The room is sticky with heat, silent sweat drips down my back making a puddle of the waistband of my scrubs. I let go of a breath I didn’t realize I was holding and shift awkwardly from leaning on one knee to the next. The sun streaks through the window, and stale air lightly blows against the curtains. I push up my glasses which seem to be unable to stay on my nose which is speckled with perspiration. The woman that kneels inches from me grips the bed, knuckles going white, her face is pressed into its plastic cover. Her dark hair is plastered to her forehead, she buckles under the pressure of another contraction. The Midwife who is crouched behind her mumbles some form of encouragement. Again and again, she takes the burden of bringing this baby into the world. We continue to encourage her pushing and she grunts in pain and determination.
Focused, I watch as two little eyes make their way into the world followed by a pout that only babies being born seem to make. The rate at which the head is born is enough for concern and those in charge ready themselves. With a clean towel in one hand, and the other applying pressure…it takes one last rush of pain and exertion for two arms, a perfect torso and belly, legs and 10 toes to follow.
Without a second even passing I throw my towel over babe, her cord thick and pulsing inches from my hands. I grab ahold of her little foot and rub vigorously attempting to stimulate her. Someone takes over rubbing her down. You can hear the Mother’s happy breath and sigh that always seems to follow birth, it says to me “oh it’s over! my baby is here”.
“Come on baby, give us a cry” someone breaks the silence.
I stand, some hands me a an alcohol swab and pre-drawn needle of Pit. My gloved hands grab these articles confidently, and to my surprise I admister the shot without shaking. Again I push my glasses up and make myself busy, changing gloves and moving out of the way for others to take over the situation that at the time needed supervisors and not students to handle.
But…I’m not a Midwife.
The lesson I feel that has been weighing upon my heart since my first few births is this simple statement: I’m not a Midwife.
How could I have been so blindsided to not see that I had let this simple yet precious dream become my only identity?
Don’t get me wrong! I know I belong in the birth room. I’ve never felt so useful in my life. My natural calm reaction and ability to swallow my heart unlike in any other situation in life, has shown me that. But I don’t want to be “just” a Midwife. I’ve realized like a sharp slap to the face that I am so much more than who I am during a birth. I am so much more than a “Midwife”.
For those at home that cheer me on and say “wow I could never do that” although your intentions are good, it makes me squirm. Yes, I suppose it’s a skill to be admired…but besides my love for Midwifery do you know me?
Do I know who I am, without Midwifery?
It’s like I’m back in middle school fumbling my way through life, asking the same question I used to when I would stare at myself in the mirror before class. It’s so cliche, but who am I? I’ve been perusing Midwifery wholeheartedly for the past 3 years, it’s all I’ve worked for and desired. If you were to take it away from me I think I would be rather lost. So I’ve decided to start that journey myself. I walk into a birth confident in my training and excited to learn, but not on the foundation that this is all I stand on.
If I were to stand on Midwifery alone, I would crumble. I’d fall so fast. Like a landslide all the work I’ve put into this career would wash away. What would I do when I make a mistake? (And that day is coming). What would I do if I had to put my career on hold and I dunno…let life happen? (Ahem, I’m getting married…) I don’t have these answers yet. I’m not sure what I would tell you, but this I know. I’m here in the Philippines to allow Jesus to remind me of my TRUE identity. I ask him every morning how he might define me, what he might have for me.