What if. . .

Last night, I sat down on the floor in my daughters’ bedroom and cried.  My heart is broken.  Reading the letter from the NC OB/GYN society was like a punch in the stomach.  Coupled with this picture I saw on Facebook,

I felt like nothing we are doing is going to be enough to truly change things.  If midwives cannot find their way to forgiveness and understanding until 2030, I don’t see how we can possibly get anywhere with improving maternity care in the US.  What will maternity care look like in 2030, when my children are thinking of having babies?  I can’t bear to think that it will still be like it is today – with care providers fighting amongst themselves over the ‘quality’ of their educations, while mothers and babies suffer the consequences of a system based largely on fear and ego.

After I wiped away the tears, I went to get out the stencil we cut out of plastic for painting our logo on car windows to prepare for Friday’s event.  In order to protect it, I had placed it between two pieces of poster board.  One of the poster boards was an original protest sign from nearly three years ago, a bit of our past.  The other was this collage, a vision of our future:

In January of 2010, a group of fed up mamas sat down in the living room of our midwife friend and flipped through a stack of magazines looking for images that spoke to us.  We were envisioning what our future birth center would be like.  And here’s what we came up with. . .

Imagine a big, wooded campus with two buildings sitting next to a stream or lake with a path that meanders next to the water.  One building is the birth center where all women go to see midwives from the time they start their period to the time they stop having one.  All pregnant women come here to see the team of CNMs and CPMs, and have the option to give birth at the birth center or at home, only seeing an obstetrician if they become too ‘high risk.’  Centering – group pre-natal exams – is also an option for everyone.

The second building is the wellness center.  A team of practitioners (social workers, massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc.) have their offices here.  There is also a large room for yoga, childbirth education classes and various support groups.  A self-esteem class for young girls is taught after school. At age 15 each girl is paired with a doula with whom they attend births. While doing this they can see what their bodies are capable of and will experience being at a birth before they, themselves, give birth for the first time.  The girls will also attend the New Parent Support Group so that they can see what having a baby is like, first hand.  Maybe they will want to sit in on the Wise Women sessions to learn from their elders. . .

What if women could go to a place like this from the time they were babies?  A place where women supported one another, where young women learned from old women?  What if we all witnessed women at the most powerful time of their lives – giving birth – and were not afraid?  What if?

8 thoughts on “What if. . .

  1. I LOVE YOU Kirsti…thank you for all you do, your heart is GOLDEN! with you in this til the end (and it’ll be before 20damn30 my friend!)

  2. What if… 2030 is _how long_ they think it will really take to get legislation passed in every one of the blinkin’ 50 states. What if… the forgiveness you imagine is being put off has actually _already happened_ and that’s what brought the motion. What if… your dreams are already come true?

    • That’s about 2.7 states changed per year. I agree that it feels like a long time to wait and a shorter goal would be more energizing. The fact that the motion exists at all is encouraging to me.

      • Encouraging yes, but in the state of NC things are not sunshine and lollipops between the midwives. And obviously the physicians are downright hostile. . just makes it hard to see the declaration to “explore” collaborating as a reason to jump up and down.

  3. What a beautiful vision and what a peaceful and supportive idea for a place of care. But, as a homebirth CNM who is used to taking the surroundings placed in front of me and the woman (of any age) complete with all of the baggage she brings to our relationship, I can tell you that the site is just not that important. Is it beautiful? Oh yes. Would we all like women’s health care to look like this? Certainly. But the relationship, the friendship a midwife establishes with a woman and her family is going to lead to that birth experience I know can make a heart sing long after the work is done.

    Midwives and midwifery organizations are going to continue to be separated by walls of distrust and rhetoric until we all realize midwifery is a profession worthy of education and skills that embrace the science and art of our knowledge and our singing hearts. Of course that does not need nursing as an entry, but it does need education as an entry. We will never have the physician organizations, the politicians, and the state laws behind us until we acknowledge and legislate for ourselves that, in this country, women and babies matter! They matter too much to allow unlicensed practitioners to provide them health care, they matter too much for midwives, the professionals uniquely suited to bringing the best care, to infight about them, they matter too much for lawmakers to ignore them.

    If we “professionalize our profession” and bring our professional selves to our lawmakers, we can rightly ask them to change our laws. And, if your amazing vision of this warm health care campus for women should come into being it will be a model for all of our states. Meanwhile, I promise you that our care can diminish the fear and lead to a safe and beautiful birth even when plans go astray.

  4. I too found this statement encouraging. I know things feel really hard right now in our state, but I remember sitting in that living room creating that collage, and I will forever remain bopeful that out of the chaos, great things, beautiful things will come.

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