Going back to High School…..
We walked in to the High School and the first thing we said was, “Well of course our teen mom, Emily, (all names changed) could do birth no problem, she does this every single day!”
What an opportunity we had today. The biology teacher, a beautiful local woman, gave birth to two of her children with us at the Birth Center. Joan caught one, I caught one. (Years apart, of course!) She invited us to her anatomy class to talk about pregnancy, gestation, birth, midwifery and our Birth Center.
fear nervousness gave way to excitement at all the things we could talk about to our captive audience. Here were approximately 25 teens who were forced to listen AND even take notes on my effusive and enthusiastic ramblings about natural birth, undisturbed birth, pregnancy, conception and gosh – anything I wanted to say! Amazing. Usually I only have two teens to talk to!
My apprentice and I sat down yesterday, in between appointments in a busy clinic day to brainstorm ideas and fun activities to make the presentation interesting and engaging. I tried to admit that not everyone loves thinking about blastocysts, cervixes and mucous plugs! We brought tons of props: placentas attached to umbilical cords, multiple pelvises, a baby with a snap for a belly button, old-school flip charts of uteri (I love that word), fallopian tubes and fimbria! We talked about contraception, condoms and pre-ejaculatory fluid!
I said the word vagina multiple times!
It was so fun.
We handed out folded up slips of paper with fun facts written on it. Each kid read a fact, then wrote it up on the board. We talked about the facts…. fun ones like:
Did you know that babies born to moms who ate chocolate every day in the third trimester were happier at 6 months old?
Did you know that an egg lives for 24 hours?
Did you know that 1/3 of all babies are born with the umbilical cord around their neck?
And this is the best. One of our teen moms who had given birth 4 weeks ago with us, came with her boyfriend and baby and shared her birth story. My heart opened so wide to see this young girl, just barely 16, hold her, chubbiest ever, baby with its already long black hair and talk about her contractions. She talked of her birth and said, “It wasn’t that hard, I just let it happen.”
What a message.
I, personally, learned everything from Dr. Ruth. (Anyone remember her?) Every night I would get in bed with my transistor radio muffled under the covers and listen to Dr. Ruth. (And you wondered, mom, why I didn’t mind going to bed so early!) It was an incredible education.
We were asked to come back to 8th period and then again tomorrow. So Rachel and I went to get a coffee on the plaza to evaluate the class and make improvements. I got a foamy chai in my green mug and we split an almond croissant at the sunny window. We asked the women who worked there, a yoga studio owner and teacher and a hipster singer/musician, what they wished they had learned in high school. A fun conversation with input from the various coffee-ordering customers ensued….. (If only I were brave to talk about ALL the suggestions…)
Own it! We want to tell you to own it! Own your birth, your sexual health and life! Be proud, brave and strong. Do not be ashamed of your bodies! Love yourself – feel your power. Even and especially when our culture tries to suppress you!
I am so thankful to live and work in a community that invites its Midwives to come and talk to its teens.