New Midwives

This last week marked the test date for the NARM exam, the final test that a midwifery student must complete before she can apply for her NARM Certified Professional Midwife credential.

Student midwives, ah what a grand thing. They have brought such joy to me as I have progressed in my journey in midwifery. But some things are just impossible to explain to bright eyed energetic midwifery student who wants to pursue midwifery. Of course going into midwifery I was hazed as well as the next, but I still had no idea what I was walking into. You hear all manner of stories when you are beginning midwifery. Because we all know, midwives tell stories. If you have the chance to hang out with a group of midwives, chances are they are telling stories.And the subject material we have for our stories rarely blends well with dinner conversation, not that it ever stops us from discussing it over dinner. A group of midwives eating at a restaurant is about as subtle as a flock of parrots in a library.We eat, we tell stories and the uproar that follows is rarely low on the decibel scale. I’ve often wondered what the other patrons of a restaurant think when the midwives get up and leave.(Honey, what WERE those ladies talking about?)

As a student I was told stories of midwives who worked long hours and the sheer ‘slap happiness’ that can happen after 40 + hours of working in a day. But then I lived those hours and I was the one slap happy, who slurred her words and tripped over her own feet. I earned that story.

You hear midwives talk about having car trouble on the way to births, but then I was the midwife who had a client in labor going fast.I get all loaded up and in my car to peel out for the birth. I hear an unfamiliar thumping as I drive down the road heading for the highway. The thump, thump, thump, just can’t be good. So, in the midst of my hurry I get out of the car and the students hop out. Together we examine the underside of the car. ‘Is this piece of rubber supposed to be hanging off the tire like that?’ Yeah, this is not the time to be needing new tires. Turn around and go back to find a another car, jump in and head out trying to recover the time lost discovering your tire has developed road-pattern baldness. Finally, you make it to the client’s home, forget all manners and barge into someone’s home, all the while hearing the sound that the baby is fast approaching. Within 20 minutes, I was smiling at a new mother and baby enjoying their first moments together and wondering how quickly I could get new tires. Can’t quite explain the way that feels, you can only live it, and tell the story.

Some defining moments in a midwife’s training include the first times she finds a baby’s heart rate on her own, or assesses dilation without a preceptor, the first time she discovers she knows the difference in a head down baby and a breech baby, the first time she gets a primary client of her own, the first time she is the first person to touch a new life as it emerges fresh from the womb. No one can tell you the way it feels the moment you get the envelope that contains the result of your final test. And certainly no one can prepare you for the first time you attend a woman all on your own and your preceptor is home in bed because you have completed your training and bear the letters CPM after your name. No one can tell these stories for you, they are a story all your own. Just as each baby has its own birth story, and each mother embraces new life in beautiful uniqueness, each midwife has her own story.

So tonight I congratulate the new midwives who’ve just taken their final test. Your journey to midwifery has been different, for some attaining to this has been a relatively smooth road, for others the journey has been rocky, with uphill battles. Your journey to become a midwife may be ending, but your journey in midwifery has just begun. Congratulations! Carry high the banner of midwifery and we look forward to hearing all the stories you’ll tell!