Updated: Jan 7, 2022
Pushed by the waves. That's what I remember feeling as my first daughter was born, and then spent weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She was diagnosed with "Failure To Thrive," and subsequently bi-daily visits from a health department nurse became a regular thing.
She came home from her hospital stay on my twenty-first birthday. The irony of this tiny creature with her child-mother only starting to enter adulthood has never been lost on me. For all intents and purposes I was motherless at the time and was already mothering so many others. Younger siblings, a broken church congregation, my father. There was no guide. I was pushed by the waves of ideas, thoughts, and whatever, whichever nurse or doctor suggested.
There was my own bubbling. My own rustling and moving of my soul. A gurgling of a strength I had no idea was there. My own birthing and becoming. I had no idea what to do with this building, mounting, tidal wave of care that was awakened in carrying, caring, and experiencing my daughters birth. I felt alive. I felt capable of taking the world by storm in protection of my young daughter. I felt dangerous. I needed a guide. A person to ache with me through the sleepless nights and days with a baby daughter who lost weight and couldn’t seem to eat enough. A person who believed me when I resiliently stood my ground that “breast was best” and who held my hand and cried with me at the deep feelings of failure and brokenness I felt as we supplemented her feeding with goats milk. Someone to celebrate the strengths and the waves that bubbled and gurgled and made me feel alive and capable of making brilliant choices for the life that was entrusted to my care.
To have someone name the grief. To be present in the heartache and the pain. To celebrate the excruciating moments of giving up and fighting and giving up again as the waves of labor crash over you time and time again. To hold a hand as chins bear down and life is birthed.—and sometimes death. The honor. The power. The tidal waves of emotions that flow and change a person.
This is what it means to midwife care.