In three weeks I have attended eight labors. Beautiful, fierce mothers working hard to bring their babies into the world. Three this week. And I loved supporting them. I don't even have words for what it feels like to be in a room with a couple awaiting their child. In my deepest presence and gratitude, I am no were else but with them. My Indonesian is improving; I can ask couples questions and communicate with them. I can't imagine not having this. I am so glad I am taking a daily language course in Ubud. It makes using the vocab and phrases they already gave me so much easier to use.
Similar lessons keep coming up around not taking things personally, and remembering WHO I AM. I know who I am, and what I can offer, and how good I am! The Indo midwives are glorious; I love them and really enjoy their comfort with birth. Imagine being comfortable with birth. Checking heart tones and blood pressure often, then giving mom space, taking rests themselves. I love them. My favorite room is the Midwife room, where you may find people sleeping, chatting, weaving small baskets for daily offerings. I don't mind chatting it up and making mistakes. I came here to be with them. They are so skilled and I love the trust they have in me when I am on shift.
We have a new doula from NY so I have a lot of free time this week so she can catch up. Tomorrow I visit the mother temple and as Andrea calls it, we are going temple hopping. Fun! Can't wait to take photos.
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I arrived to my little house behind BS about a week ago. It is lovely to hear birds all day today in the communal compound shared with Eka's family, during my day off. It smells of incense and I have made my morning ginger tea. I don't mind waking at 6am from the sounds of roosters and dogs, because I fall to sleep usually around 8pm when not working at the clinic. So far, it has been a pleasure to get to know the midwives, rub their backs, see how everything works around the clinic. I observed one woman's labor and another woman's birth on my first weekend here. And this past week I assisted another woman in labor for a full day. It was a beautiful connection and I felt so at home supporting her with massage, and including her partner in my care and attention. Whapio, my holistic midwifery teacher, calls it TEA- time, energy and attention. This is the work I provide, and this is what I love.
The Indonesian midwives ask me if I am here to train like the other midwife students here getting their "numbers" for midwifery school back in the states. I say, no not really, although I am here to learn and grow, and provide what I know, and experience this new way and culture. I did learn yesterday from my new American midwife friend Andrea, how to moxa a woman's feet in labor. That was rad. And I do get excited about taking blood pressure and heart tones at some point, when the time feels right. In general though, I am the doula, and it feels explosively right. I feel like a life doula, all the time.
It is a gift to be here, to watch the rhythm of the Indonesian midwives, to be accepted by them, taken in, welcomed, and in return I honor their ways and truths daily. To be with woman, does not equal, to be with midwife. It is to be with woman. So to be with anyone, is to hear them, see them, feel them. Not to expect them to be with you. In this way, I sit with these midwives just as I sit with my clients in NY. Seeing them unique, beautiful, in their own way, and worthy of respect.
I am a midwife in my own heart, but to begin to speak with labels just doesn't sit right with me. I am a woman, who works with woman, and women, and men too, and I embody this work as LOVE, love in its fullest meaning and potential. Where love's origin lives, I sit with woman, and there only.
Erica is a Childbirth Doula in NYC. Her present focus is on the postpartum period.