Our catch class was at our midwife’s country home. Three other expectant families gathered in her living room, shoes off, snacking and sipping, enjoying the quiet of the fading sunset. Our midwife Tosi coached us through what to expect and though this was my 2nd class (our son was born at home) I was struck by how much I didn’t catch the last time around: how to deal with the cord wrapping around the child (not a big deal), breech births, sounds as indicators of labor, when to call the midwives, and more. This class was as stark contrast to the clinical coldness of the Kaiser birthing class where we were marched into a room with dozens of other families, to be shown a movie. Hollywood tells us that birth is terrifying process, a woman screaming, doctors rushing, and medical equipment beeping and humming in a race against time. Our home birth was a gradual process, beginning with the visits from our midwife (yes, try getting a doctor to do that!) to her visit the day of the birth. No alarms, no beeping, no noise, just the sounds of my wife laboring and the midwives in hushed tones helping her along the way. Midwives in general, and our midwives in particular, are women with so much experience and wisdom about birthing that it amazes me that more folks don’t use their services. Women have been giving birth since we have been human, and midwives tap into that large body of knowledge and celebrate it. They don’t mute it with machines, or negate the process with drugs, but rather explain every step of the process to explain – ‘this is why your body is doing what it is doing’ to the mothers, and to the anxious and sometimes paranoid fathers. These midwives are a living connection to a time that isn’t out of date, but more vibrant and relevant than ever. After the class was over we said our goodbyes. I stood on a quiet road, to my right a creek, to my left a farm field, above me the Easter moon shining down on a glorious Holy Thursday evening.
In the dim moonlight, I made out the figure of our midwife as she pushed a cart containing our birthing tub down an earthen path to my truck. Another father helped me load the tub onto my truck, and at that moment I was transported to a strange time and place, not the past, since I had in my pocket my iPhone, nor the future, as it’s always in shadow, but a combination of all of those eras. If I close my eyes I can remember that quiet road, and I’m writing this so I can never forget it. As we drove home the scenery changed from farm fields bathed in moonlight, to the highway, to concrete, steel and neon civilization. Those surroundings however, don’t matter. From midwives disobeying the Pharaoh’s order to slay the first born children (Exodus 1:15-16) to modern women discovering the joy of bringing new life into their homes amongst family, mothers reclaiming the birthing experience with the help of midwives are keeping alive this link from the past, which stretches to the future and weaves itself through our present. I can’t help but smile knowing we are a small part of this rich tradition. We are blessed. ~ By Jose Galvan, father of 3