I wonder what it is like to be the daughter of a midwife. Sometimes I hear statements like, “My home away from home is the Birth Center.” Yesterday after a long night and an early morning, Kaya was dropped off at 8ish at a homebirth. After that we went to the Birth Center, she came with me, book in hand. She called down the hall, “Mom – how long will we be here, aren’t you off today?” I said, “I’m just going to settle this mama in, and do one appointment.” Kaya laughed – or was it a snort? Joan said, “Well a midwife’s daughter knows what that means!” I guess that means, “Who knows? I have no idea how long we will be here. Things change every minute!” As Kaya left, she said to our receptionist, “Well! I’m sure I’ll see you later!”
She does well – that Kaya! I can’t be upset with her. Out of 402 births, she only resisted once! Yesterday there was a lot of running around. To a homebirth, to the birth center, home – oh God! Run back, “She’s going fast!!!” Yesterday was the first time, really, that Kaya couldn’t make up her mind of what to do. Usually the plan is in place, and yesterday in my moment of running out the door. (When that phone call comes, I have to speed. It can be intense! A drop everything and run type of deal.) Kaya couldn’t decide whether she should come or stay with our neighbor and make pesto. In her frozen moment, I made the decision for her, brought her and it worked well. But I panicked. I have never seen that reticence. It was different yesterday since it was a homebirth. Usually, if there is no other plan in place, the girls will come to the birth center, settle in, do homeschooling or, if we have a low number of apprentices, help in the birth room. (This only happens if you are Treska and LOVE birth.) Homebirths are trickier. Sadly, we only do about 10 percent homebirths. These last two months, however, the majority of our births were homebirths – and so the surprise calls that happen when Falko isn’t home can be more challenging in regards to the kids.
It worked out well with Kaya yesterday. She had a good book and the home happened to have an 8 week old puppy that needed entertainment. The day was beautiful, crisp, sunny. She sat outside in the courtyard, with the smell of fallen leaves, and an adorable puppy sleeping at her feet while she read. She could hear the familiar birth sounds, the friends and family coming in and leaving the house. The sisters of the mama, who were younger than Kaya, came out and played with the puppy intermittently. She was content, and I was relieved!
Treska loves the excitement of birth, loves the surprise and is always hopeful that she may be able to be helpful in some way. She likes the energy of the birth room, loves the singularity of birth and is happy to sit in the kitchen with the birth bustling around her. Kaya would rather not. She will immerse herself in a book as far away from the birth activity as possible. “It’s not my calling, mom.” She doesn’t like the disturbance and the unpredictability. She likes more routine and structure and I have to really, really hand it to her – because she does so well with the spontaneity of birth. (401 out of the 402 times!) She mentions often, how strange it must be for other kids looking into her life. “My life is very different from that of my peers, mom.” Just the other day she said, “It’s just normal, mom, that you get up and leave a dinner quickly. It’s normal that my mom is on call, but that wouldn’t be normal for other kids. Their moms don’t get up and leave for the night!” I think she is just realizing that this is unique to her family. She’s grown up with birth, being on call, surrounded by midwives and apprentices, and pregnant bellies. Her second home is the birth center. I started my first internship when she was 5 months old and still nursing. Every time there was a birth my milk would come in and flood the front of my pink scrubs (in Germany we wore scrubs). The oxytocin was stimulated by the cry of the newborn. Kaya has truly grown up immersed in birth. It’s the most natural thing in the world for her!
It has been a particularly busy week. And we only have two midwives until November. That means we are on call 24/7 for until then! We’ve only had two births this week, but it has felt like we have had 5. I’ve been gone for a part of many nights this week. Today will be a day of recovery. (I think.) I hope. Yesterday’s (literal) speeding around all day and high emotion stimulated by the pressure of having to move fast, plans almost falling through (don’t even mention the Ski Swap around here….), guilt about not helping with pesto, and tears of JOY when the baby was finally born to a little mama that I had grown very, very fond of. I so wish I could write my birth stories up here and somehow it wouldn’t be a breach of confidentiality. I am privy to amazing stories: Beautiful, heartbreaking, intense, joyous, terrifying, funny, intimate and authentic. I do write them down (sometimes) to tell later. I’d love to write a “Baby Catcher” (by Peggy Vincent) type book when I retire. Oh, well – in my 80s or something. I never want to retire, never want to stop being allowed to be with woman while they birth!
I hope my children will remember:
speeding down dirt roads to the sound of Joan’s voice on the speaker phone saying, “Hurry, she’s WILD!” and packing random food items in a basket to sustain the long nights, the phone ringing in the middle of the night, the automatic check to see if my car is there in the morning, the “where will I be today?” question always posed, the moans and groans of labor, the cries of the newborn, the patience and long hours of crocheting, knitting and embroidery, the nap in the middle of the day, reading outside of someone’s homebirth and the constant hellos my children receive at the Farmer’s Market and Cids by women with big ol’ bellies or little newborns, the gory details overheard in the car or at the table, (Moooooom! Not at the table!) the stack of midwifery and birthing books everywhere in the house, the exhausted mama in bed sipping coffee, the long conversations with my partners discussing all the details of a birth or the clinic day, the ever-changing apprentices
as rich and beautiful. I love this life – I’ll take the high emotion and roller coaster timelines any day over the consistency of a life without birth. I am hoping my daughters will look back and tell the story of their childhood with love, amusement and happiness. Gosh, I hope so!
In the middle of it all – we will harvest our gardens and move forward, enjoy our lives and the excitement of what it brings us every single day.