At the recent New York State Association of Licensed Midwives (NYSALM) Retreat, I was impressed with a woman, a pregnant woman, a doubly pregnant woman. Two thirds of the way into a twin pregnancy, she brought herself (and her two gestating babes) to support the cause of NY midwives. Throughout the NYSALM Retreat, she worked, played and worked again. Throughout the meeting, she flowed from room to room, doing what needed to be done for others and for herself. Throughout the weekend, she amazed me with her ordinary grace: her quiet sensibility, her tenacity and her deepening relationship with her developing babies.
Here are some examples of these ordinary moments, some examples of her ordinary grace:
A busy midwife in a NYC hospital, she gave up her weekend to support NY midwives and midwifery students in the annual NYSALM retreat, education and lobby day.
A consummate doer, she occasionally left jobs to others and took a well deserved nap.
Tall and elegant, she emptied one more glass of cool water, and then another.
While squatting effortlessly, untangling audio-visual wires, she succinctly shared that her personal birth plan was “still under negation.”
She belly-danced with a ballroom of midwives, her ovoid belly holding two smaller, flatter bellies, all gyrating smoothly.
Attentively rubbing her occupied belly, she mentioned that one baby had its placenta in the back, the other had its placenta in the front. She laughed and mused how this might affect each baby’s perception of the world now and possibly affect their personality later. (This gave me pause. What is it like to be closer to light, or farther from touch than your womb-mate?)
In a feisty discussion with a respected elder from our national organization, ACNM, she stated her opinions strongly yet without heat or rancor. In this intense battleground of dialogue, she firmly held her own and even gained ground,
Towards the end of the NYSALM Retreat, she announced that the babies were feeling a little off. Their nightly ritual is for Daddy to talk to them while rubbing oil onto ‘their’ belly. Because of the retreat, this hadn’t happened for awhile. The weekend away was long for them. (I imagine that now they are glad to be home with Daddy.)
As I was saying goodbye, hugging her and patting her belly, she jokingly hurried my hand to the other side. “Don’t forget this one, this one gets jealous.”
In recalling these perfectly ordinary moments, it’s apparent to me that every baby deserves to be gestated like this, to be surrounded with love, attention, humor, and plain old curiosity. It is apparent to me that every girl deserves a mentor like this, a living example of how motherhood, profession and community service can be fluidly interwoven. It is apparent me that every woman, no matter how many babies she is carrying or where she plans to birth, that every woman deserves a midwife like this. In recalling these moments, it’s apparent me that ordinary grace happens all around us, all of the time. It is apparent to me that ordinary grace is midwifed daily.
May all babies be born into loving hands