For quite a few years, I had the exquisite privilege of attending homebirths in New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina. Those were very sweet, chaotic, sleep-deprived and beautiful times. The last birth I attended was in 2001, I believe. It was in South Carolina, and we had to transport, but it was still a beautiful birth. I was licensed in South Carolina as a Midwife Apprentice at the time, working towards full licensure under an amazing midwife, the wonderful, skilled, and gracious Susan Smart. (She is still practicing midwifery in the Upstate of South Carolina, and I cannot recommend her highly enough!)
But I digress. At that time, I had been feeling deeply divided between my very young family and attending births. When I was at home, trying to homeschool my three children, oversee orders and deliveries with our local whole food co-op, tend my huge vegetable garden, and take care of our Nubian Dairy Goats and Chickens on our small farm, I was distracted by thoughts of pregnant bellies, and my mind would inevitably wander to births and due dates. Conversely, when I was at prenatal appointments or births, I found myself worrying about my children, fearful that I was not spending enough time with them, that they might not be getting enough attention.
So, I prayed. Then I talked with my husband, who prayed with me. And I came to the very sad decision that, for that season, I should stay home and be 100% with my family. It was a very difficult decision for me, but I felt a great peace about it, and knew it was the right one. We moved up the mountain to Saluda, sold our farm, and life went on. I didn’t really give birth much more thought for quite a few years until our home burned, and I lost my extensive pregnancy/(home)birth/breastfeeding library. And all the work I’d done with Apprentice Academics (now knows as Ancient Art Midwifery Institute, or AAMI). And the records I’d kept of every birth I had attended. I just decided to turn my back and not think about it for a while.
When my friend Bonnie passed away in 2008, I was astonished to learn from her family that she had bequeathed her homebirth books to me! I am still humbled beyond belief to realize that, out of all the things and people she was thinking of right before she died, she remembered me and wanted me to have those books. I feel her with me every time I open one of them. I placed them carefully on my shelf, and again, didn’t turn my heart back to midwifery. It still wasn’t time.
After we moved back to Texas, invariably, in conversation with my new homeschooling friends, the topic of pregnancy or birth would come up, and I would put my .02 in. It got out that I had, once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, practiced midwifery. Attended homebirths. And my friends, a great many of whom are still having babies, started telling me how wonderful it would be if I were to go back into midwifery. I blew it off. I mean, it was sort of flattering, but really? The schedule is insane, the pressure can be intense, and let’s be real, it can become a matter of life and death. Why on earth would I want to go back to that? And they were probably just being polite, anyway. . .right?
But somehow, every time I walk into Half-Price Books, I walk out with a book about birth. I’ve tried to rebuild my lost birth library, but I’m nowhere near done yet. And so many wonderful books have come out in the past 15 years or so since I last purchased a book on the subject. Also, I’m discovering, so many wonderful books from the salad days of the homebirth/midwifery movement have gone out of print and are no longer easy to find. Some are outrageously expensive!
So why am I dragging my gentle readers down my Midwifery Memory Lane? Because, after not attending any births for roughly thirteen years now, I have decided that I am going to pursue licensure here in Texas. I’ve had far too many ‘hints’ and ‘nudges’ to think that God isn’t trying to speak to me about this. And, for the first time since I attended that last birth, I feel totally at peace with the idea again. Excited, even!
I am hoping to start by offering some Doula Services, and helping a friend of mine out, who is a Doula and has just submitted her work to begin her training for licensure. It’s a small beginning, but it feels very right.