A little over two years ago I received an invitation to take part in a journey to make childbirth normal. The midwife who ran the birth center where I had my own daughter found me on Facebook and asked me if I was interested in becoming a midwife’s assistant. I thought I would die just then!
However, the journey was short lived. I was only making $100 per birth and this was unacceptable to my husband. In case you don’t know, this was a 12+ hour shift. Though I had set up 24/7 on-call childcare for when he needed to be somewhere (Amanda if you read this thank you so much), I too felt it was a tad bit unfair considering all the work that was involved. And I’m not being ridiculous here. I love childbirth and the opportunity to be involved in so many new lives was amazing!
The things that got to me were things I cared about. I wanted to be involved in the process. Instead I was just a worker. I would help a little during the birth, but then my job consisted of paperwork and housekeeping. Several loads of laundry, draining birth pools, bleaching everything… it was exhausting. Since babies like to come at night this meant I would go all day being a mother to my own child, get a call at 10pm, go to the birth center, wait for the baby… then spend 10 hours cleaning up and putting everything back into place.
Like I said, a lot of it was fine. But the fact that I didn’t feel appreciated played a big part in what I felt to be too much for so little in return. I would come home exhausted and frustrated and upset because I was often scolded for doing something wrong or leaving it incomplete. I didn’t feel like I was bad at my work, but I felt like the midwives didn’t like me. There were four of us: one was a midwifery student taking online courses getting clinicals, one was a nursing student with a passion for childbirth, and one was just a mom who wanted to help out other families. Then there was me… and I’m not too too “crunchy” or that well trained in nursing-like things. So I was probably the least informed. But that didn’t change the fact that I wanted to learn. And I’m a fast learner folks…
Then the birth center launched a midwifery school and we were told that the students would now be the assistants. Since I couldn’t afford the school I could no longer assist births. Total bummer. So I went to DONA training to be a doula. I never finished out my certification though because this is around the same time I started having problems with my home life and began moving around. It’s hard to get referrals and build a client base when you aren’t staying put.
The only birth I attended in after my move wound up being a cesarean. As a doula I know this is not my fault. The baby was two weeks overdue, and the mom had a c-section with the first. Her doctor recommended she be scheduled for a c-section. Cesareans are not all bad, but the c-section rate is high for us as Americans and a lot of these surgeries are unnecessary. I felt like I had failed my client. I didn’t take anymore clients after her.
I did encapsulate her placenta though, and that was a success. 🙂
I am in the middle of “My Name is Mary Sutter” and it has me thinking of things I should have done differently. I could have fought for my right to be an assistant (I doubt it would do any good). I could have pursued midwifery school right then. I could have stayed put for the sake of a career as a doula. Mary, in the novel, is very persistent in her quest to become a surgeon. I wish I had that drive.
Gaia is four now, and might start school in August. I’ll have my AA in May and I’m not sure if I can afford to continue my education. It would be a tough struggle. I have to work full-time starting in May and work out schedules with the ex so we can both see her often. I feel like if I went to school I’d be stressed out even more and possibly sacrifice time I could be spending with Gaia. But if not now when? When is a good time to continue my quest and become a midwife?
Hell, I don’t even know if I was meant to be a midwife. I just know that I’ve been obsessed with the idea since I discovered they still existed in modern-day society. I also am not sure if I should go through nursing school to be a CNM (Certified Nurse-Midwife seems practical because of politics and regulations) or trade school to be a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife is what I think of midwifery overall — holistic and healing). There’s a lot to figure out still.
I’m just bummed because it seems like an unrealistic goal at this point…