Congrats to ecd, M, and hannah for their awesome comments to the question, “What have you learned about life through being a midwife, doula, women’s health provider, or women’s advocate?” First, a brief note from Patricia Harman, then see their answers below!
“Dear Friends, Boy this one was a hard one! Don’t ask me how I made the choices…what all the women said was so beautiful and wise. I wish I could give a book to each of you. Be well and enjoy the day.
hannah: As a brand new midwife I am very much aware of how much I have yet to learn and I am continually amazed by the way that the women, the community and especially my fellow midwives help me grow as a woman and a midwife. We all carry stories within us and when you listen closely, when you offer kindness and support, when you turn towards compassion and patience you can get a glimpse into the ways we are all unique…and the ways we are all the same. We come from different backgrounds and we may hold different views on things, we all have different challenges, and yet ultimately we all try to do the best we can with the resources we have. When I’m struck by the struggles of a particular woman or a particular family more often than not I find that the simple tools I can share during these times – a kind word, a gentle touch, an open heart, a safe space – are often more effective than all the book knowledge and technology we can offer.
M: For several years, I’ve worked as a lactation consultant at our local health department. What I have found working with women on nearly a daily basis is that every woman is the same, but also different. Some women are happy to be pregnant. Others are not. Some women want to nurse their babies wholeheartedly. Others do not. I try to relate to each mother on an individual basis, hopefully, giving them a sense of support, even though we may have differing perspectives. A commonality that I do find amongst the mothers that I work with locally is a general lack of ownership over their experiences. They seem to be going through a system on small and large levels. Their health care is being handed to them as the only way. Most mothers have not thought about being proactive in their experiences instead of passive. They assume that the hospitals will take care of them with little to no effort from them. When I mention a birth plan, they are surprised. When I talk about the personality of their baby, they take a moment to process that their baby is a sentient being now. I suggest thinking about the kind of pregnancy, labor, and birth that they want to experience and writing that down to give to their birth team. So, what have I learned about life? In life, one cannot just accept things the way that they are just because that is the way it has always been or due to the fear of not being able to change a seemingly larger entity than oneself. One must ask questions. One must seek the answers to one’s questions. We must find our truths and realize them ourselves. Then, we will fully live and be able to love each other because we know and love ourselves.
ecd: Working with female veterans, I’ve been floored at the stories of trauma, loss, grief, and struggle I’ve heard. But I’ve been astounded and am grateful to re-learn and be reminded all the time of these women’s resilience, ingenuity, and determination. All this, even in the face of a system that’s almost always stacked against them. And even in the most desperate of situations, even with the most horrifying of experiences, even while suffering tremendous pain, women are able to give me answers when I ask them “What are your strengths? In what ways are you strong? What’s helping you right now?” They can tell me. They acknowledge what they have and ask in different ways for the help they need. Breathtaking.
Winners, please contact me at email@example.com to provide your address so that you can receive your signed copy! Congratulations!