MAYD to Birth: At Your Doorstep

Promoting gentle, empowering mother journies…

A License to Love

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Midwife Katie McCall

I’ve been observing midwives for years.

First I observed her strange magical ways from a distance. I read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley as I cuddled up in my sleeping bag while camping during a rain storm. I imagined the deep and radiating surges of the mother she wrote about, kneeling in labor, sweating great drops of hard work. I felt the warmth of the midwife behind her, cradling her like a crescent moon and esoterically absorbing her labor pains in a sympathy that was divine. I wondered at the herbal concoctions and mother’s wisdom of these natural crones of the feminine. I thought deeply about the source of their knowledge.

And then I returned to college and pushed those thoughts away as something for another time, another camping trip far in my future. As an art major, I picked up my paintbrushes and crafted women of purpose who were powerful and unable to be touched by a man’s world… the world I knew was always at my heels.

Half a lifetime later, with years of partying and self expression and experimentation behind me, I returned to the study the midwife.

I observed her now as the warm mother. My own swollen belly grew and ached for her hands in a very real world. Long gone were my visions of her as a fantasy character. I needed her NOW. I needed her to be with me, at my side, for the very present and mundane job of laboring and birthing my own baby. After months of searching, my heart leaped when I found her. I clasped onto her with both hands and trusted her implicitly. She taught me how to trust my instincts and my body. She held my hand as she walked me into the dense thicket of female knowing and then disappeared, leaving me there to find my own way home. I looked around desperately for her and called out to her. But I was answered by silence.

And then I observed her voice in my own soul. This observation was frightening. Like a newborn baby, my midwife voice sounded strange and familiar all at the same time. She was demanding and naive. She often forgot to trust like I knew she should. She floundered and faltered when I needed her to be strong most of all. When I felt most weak I looked around for the midwife who had led me to this strange and terrifying place, but she was never there when I needed her. All I had left was this insecure, immature wisp of a girl who called herself “midwife.” And that little girl was me.

But with years, my voice grew stronger. My heart grew wiser. My hands grew less intrusive. My mind grew quieter. My soul held love and hope and trust with each passing day. And joy brimmed with each new baby.
And then they came.

I was on my way to a birth. To a woman who trusted me implicitly. To place my own warm hands around her and guide her into the thicket of deep knowing as I had done so many times before. I was dressed in the clothes of a woman who knows fantasy and the work of now, side by side. I held my bag of tools that are usually untouched: my ornaments of recognition that birth can sometimes be a lesson of action.

And they stole the bag from my hands and placed the cool and tightening chains around my wrists. And they caged me like a wild beast.
They dragged me up before the world of men and demanded that I tell them the way to the thicket of knowing. They beat me and called me names and told me I was a murderer of babies and a hater of mothers.

A murderer of babies? I who trust them to find their own way in the world? Big tears of pain flowed like the waters of a thousand births.

“Not I!” Cried the midwives behind me and beside me. “Never I!” Cried the midwives above and below me. They shoved me to the forefront and demanded I pay for my midwife voice… the voice they had given me when they left me alone in the thicket.
And so the men behind the bar tore my clothing and starved my children. The gutted my womb from the sacred space it held inside my soul. They crushed it with their boots, right and left.

When they were satisfied that they had murdered my sympathy I returned home.
I pushed the midwife out of my mind as a thought for another, far off time. I picked up my paintbrush and fashioned strong women of purpose who were untouched by the world of men. And I wondered if there were any midwives left who would avoid my fate.

-Katie McCall, CPM CA Licensed Midwife 2010-2012, who was prosecuted for midwifery and given a felony and will never be allowed to work in her home state again. Licensure does not protect midwifery or mothers. Standing together does.

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