching for meaning behind the signals of birth, always fascinated and learning. Birth is never fully knowable. All of these things I believed as I finished my reading of Spiritual Midwifery, ran to the store and bought Heart and Hands, and transported myself to El Paso, TX to attend midwifery school.

It all began as beliefs.

Twenty four years later and almost having seen 1000 babies come into the world, it is much more than belief. It is deep inner knowing from having witnessed women in their travail, in their glory, in their achievement. The women themselves have been my teachers. The women and their babies. The women and their partners. The women and their wisdom.

I believe that women are strong, powerful and resilient. I believe that midwives are valued by their clients as trusted guides and facilitators of birth. Midwives hold women when they are most vulnerable: raw, open, surrendered. Midwives honor mothers for the amazing job they are doing, birthing their babies. Midwives touch women’s lives in a way that resonates for decades.

I believe in my work. I believe in the work of my colleagues.