I am always thinking about how I can help aspiring midwives on their journey. The more steps you take away from the starting gate the less you remember what it felt like there.........so I try to remember what I told my students in the early days because that was what I valued in my own journey.
One of the hardest but most valuable lessons I learned was that the midwives I idolized could be wrong and I had to think for myself. I will give you some examples of how flawed my thinking was.
1) When I started training to become a CCE I attended some midwifery meetings and workshops. Even tho at that point I did not want to BE a midwife, I saw that I did not own the proper midwife uniform and ran out and bought twirly skirts and bandanas for my hair.
I am NOT a twirly skirt person, but I thought I had to become one. And me in a bandana...now there is a picture! Some people look great in a bandana but unfortunately I am not one of them. I looked like I
was having a bad hair day, every day... or a cold onion.
2) While I was training to become a CCE I came to know a
California midwife very well. If she said it, I believed it. didn't look it up. That was good enough for me............even when in my own studies I ran across proof that she was saying things that
were just not true, I did not want to accept it. I loved her and it seemed disloyal to disagree with her on any level, much less admit that she didn't know as much as she tried to make people think. Later, one of my preceptors would ask me a question and then ask why I believed in my answer. If I gave the midwife's
name.....as in "that is what _______thinks." she would ask, but what do YOU think?
3) One might assume that would have gotten me off that groupie track, but it didn't. After I started my own practice, I would come home from every birth and call a well-known, actually famous at the time for having been arrested, midwife and ask her point by
point how I handled things. She had spent a couple weeks with my family and I completely trusted and adored her.
I will never forget how after one of those conversations, my husband asked me how long it was going to be before I trusted myself at a birth.
"You know", he said, "at some point it will hit you that________is not at the birth, but you are. So you have to feel like YOU know enough to be there alone or quit." It hit me like a ton of bricks.
He was right. There is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion from another practitioner during or after a birth.....but I had to stop trying to get a report card.
Learning to think for myself and believe in my own research was such a fresh issue for me that it was the motivation for many of the assignments and procedures I wrote into the curriculum.
That is why a big emphasis for us is to stress that you need to know WHY as well as what!