Symbiosis ♥ The Heart & Soul of Midwifery

Here’s another little dose of sacred—a twin birth story from 2010.

Yesterday… a day to remember… I spent the glorious fall day on a little farm near Centreville, Michigan with a group of people beloved to me…

I spent another day in that old farmhouse once, years ago.  In the gloom of a late winter afternoon I sat perched upon the edge of a laboring woman’s bed, a woman twenty years my senior, my own belly filled with baby, holding the woman’s hand and supporting her heaving body while Jean, my midwife and my midwifery mentor, received the woman’s eleven pound, two ounce baby girl.

And so yesterday, nearly seventeen years later, I was again in the rear bedroom of that creaky old home on that familiar, dusty road… crouched upon its chilly floor… supporting the heaving body of another laboring woman, a woman this time ten years my junior. Jean was there with us since we were waiting on two little lives rather than the usual one.

But this time I was the midwife instead of the apprentice. This time the apprentice was one of my babies, my daughter, Hannah, now nineteen years old.

The hours of the morning drifted lazily by, delighting us around midday with the arrival of a tiny baby boy and his tinier sister.

Any birthday is a special day, and a day with two new birthdays is even more special, however, as I walked Jean to her car, we found ourselves rather more moved by the events of that day than we’d expected to be, and we struggled to find the words to express the emotions swelling within our hearts.

Nineteen years of togetherness stood out in that gravel drive, regarding one another in the glow of an autumn evening sun, golden leaves swirling around our heads, settling at our feet… nineteen years of memories, and even more than nineteen years of memories… two lifetimes of memories rising all at once and all together like magic to the surface of the day…

Oh, to find those elusive words…

Whatever am I trying to say?

Yes, here we are in THIS moment… here with THIS mom, with THIS dad, with THIS baby… here in THIS home, at THIS hour, on THIS day… present in THIS living, breathing moment…

…Yet… aware all the while of all our other moments… feeling still the vitality of all our other moments, though years and years may have passed… we feel the life of all those other mothers and fathers and babies ever present with us, perceptible only to us… unseen, but, oh, so real… coming with us to every birth we attend, and at every birth we attend we feel their strong minds and powerful bodies and thudding hearts… we taste their tears… we smell the musky odor of their sweat and their blood and their milk… we hear their whispers and their groans, their exclamations of joy and gratitude and relief…

…And here in THIS moment with THIS family, we feel, really more than we remember all those other remarkable souls we’ve been with over the years of our experiences… we feel the touch of their hands at the smalls of our backs and their breath against our necks as they peer over our shoulders, welcoming with us yet another woman, yet another man, yet another child into the ever widening circle of lives we carry with us everywhere we go.

How we treasure the lessons they’ve taught us!  We understand if somehow we’re good at what we do… if our hands are somehow strong AND gentle, if our hearts are somehow brave AND tender it’s because of the grace and generosity of those others who allowed us to serve them in those past times… those others… our clients, our teachers… our friends…

They usually only hover quietly in the background, but occasionally they surge forward and remind us of the important things… they remind us to be humble, to be grateful, to be generous… they remind us we’re who we are and we do what we do more because of the influence of their lives upon us than because of our own merits or efforts… they remind us to remember how brief we are upon this earth… brief like those swirling, fluttering leaves… meaningful in our moments, but here and gone with one good gust of wind…

So Jean and I shared such a moment together that lovely day, yesterday, the past flooding in to splash about and mingle with the present… creating a new memory, a new experience to learn from and to cherish… dampening our eyes as we bid one another goodbye…

Symbiosis…

Photograph by IStock

Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author

Books by Kim:

Homebirth: Safe & Sacred

A Midwife in Amish Country: Celebrating God’s Gift of Life

Nourish + Thrive: Happy, Healthy Childbearing

One Little Life at a Time: Recommendations + Record Keeping for Aspiring Homebirth Midwives

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