Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Tao of Midwifery

Pap smear at home, you ask? It’s a long story…

When my husband and I decided that we'd embark on the pregnancy pilgrimage this fall, we also began the discussion about how I'd get prenatal care when the time comes. Since my first women's studies class in high school, in which I read about the many excesses of the “medical model” if birth, I have known that the midwifery model would be the path for me when/if I get pregnant. In fact, becoming a midwife has long been a fantasy of mine; I even did my high school senior project with midwifes and actually attended a birth (but that's another story)! The “birth is not inherently a medical event,” personally-empowered approach of midwives has always made sense to me. For the past fifteen years, I have looked forward to giving birth on my terms, trusting my body, my instincts and my midwife.

Part of this for me is also the opportunity to have a baby at home. I know this takes faith in midwifery to a new level, but the option just seems much more appealing than a hospital to me. Although my husband was freaked by the idea of home-birth at first, talking about direct-entry midwifery and watching Ricki Lake's "The Business of Being Born" documentary helped him to become much more comfortable with the idea. I decided that I should start the process by getting my annual exam at home. So, last July, I researched Los Angeles area midwives and put in a bunch of calls to midwives whom I found interesting (via their websites).

Rebecca of Birth Revolution Midwifery called me back; I liked her phone-vibe, so we made a date for my pre-conception annual exam. When she arrived for that visit, she looked younger than me and was dressed like one of the nouveau-hippies I went to many a bluegrass festival with back in Colorado. When I immediately judged her for her earthier-than-me persona and seeming lack of experience (if she’s younger than me, she must be a babe), I felt old! What was I expecting—a doctor in a lab coat? Actually, I think I wanted to see a wise old crone, ready to counsel me based on her hundreds of years of birth experience. I told myself to stop being a ridiculous romantic and to at least give Rebecca a chance. Just how much wise-woman hand-holding did I have in mind for a basic exam and pap smear?

To be continued…

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