Posts Tagged ‘midwifery’

With Woman

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

It is anticipation, flutters and quickening.
Life and growth and unparalleled beauty.
It is squeals and coos, wriggles and dimples.
Hanging scales with tiny feet peeking through.

It is knowledge and wisdom, training and practice.
Books and research, instinct and reason.
It is squatting and reaching, twisting and folding,
meeting a mother and her baby right here.

It is a never-off cell phone, interruptions at dinner.
Put off vacations, and birthdays on hold.
It is seizing the moment, because you’re not at a birth,
keeping scrubs in the car and bags packed and ready.

It is saying the hard things, in compassion and grace.
Holding hands and “I’m sorry,” grieving and loss.
It is sitting and waiting, listening and presence.
Letting grief take its course in her heart slowly breaking.

It is business and money, budgets and forms.
Paperwork piles, contracts, and records.
It is hiding the headaches and ignoring the numbers,
Trusting provision will come someday soon.

It is building a village, stone by stone every day.
Community, relationship, and opening doors.
It is connecting her with new like-minded others,
Helping her realize she is in no way alone.

It is hands and heart in equal measure.
Richness and fullness and life as reward.
It is working in joy, frustration, and love.
Being with woman is far more than a job.

What does midwifery care mean to you? 

Faith, Family, Midwifery, and Such

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

I long for real community. A place where women and their families can come together to connect, support, and just do life together.

As I stood over my cutting board, processing 40 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts by myself, I thought how much more enjoyable the task would have been if I had had someone alongside me. I’m tired of being independent in everything. I want to lean on someone. I have no problem at all being alone, doing things on my own, because I can. Quite simply, I’m pretty good at just getting things done, and it rarely crosses my mind to ask anyone to come along.

I don’t want to anymore.

I want a friendly face beside me, just doing things together. Laundry. Bulk cooking. Spring cleaning. First my place, then hers. Like they did 150 years ago in rural areas, not because they liked each other so much, but because it enabled better survival and created a safety net of people who would rush to your aid when your barn was on fire.

I have so many ideas in my mind of how to make this happen. First of all is to invite others into my space and set the example. (So if anyone wants to split that 40 pound box of chicken next time, hit me up!)

Another idea is to use the NextDoor app to reach out to my literal neighbors, and host small gatherings. I’m actually thinking of making a ton of apple cider on Halloween/Reformation Day, and ladling out hot cups of it from my front porch and meeting my neighbors. Or starting a neighborhood Bible study, unconnected with any local church.

I have already done a freezer meal session with my best friend, and it was amazing! We managed to put together 11 meals for our families, and loved the time together! She used several of hers to bless other families in need by taking them dinner. So the ripple effect of our efforts touched far more than just our families. I love that.

I have also determined to ask for more help. After spending about five hours (at least) looking for a good deal on a winter coat for my eldest, I realized I could have just posted on Facebook to see if anyone had a hand-me-down. With how many clothes I pass on to smaller people, it makes sense to try and look for people who would be willing to pass down to my kids.

One of my favorite things to do is to call up a friend, find out what their plans for dinner are, and combine forces. Another of my best friends–I’m an extrovert, I have more than one best friend–and I used to do this all the time. We would combine her pasta with my veggies and a few random sides, and create dinner together for our families. Especially when it was near the end of the month, and we were both short on groceries and cash. The weird meals we made were not Pinterest-worthy, but they were appetite-worthy, and brought us together as families. Totally worth it.

Acitivies, events, and playdates are all great, but I want more. Because when you go home from the playdate, you still have 87 piles of laundry to do. You still have to cobble together dinner at the end of a long day of errands. You still have to be a decent human being to your spouse. And that can only happen in community.

So, that’s my heart. This is what I want to do here on this blog. Write about faith, family, and community. Midwifery, birth, and all that jazz are intimately connected to those topics. And I find that I cannot write about one without writing about the other.

Welcome to my renewed blog, where you get all of me! Not just the birthy me. I hope you find a comfortable place to pull up a chair and read!

How do you find yourself creating or participating in community?

Grace & Peace,

Your Job Must Be So Fun!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

baby looking at title, your job must be so fun
This is the most common response I get when I share with someone what I do for a living. When I share that I’m growing into midwifery.

