Unique mothers, babies and births.

Humans categorize and compare. It is the way we make sense of the world. As parents we can't help categorizing our kids: "He's the rebel, she's the shy one, the pretty one, the 'good girl'". We know better but it's the way our minds work. When women are having a second or subsequent baby, they always compare to the other(s). It's understandable to make sense of life by referring to your own experience. Midwives sometimes think of women as first time mothers, VBACs, prior posterior baby. The categories are necessary in order to function professionally. In doing so we sometimes lose sight of uniqueness, individuality and, at our peril, humanity. Just as parents always circle back to the unique unpredictability of each child, the amazing chaotic unknowns of each birth, midwives, to remain human and loving, must also circle back again and again to the glory and beauty of every woman, every baby every birth, as unique, unknown, unpredictable. Selena has had 5 children, delightful individuals who came into this world uniquely. Juan was born so quickly that I did not make it to the birth. It was perfect, crazy and intimate, just as many unplanned, unassisted births can be. So, in labor with her 5th, she was wary of a quick birth. Different baby, different moment, different birth. It was a gentle and gradual unfolding over many hours. After her water broke at 8 in the morning, labor meandered all day and into the night. Selena was impatient. Comparing to Juan's birth, she moved around the house second guessing herself and asking me to check her dilation. There were no problems, nothing out of the ordinary. It was just baby Maria's story, a unique one, just as we all are. Out she slid at midnight. "Hello world", baby Maria said, and stared wide-eyed around her.

Polly remembered the gradual descent of her first baby, Peter, the support of her midwife's hand through the ring of fire as he slid out. So her second birth was shocking. It's speed, it's crazy power, took hold of her as Tom barreled his way out. Two days later, at her home visit, she was still reeling from it. "It was so different. How could I have coped differently?" Don't blame yourself or anybody else, Polly, including Tom. He had his own unique, wild and perfect story."

Just as all of us and all of our children have our own unique, wild and perfect stories.