Midwifery and The Calling
Midwives will say they have a calling. To serve women, to serve the Divine, to serve their community. It is strong, it is deep and it cannot be denied. We are servants, protectors, and guides. We see deeply into the birth process, and connect with mother and baby in ways that often even surprise us. We fall in love with our client families and we miss them when they move on even as we celebrate their amazing experience.
I have heard midwives say that they can’t NOT be a midwife, and this is true for me. We would wither and feel fragmented if not given the opportunity to be with women at birth and partake of that intense, glorious and primal moment. I have never heard anyone speak of another occupation in this way, except perhaps being called to the priesthood or ministerial service. My own calling is definitely spiritual. It allows me to feel connected to the world in a way that no other occupation can provide.
Is this calling just a desire to help others? Is it for “birth junkies”, as we affectionately call ourselves, someone who will go to a birth anywhere, with anyone, just to be there? Or can this calling be truly Divine, an innate spiritual sense that this is our purpose for being on the planet? That our incarnation is for serving others, for God, for Goddess, for Earth Mother or Birth Mother?
Midwives often have amazing stories of how they came to midwifery. Training for years, traveling great distances, even going to other countries in order to receive their credential and their defining experiences. In the beginning, I had attempted to find a program to attend and found three. One was referred to me by a doula friend. One I wrote to out of the back of a book but my letter was returned to me as the program had closed. The third also referred by a friend. When I compared the three, I realized they all were run by the same woman! The logo was the same on all paperwork. I had been ready to apply to nursing school to get my CNM, but when I saw that I was “directed” to this woman three separate times and through separate sources, I just knew that it was my path.
She had one spot left.
The tuition was the exact amount of my recently received severance pay.
Clearly, I knew what to do.
I spent the first 18 months of my apprenticeship traveling 150 miles both ways to work with a practicing midwife. I drove 250 miles each way to school once a month. When I had to end that apprenticeship, I was so fearful that I would not find anyone to complete my training. Then a door opened and I found a fabulous team of midwives, and a community of midwives, and not only completed my training but went far beyond what I had ever expected.
Midwives have traveled to the Philippines, to Africa, to Haiti, to Guatemala, and many other foreign countries in order to follow their passion. These women have been blessed with the experience of attending women in other cultures at birth. They have shared wisdom with the traditional birth attendants on those cultures. It is so different from us here in the United States! These midwives are called to improve maternity care on a global level, and to teach women that they can achieve much more than they ever expected. We have a responsibility to reach out to these women and find a way to bring what we know to them. I honor these midwives, and the women they serve, and hope to be among them someday.
Whether you are a midwife, a doula, an apprentice or student, a mother thinking of following this path, know this: it will change you. There is no way to do this work and not be touched by love, compassion, despair, fear or joy. It is a journey of self-discovery that lasts a lifetime and you are being called to change and grow, for the good of all. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Christian faith, Judaism, Paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc that guides you and feeds your spirit. Following a spiritual path is an experience that fosters growth, expands consciousness, provides teaching for the soul, and creates a sense of connection. It is the act of choosing these things consciously and knowing in the deepest part of you that the Divine answers you back.
This is what midwifery gives to us. It is not a job. It is not a career. It is simply who we are and who we must become.