If all we did was snuggle babies and drink margaritas, I suppose this statement might be true.

But this job isn’t all baby snuggles, and it rarely involves even a chance at a margarita.

Fulfilling? Yes.

Rewarding? Absolutely.

Fun? Not so much.

That word, in fact, minimizes what midwives do. It reduces it to the same level of a weekend hobby. Is there joy in this work? More often than not, yes. While the joy inherent in this work is a big part of what sustains a midwife in the long haul, there is so much more to it. There is a hidden side of midwifery that many don’t see or understand, and it is this hidden side that flashes before my eyes when someone comments that my job must be “so fun.”

This is not a job anyone signs up for to have fun. This is a job we sign up for because we are compelled. It is an irrevocable call on our lives.

As Desirre says, “It’s a calling that follows you around until it catches you.” We often don’t even realize it’s our calling until one day we awake to the startling discovery that we cannot escape what we are meant to do. And what we are meant to do is to be “with woman.”

We are meant to be midwives.

Like the “witches” and wise women of old who quietly served women and their babies with dignity and a deep knowledge passed down over time. It is our inheritance, and it carries with it the weight of responsibility, accountability, and power. The calling of midwifery is inescapable for those who hear it, and insurmountable for those who only wish to.

It is “fun” for no one.

There is, however, fun within the work. Laughter and joy are bricks in the foundation, and this work could not be done sustainably without them. The joy of watching a father’s eyes light up at the first sound of that pattering heartbeat. The laughter when big sister has to have her tummy measured too, or big brother insists on helping us hold the Doppler.

Of course, there’s the ultimate culmination of joy, the crowning glory, when that slippery wet tiny human is lifted into a mother’s arms, ready to meet the great wide world. The moment heaven itself pauses to rejoice at another everyday miracle.

The arrival of a new soul on Planet Earth is no small thing. It is a great mystery and marvel, and it is midwives who have always been there, very near the heart of it all, acting as ushers and servants making way for the tiny new being and his mother to step into life together.

Fun?

No.

Miraculous, joyful, powerful, fulfilling, important? Yes.

Ultimately, this work is eternal, impacting future generations forever. And that is a weighty thing, not to be taken on for anything less than a deep and abiding call.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany
Student Midwife

My Greatest Fear

Monday, August 1st, 2016

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

My light does frighten me. I am afraid of center stage, where hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and pride can so easily take over. I am afraid to face those who would admire and look up to me simply because of what I do for a living. I am afraid to do too well, be too successful. I can deal with and accept my darkness. My flaws and failings are all too apparent, daily. Even hourly. There are glaring gaps in my character that scream at me to stay in a place of condemnation and false humility. I am more comfortable with my sins and flaws than I am with my strengths and giftings.

No more.

I am a midwife.

This is a truth I am trying with all my heart to embrace fully.

No, I have not achieved certification, and still have a ways to go before I do, but it is still the truth. A midwife is who I am. I say it not as a credential, but as an identifying characteristic, like being a wife and a mother.

I have played small up until now, deferring to others rather than stepping into the role for which I was created with confidence and humility.

No more.

From now on, I will serve the world. I will be brilliant. I choose to shine brightly and make manifest the glory of God, in whose image I am created.

I will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God as a midwife. Confident. Able. Strong. All to reflect his glory and his Name.

I will liberate others to shine, and to walk in the strengths God has given them. Only then can I overcome this weakness of false humility and hypocrisy. I am a child of God, and I will conduct myself as such.

I am a midwife, and I will not play small to fear any longer, by the power of the God who created me, called me, and equipped me.

I will trust in Him. I will not be afraid.

And I will not hide anymore.

100 Things I’ve Learned in 100 Births

Monday, February 15th, 2016

100 Births blog post
So, my 100th birth happened last week, just before midnight on the 12th.

100 births since 2008. 44 doula births. The other 56 births were as a midwifery assistant and student. Those began January 29th, 2014–my late father’s birthday. The birth of a new life, and the birth of my midwifery journey. A significant day for me. Among these are two unplanned home births, in which I discovered I have what it takes to stay calm in unexpected situations.

100 births. Not counting the ones I missed by as little as a minute. I’m not sure how many of those there are, but there aren’t very many.

