Bucket List #13 Epiphany

I think the last two days have been a sign for me. Today’s bucket list item was going to be:

13. Champion a cause.

I was feeling optimistic. I was going to give myself some time to think about it (like maybe even years) and then eventually commit to a cause that tugged at my heart and that I felt needed my action. If you read yesterday’s post then you know my feelings towards pregnancy and birth. I did a post about it, my best friend was in labor, it’s been on my mind. Her baby was born early this morning, beautifully, and my day was off to an amazing start. I was elated that my friend got to deliver her baby without a cesarean section and that she’s joined the ranks of mommies everywhere. It had me thinking about how lucky I was to fulfill my own lifelong dream to deliver Porter out of the hospital, with midwives and in the most natural way possible. I was flying high. Then I got the saddest email, of my life. It delivered news that rocked my core in a way that I can’t deny and have never felt before. My cause landed straight into my mailbox, ding!

If you live in the Boise area, you may know about the recent events surrounding our local midwives Coleen and Jerusha Goodwin. I’d say Google it, but I’m not sure the media has portrayed the whole situation without serious bias, and I don’t feel the details about what happened are mine to share. What I do know is that they are not able to practice midwifery in Idaho and have been bankrupted by these recent events. Not only are these local midwives, but they were my midwives, along with a few other beautifully skilled women, whom Coleen and Jerusha trained. The whole situation makes me sad. Not only for my midwives, but for the babies that won’t get to be delivered into their skilled hands and to future midwives who won’t get to apprentice under them. This loss impacts the entire community and the entire midwifery movement. My heart is broken in a way that I’ve never experienced before.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a doctor present at a birth, other than what I’ve seen as a doula. I’m pretty sure that most  folks don’t have a professional relationship their doctor, have them deliver their child and then take a walk in the park sharing scones and coffee with them and their children. Please, correct me if I’m wrong. I did have those relationships with my midwives. I worked with them professionally as a doula, before they so graciously provided 100% of my pre and post natal care. Then I got to hang out with my midwife Holly and her beautiful daughters in the park. The relationship that any woman and family has with their midwives is strong, but I feel especially attached to these women and the work that they do. My history working with both doctors and midwives has shaped my beliefs about the way I think birth ought to be handled.

There aren’t a lot of blatant political statements on my blog, and that’s on purpose. One, I don’t like confrontation. Two, I want to have fun writing. Three, I want you to have fun reading it. I know that when political positions are established that there will always be people who disagree, and I don’t expect this to be any different. If after reading this, you want to tear into me about the state of birth in our country, please consider first taking a deep breath. Remember, I’m not assessing YOU specifically. When you feel like we can have a calm conversation about it, drop me a line. Please don’t impale me in the comments section below.

So here it is, my cause that I feel I cannot abandon. Which I promise to fight for and represent as long as I can stand it, and my spirit hasn’t been broken like the midwives I know and love. They who have been pioneers for midwifery in Idaho and champions for personal choice. Who put their passion on the line and had it ripped and beaten to shreds. For those who have been forced to drop the banner, I must pick it up and carry on. For Coleen and Jerusha Goodwin, two of my angel midwives whom I trusted with my life and my baby’s life, to whom I am eternally grateful.

I promise to champion completely natural midwife assisted, and when possible, out of hospital births. To defend the practice of midwifery and the women who provide prenatal, postnatal and well women care because it is a calling and a passion. For the women and families who chose miwifery care for all their prenatal, post natal, and well women care.

My knowledge of pregnancy and birth in the US is greater than most, but nowhere near where it’s going to have to be. I promise to become knowledgeable about studies and statistics regarding birth, and especially out of hospital midwife assisted birth, so that I can be a responsible representative for this cause.

I believe that pregnancy and birth are natural and normal, non medical, life events.

I believe that every birth should be attended by a midwife, except for the absolute highest risk cases, which according to UCSF Medical Center is only 6-8% of all pregnancies. This means that 92-94% of births should be attended by trained midwives.

I believe that hospital birth is not the safest option for all women to deliver babies. To read the debate about this click here.

I believe that women don’t need time lines, pitocin, cervical ripening, epidurals, elective cesareans or cesareans because of “failure to progress” in order to deliver healthy mamas and babies.

I believe that there is an entire mindset surrounding birth in our country that is contrary to the last statement, and in order for those ideas to become true we must change the way we teach families about birth.

I believe that women are inherently strong and capable in mind and body. Big women, small women, women of every race and creed are capable of delivering babies naturally. I don’t think that just because we have the option to take away the pain of labor that it’s a good idea. Allowing a woman’s body to work the way nature intended serves a purpose. Maybe it’s like an initiation, maybe it makes you fight harder for your children. Whatever the purpose of totally natural pregnancy, labor and delivery, it’s there for a reason.

I believe that science and technology have overrun pregnancy and birth. That because of the need to categorize and quantify everything in medicine, most doctors practicing family planning and labor/delivery have little or no idea about what normal natural birth looks like. Midwives do.

This is the start of my journey. One that started when I was a child, fascinated by reproduction and birth and matured with the out of hospital midwife attended birth of my own child. I am glad to have found a cause that means so much to me, but saddened that it took such loss and heartache to really understand my own feelings and spur me to action.

Coleen and Jerusha Goodwin and all the other midwives I know: If you read this, know that I trusted you, and you never once let me down or led me astray. Without you, and the work that you’ve dedicated your lives to, my own life and the lives of my son and husband wouldn’t be as fulfilled. Not only did you give us confidence in your ability to midwife our family, but you gave us the confidence we needed to become informed parents and citizens. Thank you, thank you, a million thank yous.

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