I had a very deep experience for me yesterday in church. I was in one of my church meetings, sitting next to a woman with a 2 month old baby girl. I had met this woman a few weeks before. We had engaged in a short conversation in which she had told me her baby had been adopted. You could sense and see this excitement this woman had over receiving this baby. It was obvious to me she had been waiting some time to become a mother and this child was an answer to long and hard prayers.

Throughout the meeting, I felt blessed to be able to watch the mother and infant interact, doing what I call their mommy/baby dance. It is BEAUTIFUL for me to behold. The baby had woken up and the mother was preparing the bottle to feed her. She gently laid her across her arms, conscious to the positioning.

I will be honest here, I do my best not to judge nor condemn the woman who bottle feeds her baby. Though I have never done it, I do understand and am grateful for the opportunity the bottle provides to the woman who cannot breastfeed or to the mother who struggles in anyway with the option of breastfeeding. From my perception, I had always thought that the bottle seemed to create a small distance between the mother and baby. My sense of it was that deeper bonding was a bit stymied by the bottle. The experience with this woman showed me how I had been wrong.

I watched this woman, who with the utmost care, cuddled, caressed and feed her baby. I must admit, I was surprised by the amount of bonding that took place. As soon as she pulled the bottle out of her bag, I found myself feeling sad for the baby that she was missing out on a connection that is vital for her survival. But then, when I watched as this woman still pulled her to the breast. Still held her as close as she could. Still was VERY conscious and connected in the way she held and touched her baby. I realized I had been wrong. I realized I had judged falsely and repented immediately, in my heart, for doing so.

I watched this symphony between mother and baby take place the whole meeting. At the close of our meeting, we sang “How Great Thou Art.” This is a song that is extremely dear to my heart. Aside from the fact that I love the song just because of how glorious the song is, it is my father’s favorite song and we sung it at his funeral. So, to this day, I cannot sing that song without tears flowing down my cheeks.

As we started to sing, I was still in awe and in rapture with this mother and baby. Tears began to well up and my heart started to feel like it would BURST from my chest. For the first time, in YEARS I think, I felt that urging….that longing….that soft push that I had felt before. The last time I remember feeling it this deeply was soon after Golden was born.

At his birth, there was an assistant midwife there who, I felt, saved me. I was an emotional wreck throughout my pregnancy. Chris had a job, at the time, where he traveled some and was required to work long hours. I had gained WAY too much weight to maintain health. 60+ lbs. Edema was starting to set in. My blood pressure was slowly but surely rising every prenatal. I had completely ignored my midwives nudges to eat better and take better care emotionally. Just a week before my due date, I felt so gross I called my midwife in despair. She stated there was no time to waste. I had to have my baby.

The next day she showed up at our home, she broke my water and we waited for contractions to begin. Once we realized induction was going to be the order of the day, my stress levels skyrocketed. Luckily, my midwife brought her delicate but firm assistant, who, with her soothing words and touch, made my labor and birth more than bearable…even rewarding and uplifting. It was soon thereafter, that I had my experience similar to the one above.

I don’t remember the details of that first experience. I do remember the feelings. No different than my church experience. They were subtle, yet powerfully deep. They sang to my heart in such a way that I felt expanded and open. I felt an unspoken understanding or a fulfilled wisdom that I had been longing to be answered.

As I watched this mother and child and sang, I silently and slowly wept. Again, I KNEW without a doubt, what made my heart leap. I KNEW part of my purpose for this life was to work with mothers and babies. Now some of you are saying, “Duh Rachel, you are already a midwife. You work with mothers and babies all the time.” You are right. That is true but since I moved to Texas unless I get licensed and certified it is illegal for me to practice as a midwife. I was very sad at giving that up.

My experience yesterday though told me I didn’t have to give that up. I may not be able to practice as a midwife but I can still work with woman and babies through many other avenues. I can still teach classes. I can still attend births as a doula or labor assistant. I can still help woman own their power within themselves to have the pregnancy and birth they’ve always wanted. I can still aid in teaching a woman how to take care of herself physically, emotionally and spiritually. I can still discuss with them conscious conception, pregnancy and birth. I can still BE THERE, if I really want to.

Now to some of you this may sound so simple. It may sound like this is something that I already knew and on a certain level, it is and was. But this understanding that I received wasn’t so much about learning it for the first time as it was more about the recognition that working with woman and babies is something that is already part of me. I guess I should say what my midwife told me when I asked why she became a midwife. She said to me that she hadn’t called midwifery into her life but instead midwifery had called her. Many other midwives have made this same statement to me. There’s this longing, this presence, this feeling inside us that says my existence will not be fulfilled in a way that it should be unless I can work with woman and babies. That’s what I think anyway.

So, please know I am not saying I have all the answers for woman and babies. Or that I have any of the answers. I only know I want to be near them. I want to be close and watch the process. To learn and to teach. To show and to be shown. To listen and to be heard. To do whatever I can to make the connection and the bond between mothers and babies deeper, stronger, more satisfying, happier and ultimately more peaceful. I believe if we long, as a human race, for a more peaceful world….it begins with mothers and babies.