There is so much I have learned since I attended my very first birth as a doula in 2008. And there is still so much I need to learn. I am delighted, honored, and sobered at the distance I have traveled. Still more so at the distance I have left to cover.

How do I do it? The same way you do your life: One step at a time, one day at a time, to the best of my ability, with the help of others who have gone before, and the ones who walk it with me.

I will not turn away.

100 Things I Have Learned in 100 Births

  1. Just when you think you know birth, you are proved wrong.
  2. If it could go wrong, it probably won’t.
  3. But you should still keep your eyes peeled.
  4. Women are truly amazing. Every one of them.
  5. Babies are people too.
  6. And they deserve the same human dignity and respect as their mothers.
  7. Affirmations work.
  8. But they look different for everyone.
  9. The circumstances of birth don’t matter as much as how the mother is treated.
  10. Empowered women are formidable creatures.
  11. Midwifery isn’t for wimps.
  12. Being on-call is stressful for my family.
  13. I must be mindful of my priorities in ways many others don’t have to be.
  14. It does take a village.
  15. You have to choose your village wisely.
  16. My village kicks arse. Especially that portion made up by my husband and children.
  17. My husband and children have given me more grace than I deserve on this journey.
  18. Pay yourself first.
  19. You can’t control for what baby decides to do on the way out.
  20. Sometimes, perineal tears happen in spite of everything you try.
  21. A birth pool really is the Midwife’s Epidural.
  22. This job isn’t “fun.”
  23. Three o’clock in the morning midwife humor is fun, though.
  24. People will text you at six in the morning to ask why the sky is blue.
  25. You really have to know your “Why” for doing birth work.
  26. Your family has to know and believe in your “Why” as much as you do, or it won’t work. It just won’t.
  27. I want to be known as a praying midwife.
  28. As a doula, my bag of tools got lighter with every birth.
  29. Sometimes, my hands, my voice, or my presence were all that was needed.
  30. I am enough.
  31. Hard things are worth it.
  32. There is nearly always a learning curve to breastfeeding, even if you’ve done it before.
  33. VBAC is incredible.
  34. The medical reasons for interventions are real, and should be respected.
  35. The health reasons for natural, physiologic, unhindered birth are real, and should be respected.
  36. It’s okay to speak the truth in love instead of just saying “Whatever you want, dearie.”
  37. Healthy mom, healthy baby needs a new definition in this country.
  38. A healthy baby is not all that matters.
  39. How we birth matters. A lot. I didn’t realize how much until I began this work.
  40. Decisions based in fear are never good decisions.
  41. It’s not consent if you’re afraid to say “No.”
  42. I am stronger and smarter than I thought I was.
  43. But I still have a lot to learn.
  44. The day I lose my sense of awe and sacredness in the birth space, I need to quit.
  45. The day I think I have arrived, and have nothing more to learn, I need to quit
  46. Making cesareans more humane is good.
  47. Reducing the number of unnecessary cesareans is better.
  48. Formula is a medicine.
  49. Breast is not best, it’s normal.
  50. Boobs are not for sex, though they do help it along.
  51. Boobs are not fully developed until they have lactated.
  52. Breakfast is always appropriate.
  53. Humility is central to this work.
  54. Being teachable is absolutely necessary.
  55. Thinking outside the box is a skill that should be developed to its fullest.
  56. Becoming a midwife is hard.
  57. Like, really hard.
  58. And expensive.
  59. As it should be.
  60. Midwifery is an artisanal skill.
  61. It should never be allowed to disappear.
  62. When you hire a midwife, you hire her whole tribe.
  63. When you hire a midwife, you are choosing to birth local.
  64. When you hire a midwife, you are choosing to be responsible for your own care.
  65. Prenatal care is what happens between your appointments.
  66. Nutrition matters a lot more than we ever thought.
  67. Midwives have known this forever.
  68. Birth is made up of strong women doing very vulnerable things.
  69. Meconium happens.
  70. And sometimes, it really sucks.
  71. I have seen the worst, and I still want this.
  72. Midwifery isn’t a career.
  73. Midwifery is a calling, deep, strong, and undeniable.
  74. If I weren’t studying midwifery, I would want to be a hospice nurse.
  75. The end of life is very much like the beginning of life.
  76. Sometimes, the thing that shouldn’t work, does.
  77. You don’t always have to understand why or how something works, as long as it works.
  78. Pulsatilla is awesome.
  79. I love seeing a family hear their baby’s heart tones for the first time.
  80. I love watching men become fathers.
  81. Gentle loving touch is a big part of what’s missing from modern obstetric care.
  82. I don’t notice nudity anymore.
  83. Placentas are not always appropriate topics of conversation in mixed company.
  84. Circumcision is a rarely justifiable elective surgery. Look it up.
  85. Methods don’t work, except for a select few women.
  86. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
  87. Flexibility is everything.
  88. Never hesitate to speak out of fear of looking a fool.
  89. If the zombie apocalypse happens, I’ll still have a job.
  90. Birth is much safer now because of two things:
  91. Infection management.
  92. Hemorrhage management.
  93. Midwives know both. Really really well.
  94. Knowing your clients gives you good instincts.
  95. Your heart knows as much as your head, even if your head is late to the party.
  96. Sometimes, the only legitimate basis for a hard call is your gut. You have to trust it.
  97. Finding heart tones takes practice and patience.
  98. If I know what needs to be done, and how to do it, I should not hesitate.
  99. Midwifery is who you are, not what you do. You either have it or you don’t.
  100. I am a midwife.

