I’d like to approach the delicate subject of transports to the hospital from home; mainly for my own reflection and processing. I say “delicate” because for many (midwives and mamas alike), a transport conveys the “failure” of someone or something. In the past, I’ve been the midwife that, I’ll admit, has heard other midwives’ transport stories and thought indignantly, “You transported for THAT?” I’ve also been the mama who had to transport her own non-breathing baby boy at birth. These different perspectives are all a part of the midwife I am, and the one I will become. And just so you know, the subject of “transports” is really the vehicle for discussing a deeper topic….
I’ve had 2 transports in my year and a half of practice. Of course, by even telling you that I am trying to prove something, or maybe it’s to disprove something. That my transports (or lack of) somehow indicates my worth as a midwife. As if I am in control of the outcome, as if these births I attend are all about ME and how skilled, intuitive (substitute your favorite midwife attribute here) I am. These 2 transports, the most recent in particular, have shown me how ridiculous this mindset is. And how if I (or any midwife) operates under that notion, birth becomes ego-centric and also totally disempowering to the woman.
All I can really say detail-wise is that these transports were non-emergent–as in there was no emergency present and everyone was aware of that fact. I can’t explain it but I also can’t judge it. The lightbulb that went off this time around (and I do believe it’s because I missed it the first time around!) is that not every woman I serve will have a homebirth. Shocking! Not every woman I serve will “get” the birth she wants. Even more shocking!
And even MORE shocking than that is, it is not my responsibility to make sure that she does. Because by doing that, I make my own story more important than hers. I make the “homebirth” the goal, I make the “perfect birth” the goal because that is what I want, that is what I think she needs….and if that doesn’t happen, then somehow I have failed. Maybe she has failed. Thinking that “perfect” means something other than anything being WHAT IS.
There’s a midwife who in her worldly and spiritual perfect-ness is desired to be emulated by midwives and other women in general; she may or may not exist, I really don’t know. This midwife is infinitely intuitive, able to be the utmost counselor, able to deal with every woman’s emotional/spiritual/psychological issues in a timely manner so that nothing is preventing the woman from experiencing the most blissful, unhindered birth. I too, long to be this extraordinary midwife sometimes until I realize that I don’t think that’s the point. As midwives, we take responsibility for taking care of mama and baby in as many ways and variations as we can. But birth is NOT about us- we are the guides, the caretakers. We are not perfect either. We are the protectors of the space, and I see that as a huge responsibility.
The true empowerment can only be “gotten” by the woman herself; and in what form that is, we cannot know or judge.
I want to offer a different perspective, both from my eyes as a midwife and a mother. There is a bigger picture at work here. There is a Higher consciousness that serves us all, and to act like we KNOW how things need to turn out is just plain arrogant and egotistical. Who’s to say that a woman needs or should have a certain kind of birth? How is that respecting the path that she walks? It is not my job or my goal to affect change on anybody’s path. We each have our own to walk, and out own lessons and trials and triumphs.
To want to direct someone’s path to look like our “perfect” is no better than to disempower women in other ways. If I am but a guide, but a trusted advisor as a woman enters labor and birth, then it is not my job to feel responsible for where she is or to judge where she needs to go. The ONLY reason we have come together is because we have gifts to offer each other–even if mine is simply being the person that doesn’t judge her for changing her mind, or for wanting pain relief. The second I make her birth a story about my validation, I take her away from graciously accepting the lessons she needs, not necessarily wants. I am just another person that is distracting her from her true self–and a disconnect to that part of her being will affect her birthing, and her mothering and beyond.
As midwives, we love these women and these babies. We do everything we can for them, to protect them and assist them in realizing their own power. Part of that process, part of realizing our OWN power is to separate all of that from the outcome…as undesirable as transporting, or even something like death, might be. We are not that. Our egos cannot be inseparable from the path she must walk, whatever that is.
To me, that is the true meaning of “midwife”. To walk with women with no expectation of feeling our self-worth or lack thereof. To know that we are not a part of anyone’s “perfect”.