Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tell Me Your (Mid)Wife Story

One of the things that I get to do at Union Coffee is help to coordinate the Naked Stage – Union’s almost-every-Friday storytelling experience where people are invited to tell their real story – without notes, props, or screens.  In other words, naked.  I’ve heard many stories over the last nine months.  Some that brought me great laughter, others that brought me great sadness, stories that made me think, stories that challenged assumptions, stories that called me to deeper faith in God and in humanity’s innate call to goodness.  The other week the topic, curated by Union’s pastor Mike Baughman, was “Tell Me Your Wife Story”.

I took the stage to tell a wife story.  I have a few wives in my life … My wife.  And our midwives.  The term ‘midwife’ might seem a little foreign to our 21st century ears, but what my family has found in our group of midwives is something sacred, something beautiful.  Here’s an abbreviated, not word-for-word writing of the story I shared a few weeks ago.


Way back in 2011, my wife and I made the decision to begin the process to move back to Texas, while also deciding that we were ready to expand our family.  Great things to do at the same time, right?  Serendipitously, we both found work the fulfilled our callings in ministry in the DFW area AND when it came time to make the move back home, we made the move while being around eight weeks pregnant.  So, when we landed my wife had to hurry up and find an OB practice to get that whole prenatal care thing started.

And we did find that practice.  And it was grand.  Literally the most efficient doctor’s practice I’ve ever been too.  We NEVER waited (I went to all of the appointments, because it’s the 21st century), and were usually in and out in about 30 minutes.  Even if there was a lot to do … It was always fast.

Which sounds great, unless you like having your questions answered.  Which my wife super does.

Gradually my wife became uneasy about the whole thing … I didn’t, because what do I know?  It came to a head when the doc said she couldn’t walk in the Susan G Komen 3Day at 30 weeks.  You don’t tell my wife she can’t walk 60 miles.  Not ever.  We also began to realize that they weren’t going to be natural birth friendly … Birth without interventions from the outset.  A nonstarter for my wife.  It’s her body.  She gets to have the baby as she feels called (made) to do.

A search for a new practitioner began and she broaches a strange idea … How about midwives?

I was all like … Nope.  We don’t need to be having our baby out in some hut in a forest with a lady in a frontier dress and her hair in giant Princess Leia buns bring our first child into the world.

Because that’s who midwives are and what they do, right?

Wrong.  My wife began throwing data at me and childbirth statistics.  On who midwives are.  On birth centers.  On hospitals.  We watched documentaries.  She made me read things.  Until I caved.

Which I usually do, by the way.

She eventually, I say eventually – but the clock was ticking, brought me to a nurse midwife practice at Texas Health Hospital in Fort Worth.  From the first appointment, we were in love with the practice.  It’s a practice of certified nurse midwives.  Not just midwives.  Nurse midwives.  Nurses that have gone on to get another masters degree … In midwifery.

Or, really, bad-assery.

It checked all of my boxes.  Felt safe.  They listened.  They set us up with a class with other expectant parents due about the same time as us.  A place where we could ask all of the questions we needed to ask in the weeks leading up to the birth of our baby.

But, actually, the biggest thing of all, aside from all of my concerns, was that my wife could bring our son into the world the way she felt called to do.  Under her own power.  Under her own control, as much as possible.  Safe, yes, but as she was made by God to do it.

It’s weird to say that it’s a ‘different’ way to bring a child in the world.  Midwives have been introducing babies to the world since … ever.  And … this isn’t a slight on modern medicine, or OBGYNs.  Doctors ARE wonderful.  Doctors ARE available to us any time we need them.  And if we need them, we LOVE them.

But … my wife found a freedom from our midwives that she didn’t feel before.

Through them we also found community.  Other people making different choices for their children, people that don’t look like crunchy-granola-hippies.  Although, there were some of those.  A class of people that weren’t afraid to ask the questions that we were afraid to ask.

When it came time to have our baby, a midwife named Candis shepherded us through the process.

“Dad, put your hands here.”
“Mom, push, now.”
“Take your breaths … Move here … Sit there … There’s his head … Every pain gets you closer to meeting your baby.”

My wife was able to bring our son into the world under her own power.  I can’t minimize the strain, the pain, the work my wife did to bring him into the world.  There were no interventions – but our midwife would have called on them if they’d been necessary.  It’s was unreal as a husband.  As a born fixer, I couldn’t fix this.  I could only support her as she needed.  I didn’t take my eyes off of the whole process.

I saw some things I’ll never unsee … But beautiful for the result.

And, now, we’re back with them.  Not five years later, pregnant, we found ourselves back with our midwife family.  These ladies that enable women to be superheroes.  We’re 31-weeks pregnant as I publish this and I find myself marveling at this different, ancient, kind of care that we’re receiving.

It’s relational.  It’s personal.  It’s life-giving.

We’re with an extended family of people that love our questions, hear our stories, and encourage us on our path to expand our family.

As a pastor in a church of young people, who’ve often felt that the church doesn’t love their questions, hear their stories, or encourage them to expand their faith, I couldn’t be more encouraged by the care our midwives have shown to us.

My wife also managed to walk 54 of 60 miles in three days, 30 weeks pregnant.

We can learn so much from how midwives help mothers bring new lives into the world.