Saturday, March 12, 2011

The villagemidwife e-book series

I am writing
To record my knowledge
To tell my stories
To teach others

I am a midwife. My words, thoughts and actions have been formed over many years and a unique set of experiences: the world into which I was born; the mother who bore me; the family that nurtured me; the towns and communities that have allowed me to be me, and this wide open land and its people.

I like to think that these are my thoughts, yet I know that much of what I say is my own filtering and organising of what I have absorbed from those around me. Although I am the speaker, I am not the source.

Midwifery belongs to women. The midwife is ‘with woman’, a companion for a distinct and definable childbearing event, in a special partnership. Midwifery does not belong to theorists, although the clear expression of the ‘with woman’ partnership by thinkers has helped set great value on this simple phrase.

Midwifery does not belong just to midwives. It’s women’s business, evolving and moving with women, in our own time and space, along with our joys and sadnesses, our changing bodies, our children who are sometimes wonderful, and sometimes bring us near despair, and our hopes always for a better future.

This series, including Midwifery from my heart and Daughter, Mother, and Midwife, is about the life I know and love. It’s from my heart because I have learnt it, deep in my own life, and in the homes and lives of the women who have taken me with them. It’s midwifery because it’s ‘with woman’. Its stories are about daughters, mothers, and midwives, and much more.

In writing this account I am holding on to normal birth. ‘Normal’ in the sense of birth as our bodies expect it—the physiologically normal event of parturition. I consider normal birth something worth holding on to, even protecting, in a world that has to a great extent forgotten that we are wonderfully made. Midwifery from my heart, and Daughter, Mother, and Midwife include thoughts on the way a midwife acts to protect and promote the normal processes in birthing and nurturing our babies.

Midwifery from my heart and Daughter, Mother, and Midwife are also about a professional discipline that is being constantly checked and re-checked against critical contemporary scientific understanding. Midwifery from the heart can only continue when head and heart are working together.

I hope, through my stories, to record my knowledge and to teach women and midwives about birth and life through a maieutic learning process, the way a midwife teaches and learns.

Women ask me, “How will I know when to call you?” “How will I know where I should be; what I should do?” “How will I know my baby’s alright?” and I tell each one how others have known, and how I have known.

A great deal of my midwifery knowledge is bound up in stories. The core players appear over and over again: the woman, the child, and the midwife. I tell my story in which I am the midwife, and the other participants have special relationships to me. I also have a story of when I bore four children, and I have some of the stories passed to me by my mother and my grandmothers, my sisters and friends.

In story telling I am an artist: a painter or sculptor or potter or craftswoman. Life’s events and real people are the materials from which the piece is fashioned. As with any creative work the skill of the artist draws together the elements that in themselves could not achieve such a product.

Mothers have entrusted their stories to me, as they have told me, often with tears, of their own experiences. I weave these stories in with my own, often drawing together parts from different sources, and the picture emerges. Heart, hands and mind interpret skill, actions and knowledge in this most basic and intimate event in life’s journey.

In writing, I am the older woman who has experienced life, given birth, seen my own children move into their independent lives, and begin their own families. I have taken up the role of guardian of childbearing, accompanying women into mothering, in supporting families, and watching over the little ones who carry our creative wealth and our lives into the future.

The third e-book in this series, Holding on to Normal Birth, is being prepared for release.

Anyone would would like a copy of either or both e-books, emailed as .pdf files, please contact me joy[at] . The only fee is a request that the purchaser make a small donation (minimum $10) to a charity of your choice, providing relief and help to those who are more needy.

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