Category Archives: celebration

Catch! Who’s really delivering this baby, huh?

This weekend I caught my first baby!

I’d attended a number of births before this one, first as a doula and now as a student midwife, but this was the first one where I had my hands poised ready and caught the baby as they were born.

I “caught” the baby. I didn’t “deliver” it – if anyone delivered this baby, it was the mother. It’s a simple linguistic switch that I see other (often radical) midwives doing and it’s something I try and keep in my mind. The language we use shapes the world as we experience it. and I want my midwifery practice (and the wider world I practice in) to centre the people giving birth. They are the ones doing the work of birthing the baby. In my mind, to centre the midwife and say that they deliver the baby risks disempowering the person actually giving birth.

(I went to a talk last week by hypnobirth educator Katharine Graves, and she pointed out how the first time many of us hear the word “deliver” is in the Lord’s Prayer which asks that we be delivered from evil. And then after that it’s mostly a word we hear used for parcels! It’s a phrasing left over from a world where doctors were in charge of birth as a medical process, and they *did* deliver the babies. And that’s not something I want to replicate!)

Not everyone agrees with this talk of “catching” babies. I was discussing my choice of language with my mother, and saying how I talk about midwives catching babies rather than delivering them. And she told me, in no uncertain terms, that she felt the midwife delivered all three of her babies and she did not find that language to be disempowering at all. And I am *glad* – I wouldn’t want her to feel disempowered at the time of my birth, or at any time! I’m not about to start arguing with her that it was in fact her delivering the baby, because the whole point is to empower the people giving birth – something which seems to have happened here despite her narrative having the traditional language of midwives delivering babies.

But in future wouldn’t it be better not to take that risk with the words we use? Not to hope that the people giving birth will feel empowered and centred in the process despite us telling them that we are the ones delivering their babies, the ones doing the work?

New moon, new season, & new placement!

Today feels pretty special.

It’s a new moon in Pisces AND it’s the spring equinox. A new moon and a new season, and – even though I couldn’t see it because of the clouds – that moon totally passed in front of the sun a couple of hours ago giving us a total solar eclipse.

It is against this perfect backdrop of potential that I start my labour ward placement, with my first of three night shifts tonight.

I’m pretty excited.

The end of February marked the half way point of my training, but I didn’t feel able to take stock and celebrate at that point. I still had an exam looming, taking up all my energy, and there didn’t seem much to celebrate. It was hard. Then once the exam was done the last week of teaching rolled into the first week of placement with only a weekend to pause. But a happy accident with the rota meant my first shift on the week wouldn’t be until the Friday night – tonight – giving me the gift of this week to reflect.

I have spent the week getting ready. Spring cleaning the house, sorting through my record collection and my zine collection. Finding new homes for the things I don’t need. Getting the garden ready to grow vegetables, planting seeds indoors and crowding them on to the tiny sunny window sill in the living room. Clearing out our converted basement so my housemate and I can use the space to do yoga in there together because it is hard to survive & thrive as a midwife with the little core strength I have. Getting a new vacuum cleaner and being impressed and horrified and the amount of dust and cat hair it sucked up in its first trip around our little two bed terrace house. Creating physical space and in the process creating head space for what comes next. Which got me to a place where I could look back on how far I have come.

It can feel a bit like I have had to move heaven and earth to simply get to a point where I could start, and then continue, to train to be a midwife. Quitting my stable job with the local authority to go back to college. Moving to another city to be closer to campus and the hospital. Another house move and then another to finally put down roots in a house share with another student midwife that will see us through to the end of our training. The end of an unsupportive long term relationship which resulted in a loss of queer community for the best (worst) part of a year.

But I haven’t had to do it alone. Each time I moved house, I moved into a new home with friends. Countless friendships with both midwives and non-midwives have been there to help me when I needed to either talk more or think less about midwifery. One friend provided a one-woman pep squad to cheer every time I wrote a blog post, after months of talking about how I was gonna start writing about the way my politics and my practice inform each other. The end of the unsupportive relationship gave space for my other, more important romantic relationship to flourish as it became my only one. I’ve had family both in this city, and on the other end of a skype call when I have needed them. I’ve also been lucky enough to have several excellent hair cuts during this time. It has been hard. But it hasn’t been impossible.

But I needed this week, and the space it allowed me to make, to realise that.