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.
All is well here at the Holistic Matrona program, in Asheville, North Carolina. We're almost at the halfway mark and I'm amazed at the material covered and the depth of our work so far.
One of the biggest things I've gained is the notion: Midwife=with Woman, not Woman=with Midwife. For me, this means really getting where my client is coming from. Throwing my agenda and my opinions out the car window before I pull up. Hearing her story, knowing why she wants what she wants, and helping her to achieve it. Whapio once said, "I care about you. I'll bend over backwards to give you what you want" For me this is the epitome of the midwife's role...to be WITH WOMAN.
More and more these days, women are choosing midwives who do not hear them out and who interfere with their labor process. I keep wondering, Why?
We think we have to give our pregnancy and birth experience over to another person; we think they know better than we do; we think we don't know how to find our way.
I promise you- You know the way, and if you don't, you will surely find it in labor....if given the chance.
In short, make sure you're care provider is not going to tell YOU how to have YOUR baby. Get it? Our role as 'doula' is to ensure that your experience is yours, and your decisions are yours, and that your care providers are hearing you, and standing by you in the most sacred and life-changing day of your life. This birth belongs to you, and your family.
Erica is a Childbirth Doula in NYC. Her present focus is on the postpartum period.