There is so much more I could add, but I wanted this to be off-the-cuff, and not over-thought. It was important to me that it be in my brain’s real-time, and not artificially cooked up to be more or better than what I actually am.  It’s just very random thoughts off the surface of my brain. Some deeper than others, but all true.

What about you? How many births have you had or attended? What have you learned about yourself or about birth through them?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

30 Days of Gratitude, day 19: Vivian Harmon

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Copy of thankful 2015 day 19Vivan Harmon, Student Midwife extraordinaire! I do not exaggerate when I say that I am most grateful for my fellow student and assistant. The more I get to know Vivian, the more I admire, respect, and love her.

When I first started assisting Desirre, she and Vivian had already worked together as assistants under Merrie MacDowell, the midwife who caught my two youngest babies. They had a rhythm in their work that was like a choreographed ballet. I wondered in my insecurity if I would ever attain that kind of synchronicity.

Thanks to Vivian, I have.

From the beginning, she taught me efficiently and kindly how to do what she does, and brought me up to speed faster than I would have thought possible. She has had nothing but grace and kindness for me during our entire professional relationship, and I feel blessed to now count her among my friends.

Ain't she purty, too?

Ain’t she purty, too?

She has been open to my questions, taught me how to do things before they are asked for, and shown me little tips and tricks that make the work we do so much easier and more efficient. She knows how to cooperate and work together, how to correct mistakes graciously, and how to lead and ask for what she needs. She and I work together so well, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her calm presence.

Vivian is intelligent, honest, loyal, professional, honest, capable, humble, confident, kind, funny, and pretty much just amazing all around. I kinda want to be more like her when I grow up.

As we face separate paths this coming New Year, I couldn’t let this old year pass by without expressing my gratitude for her presence in my life. Thank you, Vivian. I heart you with many hearts.

Who are you thankful for in your life?

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller
Student Midwife and Childbirth Educator

30 Days of Gratitude, day 18: Scrubs.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

thankful 2015 day 18Scrubs. Those ubiquitous uniforms worn by most health care workers. Whether they are hospital issued, color-coded for security, or fun designs to please the kiddos, they are a genius invention.

Today, I am thankful for scrubs.

Many midwives don’t feel quite comfortable wearing them to births, as they feel it brings a too-clinical/medical air to the home birth environment. I get that, in some ways, and can empathize. However, I happen to disagree.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) I have yet to meet a mother who takes issue with scrubs being worn in her home. (That’s not to say there aren’t any, just that it doesn’t seem to be the norm in our area. I’m sure I would accommodate if a request were made. Though, I’d insist on the pants at least…)

2) Our job is, in fact, clinical. It just happens to come from an entirely different worldview and care model. A midwife’s responsibility is still rooted in clinical health and safety, though it goes far beyond that into supporting wellness. It makes sense to wear clinical duds.

3) At a birth, we are often likely to be “baptized” with various bodily fluids, and you can’t beat a good pair of scrubs for drying time. Not even a bathing suit dries faster. I can’t imagine having to finish work at a birth in sopping wet jeans.

