Two days ago my daughter Leah gave birth in the Centennial Farm that is her home in Northern Michigan. Her labor was quick and powerful. Her baby boy is strong and beautiful. She was surrounded by her beloveds and her midwives.
Forty years earlier I gave birth to her, at home, in a handmade house her father and I built, just one mile over the hill—as the crow flies—from where Leah lives now. It was another quick and powerful birth, beautiful baby, surrounded by beloveds and midwives. Life keeps cycling through the seasons of our lives, returning us to our roots.
At the end of the auspicious day my grandson was born, I came home, toasted the new mama, papa, big sister, and baby boy with my husband and a bottle of good wine, and walked outside to catch a magnificent sunset.
I reflected on so many blessings in my life. I also thought about how quickly time moves. I thought … wasn’t it just yesterday I gave birth to my baby? And today, she is giving birth to her own child.
Last week I also gave birth to a collection of stories about my life’s work. My new book is The Midwife Matrix, Reclaiming Our Bodies, Our Births, Our Lives. My book tells the tale of a professional life that spans four decades. It is part memoir that chronicles events throughout my forty-four years as a midwife practitioner and leader; part scholarly treatise on the alarming state of maternity care in America; part cultural narrative on what has to change in order for our healthcare system to skillfully and compassionately serve the needs of all our people.
In these strange times of deadly pandemics, social upheaval, and radical uncertainty, my book is a call to action to bring our best selves to the task of revolutionizing a healthcare system that is profoundly failing women and newborns. But my book also addresses much larger and provocative questions about how to live a more healthy, wholesome, connected, and compassionate life, in which all people are able to equitably access the resources and abundance of our society.
On the day my grandson was born, as I stood on the hillside watching the sun go down in a blazing flame of gold, watching the clouds turn magenta, lavender and indigo, I recalled moments from my daughter’s birth earlier that day. And I was at peace. I was filled with gratitude.
And I know this in my bones. It’s not tricky to create new paradigms for caring for one another that serve the needs and fill the souls of each person, both givers and receivers of care. But it does take time. It does take intention. It does take investment. It does take willingness to do things differently than we are doing them now.
Each time I witness a person giving birth on their own terms, in their own time, in their own way … and each time I see caregivers willing to support the right of birthgivers to seize their self-determination … the more hope I feel that ‘change is gonna come.’