Today we got into some hearty midwifery skills, from blood pressure and pulse rate to cervical checks and fundal height. So many interesting nuances to each of these skills that I wish more people had access to! It made me think of how many of my students know the positions of their babies late in pregnancy and how many report a hands-on approach to determining this placement. I feel incredibly fortunate to have learned the tip of this positioning iceberg.
The Farm Midwives use a belly model to teach this to students before they start handling real live pregnant women, but I'm grateful to the actual pregnant ladies who also shared a few minutes of their time (and their bellies) with me.
Again, the food was great. As in, tremendous. I'll take a picture tomorrow, but it won't do it justice. Jerusalem artichokes in the salad, amazing blue corn tamales for dinner, and fun conversations, too. So many of these women are embarking on a change in their lives... some into midwifery and some into the birth world in general. It is exciting to network and hear their stories... they truly are my people.
Bea and I got to do a little bit of yoga on the porch tonight (with some mosquito friends) before it rained. The rain sounds beautiful here, through bazillions of leaves with no city sounds, no sirens, and very, very little "beeping" (did I mention there is almost no cell reception here? It's a blessing, I promise).
As I think about what it is I enjoy most about the training here, it is the rich history and intimate stories shared by the instructors. Whether they are talking about service work they have done abroad or deliveries they attended here on The Farm only days ago, the truth is captivating.
Midwives are storytellers. Teachers. They are these things not because they know so much of what is said, but because they observe the unspoken, and weave it into tradition. History. It is with deep gratitude that I am here.
The Role of a Midwife's Assistant, Infectious Diseases, Sterile Technique, and Licensing and Certification of Midwives
What a day! We started off early, early in the morning with a social hour breakfast and coffee and jumped right into what midwives assistants are expected to do. It was fun (but not surprising) to learn that the roles vary as much as the midwives... some arrive first, some second. Some take vital signs, others hang back. Some are skilled in supportive roles, and others are learning to be midwives themselves.
Because I used to work at The Southern Colorado AIDS Project, the infectious disease section was primarily review, but it was a worthwhile review anyway. Bea and I were wondering why it isn't included in more depth in doula trainings, because it is sure relevant to them too... maybe a role I can really fill!
Lunch on The Farm was amazing. Absolutely wonderful salad and soup, made from mostly local, organic ingredients. This is so much like the food that I make, except that it tastes better because I didn't have to work to make it. The break was short-lived, but so fun to catch up with the other women in the training. Of the 15 of us, 3 are from Canada and 1 is from Costa Rica... other states include New York, California, Texas, Delaware, and Georgia. I was sort of hoping to find some closer friends geographically, but it is a treat to hear about the struggles and triumphs that birth professionals have in other parts.
Sterile technique was fun for me because it was a class with one of my favorite midwives, and I really like her teaching style (although to be fair, all of our instructors have been the most perfect balance of well-informed, experienced, educated, compassionate and funny). Yes, funny. They all have a sense of humor and use it when it's appropriate (something I'm still learning how to do).
I got to help make dinner tonight, which is at one of the instructor's houses. She has a gorgeous view of the woods and a lovely garden. We helped to make a fresh, seasonal dinner out of the local sweet potatoes, tomatoes from local Amish friends, basil, soy beans, black eyed peas, and okra. I've never shucked soy beans from the plant before, but it was easy and pretty fun. I'd also never had roasted okra, but when someone makes me a local vegan meal from scratch, I try it all. I'm glad I did.
This evening we learned about the different kinds of midwifery certification organizations, and it was eye opening and a bit sobering. Can you believe that there are a significant number of states where it is illegal to practice midwifery outside of the hospital setting? I know I'll go to bed tonight with my head spinning about why this problem exists.
Got off the plane yesterday afternoon to a good omen: A WOMAN HAS GIVEN BIRTH!!! That makes my day already.
I'm thrilled to learn that Nashville is in the central time zone; for some reason I thought it was Eastern, but this is a very happy discovery for me. My body hates bouncing back and forth, and since my days will be starting at 7:30, I'm one hour happier... and so are my breakfast companions!
Our shuttle Driver, Jessie, is a permaculture teacher on The Farm and drove us in... by way of the Whole Foods. It was certainly a treat to pick up some comfort items (like kale chips and chocolate) and get a salad for dinner, since none of us was certain whether or not there would be anything prepared for us.
I learned so many things about The Farm just by driving in to the "dorm." There are lots of cottage industries here... they have a soy dairy, a mushroom spore distributing business (I don't know what you call it, but if you want to grow your own mushrooms, you can order this stuff), solar technology, radiation detection, and all sorts of unique foods.
The dorm is a tiny little cabin with seven twin-sized beds (with yoga blankets on each). It's cozy and has lots of little windows which (I thought) would let in lots of natural morning light. When I woke up at 9:30 this morning, I realized that wasn't going to work :)
We had dinner under the canopy by the store after shopping and chatting quite a bit. The store is like a cross between a country store and a mini Whole Foods (in the best way possible). Delicious, local foods, lots of options and such a friendly staff. I plan to try everything once while I'm here :)
As many of you know, I'm headed to The Farm tomorrow to learn more about midwifery assistant-ing and I'm so excited I can't even think straight enough to type coherently.
I made a rash and crazy decision in February that I wanted to learn from Ina May... I figured that she's been doing this for awhile and knows quite a bit about midwifing, but I also thought that the time of her teaching might be growing a bit short. So I drafted up an application and decided that YES I would go, even if midwifery isn't necessarily on my ten year plan, so long as they would take me.
Either I'm a compelling applicant, or the admission criteria are soft, or a stroke of luck has landed upon me. Regardless, I'm on my way. I've been packed for a week, and have two packing lists. They have mostly the same items on them, because I'm not a very creative packer.
I am determined to go sans checked bag, despite the fact that I'm bringing:
- a babydoll
- a cushion
- a towel
- a couple of textbooks
- a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope
- a heaping helping of snacks
- a yoga mat
Yep, it's all in a roll-aboard and a small backpack. Here's thanks to five years of traveling back and forth across the country like a ping-pong ball... guess I learned a few things.
I hope to blog often, and will also be sharing some pix on Instagram, so
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this process with you. You're stronger than you think you are.