If you have read the comments from the last post, you will find:
“It annoyed me that the two most prevalent trolls on all the homebirth blogs had to put their inane spin on it, but ehh, that’s what they’re here for, I guess.”
Yes, that is what they are there for and I am glad that they are over there. I have since left another comment on Sage Femme, which I am sure will be approved eventually, if not already. I guess I need to clarify and justify some of those things that I have said…not that I REALLY think that I need to, but see my brain is wired differently than most peoples’ brains.
First and foremost, I attack motivation by money, because that’s who I am. I don’t attack the need for a job for money to buy those things such as food and a life of health and safety. However, when you take something like midwifery or coming to the aide of birthing women and then bitch about not being able to make money from it, because of a lack in education or homogeneous education, credentialing, recognition or etc., you are then no better than what we all bitch about — doctors & insurance companies making bank from birth. Let’s face it, birth is HUGE business and why wouldn’t every ‘educator’, lactivist and birth aid want a piece of the pie? Because they should know better, that’s why. Women used to know the village midwife and cooked for her and gave her baskets and sewed blankets and she just did what came naturally to her.
Now let’s try to tackle education. I went to school K – 12, some college (some birth/midwifery related), apprenticeship and empirical knowledge. Do you want to know what prepared me the most and from where I have gained the most ‘knowledge’? From actually doing, seeing, observing, teaching and failing. I have learned by living life and sharing the experience with those whom I have served. That doesn’t mean that I found my way here through flailing and kicking and with an infant’s understanding of how ‘this all works’ (actually, that is sort of how I got my official start, but that’s another story all together). I was given more than a basic education in an odd sink or swim kind of way from an very kind and loving illegal Mexican granny midwife and then later from Jeannine Parvati Baker. I have been taught more and more as time has gone on from all the wonderful midwifes and sage women that I have encountered. But I have learned the most from the women and teenage girls whom I have had the pleasure of sharing their most intimate, powerful and vulnerable moments with. Have I continued to educate myself, yes (I’m passively seeking an ND degree) and will I continue, yes. Does that mean that I am better than some others, yes and there are a ‘shit ton’ more who are better than me.
Do midwives NEED a unified/homogeneous education? If I say yes, then I probably wouldn’t have found myself where I am today and then I would be one of those who are perpetuating that lie that sage knowledge and heathen practices have no merit, are out of date and unscientific. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for a hell of a lot of unscientific practice — in all parts of life. If I say no, then I am now one of those heathen sages.
You can not truly measure what a person knows…you can see how many questions they can get right, you can see if a surgeon knows where to cut for a certain procedure (which is vitally important), but you can not measure what a person knows. There have been so many times that I have been moved to do certain things that I was never taught, but it turned out to be the right thing to do. There are certain things that I have been taught to do and could/would be taught to do (if I went to a formal educational institution) that I believe are truly unnecessary and usually dangerous when combined with pregnancy/childbirth. Some of my beliefs are backed by scientific studies and opinions, some by empirically learned and ‘obvious’ connections and then some are truly from the gut/heart and I might even go as far as to say from the Universe and it’s Great Architect (make of that what you will). Am I against those midwives wanting/seeking to become CNMs? No, I am not against them, but I am against much of their educational material, the rules and limits set on them by a patriarchal system of medicine and many of them continuing to perpetuate the practice of unnecessary and often dangerous interventions used against pregnant and birthing women. I am not saying that every one them wants to do these things, but is needing to be able to bill insurance companies and not losing your license because you stood up for something worth the damage/trauma/fear you might cause another human being(s)? Great, you can travel to rural settings and care for people who are far from hospitals and clinics, and you will in theory help less fortunate women, but all with the stipulation that your hands are truly tied from doing at times, what you KNOW is right. You might have a legal obligation to your license and to your overseeing hospital/physician, but you have a much stronger MORAL/ETHICAL OBLIGATION to honor a pregnant/birthing woman and her child(ren) with the rights and with the sanctity of living. Being right, being legal and begin safe are not always friends.
Credentials…again, what the fuck does a piece of paper mean? You can afford a license and it’s fees. You can pass a test that most people can if they prep well enough. You can answer to regulations — because, let’s face it, I don’t know of a credential (specifically a ‘medical’ one) that doesn’t come with it limits and regulations. I am sure we have all experienced a professional who was licensed and credentialed who didn’t know which way was up and we thought to ourselves, ‘ this guy went to school?’. I know to my mother, when she completed nursing school, her credentials meant that she had completed something and that she had accomplished a goal that took her far to many years to reach. I know that when my aunt passed the medical boards exam or when my uncle passed the bar exam that they were equally as proud at completing something. It has brought them joy and it has brought them pain. I am not trying to discredit a degree and credentials, but you have to be more than a piece of paper and a license fee. You have to BE what the people WANT.
