I had to stop today and remember what happened on this date seven years ago…it’s actually hard to believe it’s been that long! I’m sure the fact that it’s also one of my grandmother’s birthdays helps to remind me of the actual date, but it’s fun to take some time and think about and remember some of the dear people that played such an important role in the midwifery aspect of my life. It was on October 16 in 2007 that I had the great privilege and wonder of “catching” my first baby…
As a student midwife, I had been eagerly anticipating when this time would come. By that point, I had finished almost one year of the academic work required to complete my training, and I had been working, living and training at Family Birth Services, a birth center/training center since the end of May of that year. Living at FBS was like studying midwifery by immersion…that was seriously most of what you did all the time…live, talk, think, dream and study birth, babies and mothers. Since my arrival at the birth center about 5 months before this, I had spent many hours sitting in prenatal appointments, talking with other midwives, attending births in a variety of settings, and trying to take in everything I possibly could.
Family Birth Services was a wonderful setup for aspiring midwives. Besides being staffed by a lovely group of ladies (who didn’t mind questions and discussions going on into the wee hours of the night!), those of us who were students were offered the opportunity to truly get our hands into the work as the birth center offered discounted rates for those families who chose to have a student provide them with care. When I think back to the families I had the joy of working with (many of whom still stay in touch today!), it makes me incredibly grateful for the investment they made in my training. Getting the opportunity to learn how to care for mothers and babies while assuming a major portion of responsibility is one of the best ways to learn! And I’m grateful, too, for the midwives who tirelessly gave of themselves to supervise and ensure that the clients were still receiving safe, quality care while allowing the student to provide as much care as they were capable of.
So, come October, I was feeling mixed emotions about when I would get to play the primary role in my first client’s birth. At this point, I had already had two primary care clients who had already delivered…one who went preterm, and another who ended up delivering while I was gone at a required midwifery training workshop. I should back up here, too, and note that while I had been assisting with other births, each of us students especially savored the relationship we had with our “own” primary care clients-these were the ladies we were providing care to under supervision, and whose births we were the most involved with. Due to the fact that I had some ability to communicate in Spanish, I was give the opportunity to take on my own primary care clients earlier than most students, as there were no other students available at that time who were able to offer Spanish speaking care. My dear Spanish-speaking supervising midwife, Sorani, had her hands full as she not only worked to help me communicate with clients, but also worked to make sure I was covering all the details needed especially since I was so early in my clinical training.
Given the fact that my two previous clients had not turned out the way I was hoping, I was beginning to wonder what might possibly happen with my third client. Sorani patiently encouraged me to trust the Lord with the timing and outcome, and relax while we waited for this baby who was taking her own good time to come. I still remember getting the call on my phone in the wee hours of the morning, and thinking that here was my time to put into practice the things I had been learning! Things seemed to be progressing well, and since this birth was planned to take place at the birth center, my client decided to come on in.
I’ll never forget the thrill that went through me when, just about 2 hours later, I helped this beautiful little girl enter the world during a lovely picture-perfect birth. While the difficult births would take place later, this first one was beautiful…totally breathtaking to me as a new midwife, and thrilling as I realized again how much I was drawn to the birthing process and how fulfilling this work was-even at 4 in the morning! 🙂 I’m sure Sorani (who was supervising) and Peggy (the other student assisting) won’t forget how they had to pull me down to earth and remind me that I really should eat something before my blood sugar crashed due to the high I was on! 🙂 We had a special celebration with hugs and ice cream in the kitchen early that morning, and I was reassured that this was indeed the work that I thoroughly enjoyed doing.
While there have been lots of other experiences in the years since, this birth still stays clear in my mind. And on this day when I remember this particular birthdate, I also want to thank all of those who invested in my training…the families who allowed me to be a part of their birth experiences, the midwives who allowed me to be part of their practices, those who spent hours teaching/instructing/coaching me, the other students who I trained alongside of, and the Lord who opened the doors and allowed me to be involved in the beautiful & intense work of assisting new lives into the world. Thank you!