Waiting for a birth as an independent midwife is a bit unnerving. Ideally you set your self up to have 2 or 3 births a month, but as we know term dates run two weeks on either side and more times then not your ladies all start to labour around the same week. They are either moving past 40 weeks and in to their 41rst or 2nd week or just coming up to 40 weeks in their 37th or 8th week. How ever it happens, they are like buses, you wait all month for one and when her labour starts so do all the others.
There is also the issue of the time between births. I can go a month or so with out one birth, which is a challenge for me because like most midwives I am a bit of a birth junky. I crave the the call and that beautiful space where women labour in intimacy and spirituality. This time is simply LUSH and to work in that energetic space is sooo addictive, the wait between each birth is feels so wrong. In fairness I have no idea if I would have the same buzz off of birth if I managed to have two or three a week on a consistent basis. I would love to have some kind of magic wand where I could be assured 1 birth a week. Even if it was difficult or long. In truth I really like these births even more than the quick easy ones. Being with women through a longer or more difficult journey makes my job feel worth while. Seeing her transform through the hours or pain is a great gift. But I think only another midwife, mother or birth worker can really understand that statement.
I feel as a midwife it is very important to be fully aware of my own energy when I enter the labouring space, so when I have had a long gap between births I always find I need to do a bit of work to get my energies right for the space. Traveling to the birth, I am aware of my excitement at attending as well as that tinge of fear that keeps me on my guard. I go over emergency scenarios in my head on the way to the birth and walk myself through everything that needs to be done and prepared for the birth. I guess each midwife has her own pre birth ritual. Once at the front door and just before I ring the bell or knock, I exhale deeply trying to drop all the excited energy and tension before I enter the space. This usually works well and I greet the person answering the door with a big warm smile and heartfelt congratulations. I then go about my work of preparation and waiting. Wow there is that word again, waiting.
I once heard someone say a good midwife knows when to wait and when to act. Its the art of sitting on our hands and trusting the woman’s body to do its own work, while being prepared to assist if needed. The art of observation without appearing to observe, the art of being prepared for action all the while you are appearing inactive and the art of bringing and or keeping calming and secure space in one that can easily dissolve into chaos and fear.
In my personal life I am very much a doer. I get things done and don’t wait around for things to just happen, unless I know that waiting is what needs to be done. I don’t just sit and rest well unless I am exhausted and even then my head is busy, so it is strange that I have been called to midwifery. With this said I know that this work has changed my personality greatly. Where as before I could wait for no one or thing I am now more able to wait in ques or for people and things. I find in my daily waiting I use the same practices that I use in a birth. I tell myself that when the time is right it will happen, relaxing each muscle in my body and giving into the moments of time that pass in preparation for the action that will need to be taken when it is my turn in the que or the awaited parcel or friend arrives. This ability to wait with understanding that ,all things have their time, is a great gift given to me by the women I have attended in birth. It is a wisdom of ages, I believe, and a much treasured and needed one in life.