If a group of people need something they will find a way to get it or to create it. That has been the case since man first sprung up on this green planet. If a community (be it a geographic community or a ideological community) wants a midwife and needs a midwife, it will make one. It will elect one. We’ve almost always done this, until we started seeing ‘all the possibilities’ in midwifery and then once again when we were practically buried for good. If Jane Doe decides that her calling is to be ‘with woman’ and she represents a need and presents the knowledge that the community seeks, then she will become a midwife. If she isn’t what they want or doesn’t answer their questions and leaves them uncertain, then she will either be a terrible midwife or not one at all. Mainstream mentality tends to discredit the average and ‘below-average’ person in its ability to both recognize what it needs and to see it when it presents itself. If, when or unless a woman ceases to have the right to choose when, where, why, how and with whom to be pregnant and birthing, then she should have just that right and it shouldn’t make a damn bit of difference whether the person she picks is certified, educated, recognized or approved by the government or one of it’s subsidiaries. If we are truly mindful of ourselves and those around us, we would see the injustice in a government or other such institution telling us what we can and can not do regarding our bodies…and as far as I am concerned, if and until a baby is birthed or extracted from our bodies, we hold the ultimate power over what is done do it or not done to it. We can debate things post birth later in another time, when I have calmed down from this fire some!
Am I selfish? Yes, you bet your ass I am. I am a self preservationist. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a huge heart and desire to help out as many of my fellow Earth dwellers (both human and non), but if I can’t help myself, then I can’t help you. Could I go and sit through the NARM exam and become a CPM? Yes, with some strings pulled, letters of documentation and the usual hoops for alternate certification. Why then, have I not done it? I don’t want to. I haven’t NEEDED to — it hasn’t been a factor with my clients or where I lived when I started and it’s not a factor where I live now. If CPMs become legal here in PA, I still won’t get certified. It’s the very principle of getting certified that makes someone like me even more legally limited. If CPMs were legal, it would mean regulation and with regulation comes requirements. Midwives required to do this and to do that, whether or not they would do those things without regulation. It would limit certain skills and my abilities to serve clients authentically to their needs/culture/situation or other factors. It would leave a less diversified pool of midwives to pull from. I would have to phase a lot of things with, ‘I don’t require this, but the state makes me insist on such and such or else I can’t practice midwifery or you can’t birth at home with me’. While I am all for and a huge supporter of unassisted childbirth, I don’t think that a mother should be forced into birthing unassisted because the government and its sons have placed ultimatums on community midwives and how they can serve their community. I can not willingly place myself under state reign or campaign for others to be forced to abide by its politics and lobbyist schemes. Unfortunately, in our times, birth is as much political as it is physical and metaphysical.
So, what about low-income, minority and other under served clients? I’m not sure, because that’s who I am serving. I ask a fee for services, but it’s more of a suggestion. My husband would like for it to be a contract! Here’s what I feel I should receive for my time and resources in a perfect world…not what I think they are worth, because at certain times they are priceless. Have I ever been paid the full amount, yes. Have I ever been paid nothing at all, not even something material in exchange, yes — but I knew that this would be the case before I ever agreed to anything. Do I usually receive money, yes; or other compensation, yes. Have clients tried to claim for reimbursement, yes – some have won and others haven’t. Would I get paid more if I could bill insurance companies? No, or maybe a little here and there, but insurance companies expect me to actually DO something in order to get money from them. I can’t just sit on my hands in another room and bill for my time. I would have to DO things and gasp be more ‘doctor-ly’ or ‘nurse-ish’. Both things that I don’t want to be nor do my clients want me to be. So, I continue to be passionate about something that I love and pass on the knowledge that I have to other women, so that they can ‘bill themselves’.
Exactly who do you serve, Michele (I get a kick out of me in third person!)? Right now, mainly young radical Anarchist or as well educated, white, middle class women (who everyone else is serving apparently) might refer to them as ‘punks’, ‘outcasts’ or even a few other as ‘hippies’. I am a radical and I tend to stick with ‘my kind’…not because I couldn’t serve anyone else (I have had clients of all walks and with all degrees of bulging and empty wallets), but because they are under served, discredited, unappreciated and very much aware of what they need and want. I come from a completely different mind set than most midwives…I didn’t start out serving ‘posh’ women and ‘trend mongers’. I started out with poor illegal Mexicans, very low/no income white and black families, but mainly single and teen mothers. There have been the religiously fundamental (of various stripes) and those who were simply afraid of doctors and hospitals and fearful of what they might do to them or their child. I have seen some desperate souls, but they were more full of light and understanding then all of these policy pushers crammed together.
Who knows, maybe one day, I will grow up and realize that this isn’t about life, beauty, autonomy and freedom, but it’s really all about who is ‘with money’, who is privileged and what they think is better for the rest of us. Maybe I won’t always be so radical…maybe I’ll stop caring one day. But right now, all I see are the rights of so many women being trampled on and many of the women who serve them are being trampled on even harder. Midwifery is not Nursing; midwifery is not Allopathic or medical. Midwifery is (w)holistic; midwifery is ‘with woman wisdom’ – you could say it’s the wisdom one gains from being ‘with woman’.
Jah Love and Peace