For just about nine months, my midwife was one of my favorite people on the planet. She was kind, smart, reassuring, and always took a lot of time at appointments to make me feel comfortable and empowered in everything that was happening in and with my body. She instinctively seemed to know exactly what kind of support I needed on a given day, and that was never more crucial than in the home stretch. There are things every pregnant woman wants her midwife to know in her third trimester that are going to be crucial to a positive pregnancy and potentially even birth experience.
My first birth was actually attended by an OB-GYN whom I loved. But between my first and second birth I'd moved, so I needed to find a new provider. Because my first delivery had been a C-section, and because I knew I wanted my second to be a vaginal delivery if possible, I knew I was presented with a challenge in finding a VBAC-friendly care provider. Many doctors will not even consider the merits of a VBAC before denying one (despite the recommendations of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Others will say they're VBAC-friendly but will ultimately push for a C-section. Even in spite all of this, I wasn't dismissing the possibility of an OB-GYN out of hand, but I did begin to incorporate midwives in my care provider search. As soon as I met Kristin, who was a midwife, and I knew she was the one I wanted to catch my baby.
As with any pregnancy, there were times when I desperately needed to feel heard, understood, and supported. Kristin was always there for me, understanding my need sometimes even before I could vocalize them. Here are some of the things I wanted her to understand that, I'm sure, any woman wants her midwife to know.
I'm So Over It
I have been carrying this child for minimum 28 weeks at this point. That's 4,704 hours of gestating if we're taking about the very beginning of the third trimester. If I go to 40 it's 6,720 hours. And there's a decent chance I might go beyond that. That's a tremendous amount of time to do anything, let alone something that makes you an anxious, hormonal, aching, hungry, pukey mess who just wants to meet her baby!
I know you see a lot of pregnant people, and I know that it's best to bake this little bun until they're ready to come out of the oven... but also understand that, even knowing that, I'm just so completely over it and I don't think it's unreasonable, either.
I'm So Tired
I'm so exhausted, emotionally, mentally, and physically. This is slightly but importantly different from being over it, which is like being tired with a pinch of salt. Telling you I'm tired speaks to a kind of sadness, coming from the part of me that is beginning to feel like all of this is impossible. The part of me that has been fighting the idea that my body is no longer my own and is starting to lose. The part of me that really wants to rest but can't because I can't sleep anymore. Knowing that this is very much a part of my reality right now is an important piece of knowing where I am right now.
I Need You To Stay With Our Plan
People who choose a midwife (at least in the United States) often make this choice because they have a particular plan for their birth that they feel will be better supported by a midwife than an OB. Maybe they want a home birth, or a water birth, or a medication-free birth, or a VBAC. Whatever their motivation, whatever their plan, it was important enough for them to go outside off the typical path to work toward it.
Midwife, that plan is important to me. I need you not to suddenly change your tune. If we've been talking about going into labor on my own this whole time, please don't start dropping hints about induction when there's no particular reason to suggest one.
Stick to the plan, please.
If There's A Medical Reason We Can't Stick With The Plan, Give It To Me Straight
Of course babies don't care about our plans, right? I know this, and I knew going into this whole delivery thing that there was a chance that my ideal birth would never come to pass for reasons beyond anyone's control.
If that happens, and if there is a really important reason a home birth is out of the question or I need a C-section or we have to do some kind of induction, please deliver this news with respect for my feelings and intelligence.
I Need You To Be Cool If I Don't Want To Stick To The Plan
I get to change my mind about anything at any point because it's my body and I do what I want! If I tell you that I want to go to the hospital to give birth now instead of deliver at home, please don't try to scare me with stories about the medical industrial complex. If I want an epidural, just respect that I want the epidural and know what's best for me. My choices may ultimately wind up different from your typical birth philosophy or what you'd choose for yourself, but you don't get to choose for me and my body isn't a place for anyone's choices but my own.
I Will Almost Certainly Have Moments Of Self-Doubt
I feel you'll probably know the difference between a firm, thoughtful change of plans and a moment where I'm acting out of a sense of fear that my body cannot possibly do this horrifying thing it's supposed to do. I know you are intimately aware of exactly how my body will most likely do this, but please be gentle with me and try not to roll your eyes too hard... at least not in my presence. Even if this isn't my first time, I'm so tired, over it, and emotional that it still feels very new and impossible.
I Need You To Talk Me Down
Please, dear midwife, talk me down by building me up. I'm a grown-ass woman, but I feel like even grown-ass women need a little emotional hand-holding and pampering every now and then, right? Please reassure me, even if it's painfully obvious, that I will eventually give birth and that I can do this and that all will be well.
The third trimester is hard-won but still long and I'm going to need regular pep talks. I'm going to need you to channel all the great inspiring speech-markers. I need you to be my Barack Obama and my Coach Taylor and my Daenerys Targaryen rolled into one.
I'm Really Vulnerable Right Now
I mean, even physically, like, from an evolutionary standpoint, a waddling, clumsy-ass, extremely pregnant woman is one of the vulnerable members of the herd, right? I feel like that plays with some part of our lizard brain that translates to us feeling emotionally very raw and exposed and open.
I Chose *You* For A Reason
You're awesome, midwife! We click! I researched you. I interviewed you. I knew you were the person I wanted at my side for one of the most important moments of my life. I trust your expertise and knowledge. I know you can get me through this.
I'm Feeling A Lot Of Feelings Right Now
I am legit Jessie Spano in the infamous caffeine pills episode of Saved by the Bell. I'm so happy and excited that this is almost over and I can meet my little one. At the same time I'm also out of my mind with worry because you never know what can happen and also hormones. And then I'm cranky and in pain because this baby is somehow crushing all my organs, but also serene and calm and glowing and also still, somehow, feeling nauseous.
I'm exhausting myself, I know I must be exhausting you, too. Bear with me, midwife.
I Need You To Believe In Me
Because I have such a high opinion of you, your opinion of me matters tremendously. Let me feel the love. Let me believe that you truly know I'm going to make it through this.