I just got back from the dentist. I really dislike going to the dentist but I needed a filling so there I was, lying in the chair, upside down, with my standard issue protective glasses, feeling very anxious. From my vantage point I could see a small bit of the ceiling tile, a big square bright light, and the faces of the dentist and the dental assistant. They were talking back and forth about something banal in the office. They passed instruments back and forth above me. My fists were clenched. The noise of the drill echoed in my head and I smelled burning tooth. At one point, the dentist was pushing hard on my jaw in a way that was painful. I was having a hard time swallowing. With the rubber dam in, I couldn’t speak or ask them to stop. I didn’t understand everything that they were doing, nor did I know what all of the tools were for. No one saw the need to explain step by step what was happening. I was powerless. I had no choice but to defer to the dentist because he has Knowledge that I do not.
And I thought to myself, “this is not natural.”
And then, with relief and wonder I thought, “Thank goodness the births of my children were not like this.” And I felt terribly sorry for the many many women who experience their children’s births the same way I experience the dentist. I thought of that ridiculous comparison between natural childbirth and having a tooth pulled without anesthetic. I thought of all the ways that medicine and power and birth are in such a huge big jumble in our culture.
So today, International Day of the Midwife, while I was at the dentist I felt love, respect and gratitude for all the midwives out there:
The ones who, in a world where birth often looks like this:
can make it look like this: