My name is Kayte. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I am a student midwife at the Midwives College of Utah. I began my path to midwifery first under the inspiration of my great-great-great-grandmother, Sarah Indiaetta Young, and her stories of being a midwife on the Arizona Frontier. Second, because my mother taught me to love birth and all that it encompasses. I felt pulled towards the art and practice of midwifery because I feel like it is my calling. I have attended over 50 births in my training, and I am currently taking a (semi) break from attending births to focus on my scholastic endeavors. I hope to be finished with my studies and training by 2015. The following is an excerpt from my journal from December, 2013:
I went to a birth with Renee* last night. She asked me last minute if I could come because her other assistant was sick with bronchitis, so I agreed. This is Alex and Wendell’s first baby. Labor came early for Alex, she was barely 38 weeks and was not expecting this baby to arrive for another two or more weeks. Labor lasted 6 ½ hours—she had her baby at 10:20p. I joined them at their home around 6p and Renee and I helped Alex as she labored on hands and knees, with the birth ball and in a side lying position, but she was most comfortable laboring on the toilet towards the end of her labor. As she transitioned into 2nd stage, we inquired as to where she would like to have her baby. She looked at us and replied, “This is the most comfortable I’ve been all night. I’m not moving anywhere.” So that is where Alex birthed her little baby with her husband at her side, anointing that room as sacred, holy. I was able to catch this little one (6lbs, 5oz) and guide the babe into her momma’s arms. It changes me a little bit: every time I catch a baby and guide her or him to a mother’s arms and a father’s watchful gaze. They did not know the sex of the baby beforehand; they had a girl and named her Olive—her name symbolizing peace, and she surely was the embodiment of peace in her demeanor when she was born. As Alex was recovering after it all, she expressed how pleased she was with the entire experience. I feel happy to hear this. I felt like I had done a good job assisting her. Perhaps I will be a good midwife after all.
This was the first birth for me in 3 months. It reminded why birth is something I have decided to embrace as my life’s venture. Lately, I have been reading several novels about midwifery in preparation for my Midwifery in Literature class, and it has shown me how people see midwifery and birth from the outside. I think it is very important to understand how other people see you in order to help them understand you. It is a lesson in being able to see passed people’s façades, to who they really are. It is what I wish people would do with birth. People consider birth, especially home birth, and choose to only see the risks and every possible danger, and it overwhelms them; it makes them scared. They fear birth, but they do not see it as I see it. They do not see it as my mommas see it. They do not see it as the empowering, sacred experience that it is. Renee once heard the following from a fellow midwife and related it to me, “Every woman must be allowed her moment of vulnerability, and not be rescued from it.”
I wish I could give people that feeling, that moment—the uncapturable moment—when a babe emerges and momma takes hold of her for the first time. Oh! that moment is so, so GOLD. It is the moment a woman becomes a mother, and whether for the first or sixth or tenth time, it a moment to be honored.
Having never had a child myself, I cannot tell you what it means firsthand to be that momma, or to be the recipient of those feelings (the feelings between a new mom and her babe), but as an observer of the moment, I can describe how I see it and how I feel it. It is the closest to God it seems I will ever get. It is the closest to “love unfeigned” that I can imagine. If a word could embody this moment, that word would be “pure.” I see power bursting from a mother the way it should be wielded—with humility and submission to higher powers. I feel a strong presence of Heavenly Mother. At a time when so little is said or taught about our Father-in-Heaven’s companion, partner, counterpart, equal, I feel she is there and she is the ultimate source of the strength and love that abounds at a birth.
Helping women feel safe, powerful and respected is the small, yet significant, work of the midwife because these feelings culture love. I am honored to call myself a midwife.
*Names have been changed
Thank you so much for this, Katye. I also have not given birth, so I suppose I have a different view of it than most women. But i do see it as powerful- probably because I can’t do it. It is a power I do not have, it is a power than only chosen women have, and I celebrate that for them. But I can also understand how frightening it can be. I am glad you addressed the fact that people need to look at the positives of home birth, something that has been explored previously in this series. Before this series, I was unaware of the many safety options and choices available to women in home births. I am glad to be more understanding of this now, and am so pleased that you have found a calling that is so powerful to you, and therefore, empowering to the women you serve.
Thank you for your kind words Spunky
How empowering to have such a long heritage and to carry that on. It truly seems you were “called.”
It is sometimes intimidating, reading my grandmother Sarah’s life history. In a time lacking the practicalities and luxuries of modern times, which so often resulted in losing many mothers and babes, Sarah delivered over 1,000 babies without losing a mother or child. After her training with Ellis Shipp in SLC, she was given a blessing by one of the twelve (which was a common thing to do) in which it was blessed upon her that she would always know what to do. Indeed she tells many stories in which she received inspiration to mix certain poultices or take certain actions to save the life of a patient. I hope I can continue to build on such a special legacy.
It should be mentioned that the pictures courtesy of my dear sister who gave birth to her first little babe at home, 7 months ago.
And they are such lovely pictures.
Apparently your calling is writer. ANd midwife!! Girl, you got a gift! My oh my, that describes so many feelings – mine at my own births, and luckily some of the women who were patient enough to be “vulnerable” (LOVed that!!) at some I doula’ed for. SO envious of your training right now! Your momma and I both just need to gut it up and go back to school for the big-time. Hardest part of being a doula is biting your tongue at so many doctos’s decisions!
So very happy for you, dear girl and truly miss your sweetness. Seems like yesterday we were in Trumbull together. Billy was wrangling Jason and twins and I had Tric in YW. Where did it go?!?!
Press on and God Bless you in your calling!!
Helping women to make informed decisions and supporting them in those decisions, regardless of what they end up deciding, is one of the most important jobs of being a birth worker/midwife. Keep up the good work Keri, and thank you! So many good memories!
Lovely post! I love your descriptions!
I always wanted to be a mid-wife too, but without children of my own I was (am) afraid I could not relate or understand. Your post inspired me to return to my dream … in some way.
Thanks for sharing.
I am a student and one of the midwives I work with is an excellent midwife, who has never married nor had children.