I still remember my in-laws politely asking me what a "midwife" was. I think they were worried I'd be giving birth in a barn. Honestly, even my husband was hesitant about me having a midwife instead of an OB/GYN. Thankfully, midwifery is becoming a more commonly accepted part of the pregnancy vernacular (even if no one can pronounce it correctly). Midwives have been around since time immemorial, but it's only recently that women are starting to rediscover them. Midwives are wonderful humans, and there were so many times I wanted to hug my midwife more than was probably (read: definitely) socially acceptable.
My insurance plan recommended that women who were not high-risk have their pregnancies and births attended by a team of certified nurse midwives. (An obstetrician was on call for emergencies and was always a choice for me, but that was before the AHCA.) I wasn't guaranteed to see the same midwife every time, but I was fine with that. During my prenatal visits, I met just about every midwife, which meant that whoever was on call when I went into labor would be someone I knew.
My partner, the skeptic, is now the world's biggest champion of midwives. He loved that they were all experienced mothers themselves, and felt comfortable once he understood that midwifery is, in fact, a medical profession. I loved that my midwives always had time to spend with me to answer all my questions. During labor and delivery, they were my greatest cheerleaders. That relationship, for me, was so very personal, and I'm beyond grateful to the amazing women who helped me through the toughest and most miraculous time of my life.
When She Sympathized With Me
I had terrible nausea the whole first half of my pregnancy. I'm talking dizziness, vomiting — the whole nine yards. One night, when I was throwing up nothing but stomach acid, I made my husband drive me to urgent care. They gave me IV fluids, but the doctor remarked, "Must be your first pregnancy."
My midwife, however, was quick to provide me with the empathy I needed. She didn't dismiss my symptoms as "typical," and put me on Vitamin B6.
When She Let Me Hear My Baby's Heartbeat
OK, so I know this is something most pregnant women get to do (although I worry that women will now have to sacrifice their prenatal care). So maybe it's not something extra special that my midwife did just for me, but she will always be the person that gave me the gift of letting me hear the life inside me.
When She Gave Me A Courtesy Ultrasound
Knowing what I now know about the difference between sex assigned at birth and gender identity, I'm more conflicted about finding out the sex of an unborn child. However, when I was pregnant, I thought it would help me know the baby I was growing inside my body a little better. My husband wanted to find out before we went home for the holidays, but we weren't scheduled for our sonogram until January. My midwife did us a solid, brought in the machine, and told us we were having a little girl.
When She Told Me To Drink Coke
In my second trimester, I developed debilitating migraines. I was still teaching full time, and Tylenol just wasn't cutting it. That's why I was pleasantly surprised when my midwife recommended caffeinated soda, just no more than 200 milligrams a day. I started drinking a mini-can of Coca Cola during second recess, and that was blessedly enough to get me through the day.
When She Told Me I Could Have The Birth I Wanted
I always thought that having a midwife meant I had to have an unmedicated birth. Although that was certainly something I wanted to try, I didn't want to take the epidural off the table. When I asked, my midwife assured me that the decision was entirely mine. Thank the labor and delivery gods it was, too, because my labor was 29 hours. I requested pain medication 20 hours in, and there was no guilt or shaming involved.
When She Got Me Into General Surgery ASAP
The week before I gave birth, I developed hemorrhoids from hell. It was the weekend, so I ended up in urgent care. My husband and I were there for hours before I was seen, at which point the doctor excised them. When I saw my midwife a few days later, she saw that they were still thrombosed. Knowing the intense pain I was in, she got me the very next surgical appointment. I was so grateful to have them taken care of before I had to push a baby out.
When She Stayed Past Her Shift
My labor was quite long, which meant that by the time my midwife's shift was up I hadn't given birth yet. My baby's heartbeat was slowing down every time I pushed, so I was stressed (to say the least). My midwife told me she would stay by my side until my daughter was born.
When She Cheered Me On
When the new midwife came in, she decided we needed to bring in the OB to vacuum the baby out. As I pushed, I cried out, "I can't!" The doctor and both my midwives shouted, "Yes, you can!" I finally decided to push even though my last contraction was over, and the encouragement that I was kicking labor ass and taking delivery names was just what I needed to be able to bear down.
When She Took Pictures
Once our sweet daughter was out and placed on my chest, it was time for my husband to cut the cord. One of the midwives was giving him instructions, so the other one asked for his cell phone. I'm so thankful for her thoughtfulness and to have that special moment documented.
When She Told Me My Baby Was Beautiful
When she visited me in the recovery room, she remarked, "I've seen a lot of babies, and that is one beautiful little girl." I'm sure that's what all midwives say to all new mothers, but it felt special. We'd been through a lot together, and she was invested in my baby. For that, I'd like to send my entire team of midwives a big, old virtual "social etiquette be damned" extended hug.