Before you read this I would Like to warn you tat the following post is aimed at adults and has some objectionable terms and phrases. I would say it’s about PG 13 level of offensive so stop reading now if you are easily offended.
For those who don’t know, the other day (May 5th) was International Day Of The Midwife. I thought in honour of that I would share a bit about our birth story and our experience with midwife care. Let me first say that midwives are awesome and I really mean that; if you’re a midwife reading this YOU are awesome! Midwives are almost certainly the oldest medical tradition on this planet, women helping other women give birth has been with us for a very long time. It is therefore pretty strange that when we announced to our family and friends that we were using a midwife we were met with a lot of incredulity. Some of our friends are also crunchy people and from crunchy families so they weren’t surprised but by and large the rest thought we were a little crazy (others omitted the “little” part altogether). At first I felt the need to defend and educate people about our choice to use a midwife (which these people saw as our choice not to use a doctor) but after about a week I was tired of it and realized there was nothing to defend. From that point on my response was the same: Them, “you don’t want a doctor?” Me, “why? she’s not sick!”
Popular culture has painted an interesting picture of the birthing process: Panic, screaming, hospital lights, stirrups, drugs, scalpels, doctors, operating rooms, and fear. This is what I’ve observed from having watched TV from an early age, this is what is taught to us, to North America’s young women! Of course, when popular culture portrays midwifery it’s even worse! Anyone whose seen “The Backup Plan” knows that non-operating room births are not respected in pop culture. If you haven’t seen it, I’ll recap: J. Lo is expecting and is invited by her support group to witness a home birth (here it is if you want to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNJDaOGsOAE) It starts with a lady nursing a toddler (another thing hollywood finds hilarious to mock for being so ridiculous, if you read my previous post you probably know what I think of that) then the lady with the bongo drum arrives, obviously this is the midwife (duh! who else would play the bongos?). J.Lo proceeds to be FORCED to watch the birth while the pregnant lady screams at her, a bunch of women sing in the background, and of course we mustn’t forget the bongoing midwife! the scene ends with J. Lo and her partner walking down the street with PTSD induced empty gazes. So that’s how homebirths work! Thank you Hollywood for clearing that up for me (dear hollywood, please find enclosed with my letter a whole sack full of dicks…. eat them!). Let me assure you that nothing like that happened at our home birth, I mean J. Lo didn’t even show up! (and I sent her such a nice invitation on facebook!)
Let me go back to the beginning though because I really want to share the male experience of a midwife. For those men reading this that don’t have children yet the first thing you need to know is that the process of preparing for the birth of your child will be three things: educational, stressful, and humiliating.
1) Educational – You will learn things you never knew, things you thought you knew but really didn’t, things you didn’t want to know, and things that you would have been happy to be dead and buried without knowing! You need to roll with it. Yep, that’s all the wisdom I have for you, roll with it. Your only other option is being a knuckle-dragging troll who takes no interest in his family. Oh, and I’ll call you a pussy!
2) Stressful – The woman you love most in the whole world will, over the course of the next nine months, become mother nature’s favourite joke! She’s going to gain weight, have pains, be constantly starving, have her guts moved around, and become generally uncomfortable at all times and in any position. Also, Mama Nature is going to slowly crank that hormone dial from a reasonable level “2” up to a level “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!!!!”. Seriously, neighbors will ask you if you can turn her hormones down! Gratuitous sports analogy time: Alright dudes! This is the big game. All that understanding you’ve been practicing, all those times you did stuff you thought was stupid because she wanted to, The backrubs (you know, the ones you did because she was ACTUALLY sore, not just the ones you did to get sex), the encouragement, and all of that empathy, your day has come. This is the championship, you have to dig deep, grab on to your danglies and take the ride because you are now in the fight of your life! All that crap you stood up on your wedding day and bored all your friends and relatives with, right now is the moment that the you’re expected to pay the hell up and not be a wuss!
3) Humiliation – Here’s a piece of advice for all of you who aren’t dads yet; this is what you will need for the big day when your baby is born, write this down. Go down to your local sporting goods store and pick out a ridiculous track suit and a couple of pompoms because you sir are a glorified cheerleader. You will never feel more useless in your life because you will never be more useless in your life. Some men have the delusion that they are helping with the birth, I’m telling you now to not be that stupid. Childbirth is like a rollercoaster: you may scream, you may puke, you may pass out or any number of other things, you may even have a great time! But rest assured, just like the rollercoaster it keeps going no matter what you’re feelings are on the matter. So suck it up, embrace your role as an encouraging spectator, and try not to be too annoying because she’s got a lot on her mind!
For me, this was a great time to have midwives. We had a team of four women: Jana, Jane, Claire, and Nadine (we also had one named Deborah at first but she left the practice and was replaced by Claire); you’ll notice that I didn’t include any last names on this list, I could say that was to protect their identities because my blog is so popular they would be inundated with calls and letters making impossible to do their job properly. The truth is, for the several people that regularly read this blog (much love to you, sincerely) that really won’t be an issue; the real reason is that I never knew their last names. We felt welcome from the first moment we were there. I’ll never forget our first appointment because my wife had always wanted a midwife so she had written our local government about covering widwifery as a medical alternative, which they later did. On our first appointment our midwife that day, Jane, mentioned the letter and told my wife it made a difference.
The care of our midwives was a bit different (not that we really have other experience to judge from) because every appointment had its fair share of medical testing but also they always asked us how we were feeling, how was our relationship, and how I was feeling; having anyone care how I was feeling during my wife’s prenatal checkup was unexpected but it made me feel really great about the care we were receiving. The midwives were always available for questions and concerns, they had an emergency line, an email box that was constantly monitored, and an on-call number 24/7 which was a giant load off my mind because the one thing I knew for sure was that I never wanted to be out of touch from medical expertise.
Finally, when the big day came they were amazing! Jane was our lady, and she was great! when she arrived I would like to say I was a little flustered, I had not slept much at all, I had no real idea what to do, and I had just flooded our bathroom! (true story, seriously, if I have a kid and she hasn’t died or gotten seriously injured yet there is hope for you too!) Jane was as cool as a cucumber, gave me a task to do (which I think may have had more to do with getting me out of the room than anything) set up her stuff, did a few tests and started knitting. That’s right I said knitting! She knit my daughter a touque while my wife was in labour! These ladies are a whole plate of awesome with a side of awesome sauce! After Mia was born they did the follow up check-ups at our house; no, you didn’t misread that, they came to our house and they did it more than once!
The entire experience with our midwives was so great that I would recommend them to anyone! I personally know that without widwives my wife’s pregnancy would have been so much more difficult. From here on whenever I think of birth I think of midvives and I would like to say on behalf of myself and all the other mushy simpletons who’ve had a midwife, Thank you Ladies! Thank you so much! Happy International day of the midwife.
All the best,
Three of our four midwives with Sonya and Amelia. From left to right is Nadine, Claire, and Jana.
We don’t have a nice picture of Amelia with Jane but this is a picture of her sleeping on the couch next to her best friend Baxter wearing Jane’s hat.