“Midwife Means, with Woman”
I was 21 years old when I had my oldest daughter. I didn’t know what a midwife
was, I didn’t know what a birth center was, and I definitely had never heard of a
doula. What I did know, somewhere deep inside my developing spirit was that I
could probably have my baby without an epidural. I didn’t take a birthing class and I
agreed to an induction at 41 weeks. I remember the first few contractions after the
Pitocin had kicked in and after my water was broken. The nurse asked me “What
number would you give your pain”? I sat in the bed and shrugged my shoulders,
“I’m not sure, maybe a 5”? The nurse shook her head at me, “You are trying to do
this without any medication? You need to make it lower, because it’s going to get a
LOT worse”. The rest of that birth story goes like many other stories you might
hear, especially surrounding first time, young mothers. I remember my body
bearing down and not knowing what was happening. The nurse quickly escorting
me back towards the bed, I was told I wasn’t coping very well. I needed the epidural.
“Something’s happening!” I pleaded, “Something’s happening”! The fear was all
consuming, no one could tell me what was happening. No one was listening. With a
lift of my gown the nurse would see my baby crowning on my perineum, just in time
for anesthesia to stroll into the room. My spirit crumbled. I was alone.
Life went on for me after that birth. I moved back home with my parents and
went to school and waited tables. I did what I was told, what was expected of me. I
met my husband, we got married, and soon I was pregnant again.
This time was going to be different. I wouldn’t be so loud. I wouldn’t be so
extraordinary. I would do as I was told. I would obey the labor laws of the hospital.
For all of my son’s labor I kneeled on the bed, hands over the head, so I would be no
trouble when they hooked the monitors to my abdomen. I was quiet. I made no
noise. I hit the familiar feeling of chaos that starts transition, and I whispered to my
nurse that I thought I might be 7 cm. “Could you call my doctor, please”? I asked
looking downward. “She knows honey, you still have a while”. “Ok, last time I
transitioned kind of quickly…”, but she had already left the room. It was happening.
Again. No one was listening. Twenty minutes later, when I contained my guttural
moans as best I could, I asked if I could push. But I couldn’t stop. “Your doctor isn’t
here!” came the screams. The running. The fear. The resident. No one was listening.
No one was here. “You aren’t pushing hard enough”! My spirit retreated. I screamed
out as I shoved him out with one mighty push. Alone.
When I found out I was pregnant with my third baby, I considered home birth for
a while, but eventually conceded that I would deliver at the same hospital. With the
same nurses. Have the same kind of delivery. “It’s really ok”, I thought. I’ve done this
alone, I can do this alone.
I was 30 weeks pregnant when I would meet the Nurse Midwife that joined the
practice. The reconfiguration in the middle of my pregnancy didn’t faze me much. It
was the same nurses. At the same hospital. I knew a little bit more about midwives
by now, and went to my first appointment without fear but also without
expectation. “Yes my third baby,” I said. “Oh, I have an older boy and a girl”. The
clock kept running, but still we kept talking. “I want to go natural again”, I said,
wondering when I might get cut short. “Cool!” she responded, her smile warm, eyes encouraging. Our appointments were regular. My comfort kept growing. I confided
in her that maybe I didn’t want to bother with this natural thing again; maybe I
should just get the epidural. I was kind of tired- I don’t think I can do this again. I
don’t think I can do this alone. “You’re going to do it,” she told me. My spirit stirred.
The day she stripped my membranes, she handed me her cell phone number. She
wasn’t on call this weekend, but she would come if I was in labor. The days dragged
on, the cramping came and went, until it no longer quit. I sat in my bathtub generally
miserable, while making what I now know to be the most vague triage phone call
ever. “They haven’t stopped all day, but they aren’t evenly spaced at all”, I
complained. “Well, do they feel stronger?” she asked genuinely. “I don’t know,” I
cried. I was so tired. I couldn’t do it. She listened. She heard me. “Why don’t we just
go into the hospital, and see what you’re doing”. We gathered the older kids, took
them to a friend’s house, and when I still wasn’t at the hospital an hour after our
phone call, I got a text asking if I was still going. My spirit shook again. “On our
way”. The triage nurse called me 6 cm. I was laboring how I usually did, comfortable for the most part, and quiet.
My spirit woke up when I saw her walk into the room. “I just got here,” I thought. “Does she know I just got here? Why is she here?” My mind couldn’t fathom why my provider would be present at the hospital so soon. She sat near me at the end of my bed and looked at me curiously. “Are you having any
contractions now”? “Yes!” I begged. “Yes, this is always how I start. Once I hit 7, I’ll
go super fast”. She listened. She saw me. The story began.
The story of how I asked her to break my water, so no one could question if I was
in labor. How she asked twice to make sure I really wanted that. The story of the
nurse coming into the room to tie me to the monitors, and my midwife gently
grabbing the Doppler and listening while following my movement. The story of her
quietly setting up her delivery table while I leaned over the bed to labor. How she
wrapped my saline-locked IV so I could step into the shower. But then, I felt the
chaos begin. I knew what was coming. I knew it was terrifying. I didn’t want it. I ran.
I ran from the shower, I ran to the bed, I let my voice explode. “I’m scared!” I
shouted. “I’m so scared!” I was alone, but then she followed me. I only remember it
in streaks of light. Her hair flashed behind me. “I know”, her voice at the end of the
bed. She could hear me. My face buried into the side rail of the hospital bed. My body
started to bear down, “NO!” I shouted. That didn’t feel the same- it was sharp and it
shot through my body. Her hand on my leg, “there’s still some cervix there Megan”.
The fear, it built. I couldn’t stop my body, I couldn’t stop the force. “She’s coming!” I
yelled. “I really think she’s coming!” The fear overflowing, blinding everything else,
tears stinging my eyes….
Then, her hand on my hand. Her voice in my ear. “She probably is”. What came
next was the quiet. The peace. The surrender. The pause. Then finally, the push. My
spirit unfolded and blossomed. Then it bloomed. She was listening. I wasn’t alone. I
Who are we?
Cincinnati Birth and Parenting, LLC was founded by Molly Murray, a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. Through this growing company, Molly connects parents with information, resources, and support while also staying committed to building up fellow professionals and connecting them with the people who need their services most.