4) They are snazzy. We can express ourselves with the wide variety of options available though I have yet to find TARDIS scrubs…help me out?

5) They are easy to clean. Seriously. It’s like they’re incapable of holding stains. So, I can essentially guarantee that I will look professional.

Their only downside? Those elastic waistbands like to migrate downwards. A lot. So, midwife’s crack might be a thing. Totally worth it, though.

What are you thankful for this fine fall day?

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator, Student Midwife

30 Days of Gratitude, day 10: Time Off-Call.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

There is nothing a doula or a midwife looks forward to more than time off-call throughout the year.

Since we have chosen this line of work, you won’t often hear us complaining of being on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year round. Yet, this work is demanding. It stretches our minds, our bodies, our emotions, and our relationships. It affects every area of our lives profoundly, and we must make sure we find the balance we need in order to keep ourselves from burning out.

Ideally, we want more than that. We want to thrive in this work, in our personal lives, and in our relationships. So, we schedule time off-call. Here at Preparing for Birth, we choose to set aside two months a year in which we take no clients. We still have prenatal and postpartum appointments, but we will have a glorious 3-4 weeks in which we can turn our phones off sometimes!

We can take time for family vacations, field trips with the kids, or days to just do nothing. We can enjoy more than one margarita if we feel so inclined, and not worry about a late night of karaoke.

For us to be at our best in serving our clients, we must take this time. It is not a luxury. It is a necessity. And we are so grateful that there are enough midwives and doulas in this town to go around, so we are free to take that time off and not worry that any clients will be left without a care provider.

Time off-call. It’s a beautiful thing.

How do you take time off? What are you thankful for today?

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller,
Student Midwife & Childbirth Educator

30 Days of Thanksgiving, Day 4: Midwifery Books

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

I am so thankful for the abundance of excellent midwifery texts that I can use for a self-paced academic study as I walk out my apprenticeship. Without such material, my education as a midwife would be sadly lacking. I value a balance between the experiential nature of my apprenticeship and academic knowledge, because this balance lays a solid foundation for me to establish a safe, healthy practice as a CPM someday.

That said, here is my short review of the very first midwifery text I have finished reading, cover to cover. Next up? Anne Frye’s Holistic Midwifery Vol. 1. All 73-bajillion pages of it.

Heart and Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and BirthHeart and Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by Elizabeth Davis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Being my first ever midwifery text, I am glad for Elizabeth Davis’ writing style. It flowed so well, affirmed so much I have already learned during my apprenticeship, and expanded my knowledge on even the most basic of topics. I think it’s the perfect first book for anyone contemplating whether midwifery could be their calling.

I think it had a good, logical flow, with excellent supplementary charts throughout, as well as a few basic “case study” style stories to illustrate concepts outlined more academically.

View all my reviews

What are you thankful for today?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

30 Days of Gratitude, Day 3: Community

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

thankful 2015 day 2Today, Team Preparing for Birth is grateful for the community of birth professionals and birthing families here. We have a special dynamic in the Colorado Springs area, thanks to a few pioneers of community building here–Desirre Andrews among the most vocal supporters of a unified community for her entire career. She says:

We live in a unique region that has excellent in-person and online connecting points for pregnant and postpartum families. Midwifery care for home or hospital birth is readily available. There are all types of doulas, several educational options, and fantastic lactation support accessible locally.

I’m thrilled to have Preparing For Birth as part of this thriving community since January 2003.

Specifically, Desirre has cultivated a strong community in the Preparing for Birth office space. We share our space with three other midwives and their assistants, as well as childbirth/breastfeeding educators, and a doula. (I’ll save those for another post!)

The four midwives confer regularly, share the client load when needed, and back each other up regularly. This is one of the safest ways to offer home birth, for both our clients and the midwives. Desirre has worked hard to build a solid foundation, and it proved itself invaluable this year. It was a tough year for all the midwives in the office, but they have walked it with grace, unity, and a stalwart courage I have never seen the equal of.

I am proud and grateful to be a part of the community here, and I hope to contribute to its structure as I grow in my own career as a midwife.

It’s Day 3. What are you grateful for today? Share in the comments, and link to your own blog post, if you have one!

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator, Student Midwife