By Megan Ojeda
I never wanted to be a midwife. Birth was this disturbing, chaotic event filled with
synthetic substances and artificial relationships, all forced upon a woman by the
supposed impending doom of pain and potential death. It was lonely, violent, and
humiliating. Now, I know the truth about birth. Now, my calling has never been clearer:
it is because of those perceptions that I will become a midwife.
I hated the thought of birth, growing up. I was raised in an age where people
televised real plastic surgeries, real emergency rooms, and real intensive care units.
Instead of Saturday cartoons, I would switch on my favorite medical marathon. However,
when my shows would end, oftentimes they would be followed by the screaming drama
of a maternity ward, and thus end my entertainment. In that time before I could hit the
power button on the remote, I would catch the opening highlights in which there would
be thinly robed women on their backs, legs up high, widespread, and strapped to what
seemed more like a torture bed than anything worth pride and celebration. Droves of
clinical personnel would buzz in and out and around the woman like swarming bees,
never to address her, only to assess and decide on some routine I didn’t understand.
Birth, as an elderly man once told me, was “the closest to death a human can ever get.” I
didn’t want to die, and I surely never wanted to be involved in someone else’s death,
Fast forward to when I was newly married with the desire to have babies.
Suddenly, I was staring down the barrel of becoming one of those women on TV and I
had no idea how to prepare for it. I began browsing through birth related podcasts when
I was slapped by one with an aggressively colorful six-pointed star as its logo. It drew me
in, this podcast called “Taking Back Birth”, like a mysterious current that had gripped my
raft. It tossed me left and right, flooding my mind with ideas I had never heard,
questions I had never asked, wisdom I had never known. And I was thirsty to learn more.
With the leads I had been given, I began my own research and discovered that birth
didn’t have to be anything like what I had seen on TV. But my journey was far from over.
When I became pregnant with my firstborn and shared my birth plan with family
and friends, they made it clear that they were not on board. Some of them thought I was
cocky for deciding not to birth with drugs, some thought I was stupid for deciding not to
birth in the hospital, and all of them thought I had lost my ever-loving mind when I
chose to birth at home with only my husband there with me. But after the healthy,
unassisted birth of my nearly 9-pound son, those opinions were silenced and I was a
completely new woman. I felt like I had opened my eyes for the first time. I felt like I had
been tasked with something divine. Above all, I felt powerful. Suddenly, I wanted every
woman to feel like I did. Women deserved to be offered more than what I had seen on
TV all those years ago, and I felt called to be a part of that perspective shift.
Today, my beliefs about the world of birth are much different from what they were
in the beginning. I believe birth is a journey guided by the Divine source who speaks to
each of us through intuition and other mysterious ways. Birth is an intricate process
designed by that same Divine source, and is therefore a perfect system at its core. As we
each decide how we want to take part in these Divine offerings, birth can be one of the
most empowering events of our lives.
However, due to a general misunderstanding of the medical model’s role in birth,
mothers are often giving their autonomy, their power, away. With a history of medical
professionals weaponizing their education to create political and social clout against
home birth, western society has almost completely lost its knowledge of normal,
physiological birth. Without the wisdom of how birth works or the actual needs of a
birthing woman, let alone the individual herself, the communities which surround these
expanding families are equally lost to their role in birth.
When I consider my own role in the birth world, I feel called to a few different
routes. As a community home birth midwife, I see myself offering support to women who
are seeking to birth in their own power, in their own space, in their own way. I see
opportunities for providing birth education through easily digested classes, pamphlets,
media, and services, incorporating the scientific along with the things of deep spiritual
meaning that birth often brings forward. In the future, I see the potential for organizing
a birth “sanctuary”, a peaceful, temporary home and community where women could
find both emotional and physical support during the latter days of pregnancy until a
month after birth.
I am not trying to take on the world, but I believe I can make a difference in my
community. One thing I feel is important is forming good relationships with my fellow
birth workers. If we can manage to respect, support, or even collaborate with each other
on the foundational desire to serve our shared community, then how many more families
could be uplifted and empowered in their own birth journeys? I hope for my community
to have at least a general understanding of how birth works, and how best to serve each
other in it. Ultimately, I dream of healthier, more empowered, more confident birthers,
and therefore families, in my community.
When I think back on those maternity medical TV shows, I am no longer horrified,
and I wonder how much they actually played a part in my journey. Birth truly is a life
changing event. Now, it is my hope, my calling, to serve my community and return the
power of birth to whom it belongs: the mother.
“Motherwit comes from God, from your heart. Put the Lord in front and see what He says to
do. And that’s what you do.” – Margaret Charles Smith