Despite all the training that prepares midwives to spring into action for any number of reasons (the kersplash of your water breaking, the 2 a.m. phone call, the absence of coffee) we spend a lot of time just, well, waiting. It’s a bit reminiscent of pregnancy itself.
It can be hard to wait patiently. It can feel as though, as you wait, nothing is happening. But so much is happening. There are worlds spinning and suns rising, all in the spaces in between our noticing. Midwifery, in many ways, is about learning to notice all that is happening in those in-between spaces.
You feel a movement and breathe deeply, taking a step closer, inside your mind, to being ready. Your baby hiccups and wiggles, growing. You prepare your nest with diapers and receiving blankets and a digital thermometer. You think about ring slings and car seats and wonder what breastfeeding will feel like.
I pack my birth bag with all the supplies we will need to keep things clean and safe and quiet(ish) for your birth. I read over your chart. I replace the batteries in my flashlight. I check the bag again.
You dream about your baby’s face. I say a silent prayer for you to feel strong and ready. We both plan, and wait, each in our own way. And when the time comes, we will also wait together.
You will rest in between contractions, sometimes almost sleeping. I will sit beside you, or maybe in the next room. Long minutes will pass. Even long hours may pass as you labor, and even in the activity of this final part of the waiting, we will both still be waiting.
What a build-up! What suspense! There are few occurrences in life that are so poignantly and excruciatingly anticipated.
It takes a long time to have a baby – months of prenatal appointments, weeks of discomfort, hours or even days of labor. Perhaps, aside from the obvious biological reasons, this is because in order to experience a life change so magnificently great, we must also experience great changes within ourselves.
Because during all that time that we weren’t doing much, while I was waiting with you, I was also keeping an eye on you. And in that time, you changed as much as your tiny baby changed while growing inside of you. You became even stronger, wiser, more intentional, more informed, calmer, and ready. During the spaces in-between work days, appointments, meals, and laundry, you became a mother.
And when my time of waiting with you comes to an end, I will send you off with so many hopes and dreams and blessings. As you wait for your baby to sleep through the night, may time go fast enough for you, but not too fast. As you wait for just enough independence to have a date night or a day off, may the waiting be short enough but not too short. As your child grows and the years begin to slip by, through the spaces in-between, may you notice those spaces sometimes, and slow down, and really taste, no, savor, the waiting.
Perhaps it is in the spaces between events, in the waiting, that the sacredness of creation resides, breathing and being and making life. May we be blessed to glimpse it sometimes, but especially when creation is happening within us. And may each of us have a patient soul with a keen eye fixed upon us, so that we never wait alone.
Kassia Walcott is a Texas Licensed Midwife, Certified Professional Midwife, and lover of mothers, babies, children, animals and nature. A homeschooling mother of three, she lives in Plano with her family, pets, and herb garden, where she loves to read and drink too much coffee.