People can accompany you to the bridge. They can greet you on the other side,
but you must walk that bridge alone.”
* * * *
The word midwife literally means, “With woman” and that is what I am. I spend my days sitting with women at one of the most pivotal moments in their lives. Married or single, 17 or 35 years old, Balinese or Australian, Christian or Muslim, HIV positive or negative, rich or poor—I sit and hold women who await their first, second, third child. Some of them seem uninterested and others weep at the miracle of life. Whether they squat, sit, scream or tremble, I have made a commitment to each and every woman I work with. Some of them thank me profusely and others forget my name; but in the end, none of it matters when that baby open his eyes for the first time and takes in the big, bright world. And then there are the times when baby doesn’t open his eyes and take a breath; when he, or someone somewhere, decides that it isn’t his time. And I sit with mom in that grief, as well. Those moments of pain, confusion, ecstasy, bliss and love are what I live for, why I am here.
A mentor of mine recently said to me “Welcome to your new career: waiting.” There have been countless nights in which I have risen from my warm bed or interrupted a meal to go wait; to sit with a woman in the depths of her labor, in the throes of her life’s work culminating into the most intense sensations she may have ever had. At first, there is resistance because I am tired or hungry or whatever the case may be, but the minute I step in that birth room, I remember why I’m there. This work is not about me, it is about her and her passage into motherhood. It is about her comfort and her baby. At 1 centimeter, or 10, I show up to let her know she is safe, that she is held by at least one person in the world, if not a hundred others. My only task is to hold her, rub her, nourish her, and encourage her by looking deep into her eyes and telling her that she can do it, that she is strong and that her baby is beautiful.
Through watching eleven different souls come onto the planet, I have rediscovered my union with a divine spirit living deep within us all. I have solidified my interest in midwifery as much more than my work in the world, but as my souls’ truest calling. As I slowly learn the logistics, terminology, demands and ways of the midwife, I know that the path is worth taking. It is so much bigger than I could’ve ever dreamed. My trust in women’s bodies and their wisdom is unwavering. I hope to humbly serve as a witness to the mystery and power of birth for the rest of my life.
Below is an excerpt from a journal entry I did at the beginning of March:
“As her contractions got more and more intense, she would collapse backwards into me, holding her breath and hitting her thigh with her hand. She would drift off into another space after a contraction and her husband would move her face around to bring her back to the room. I was breathing very heavily to help her breathe through the contractions. I didn’t even know how many centimeters she was at, but it didn’t matter. I reminded myself to straighten my back and feel my feet and remain grounded. (I’m really learning about how to take care of myself while I hold space for the family. It’s hard work!) After about half an hour of this, I began to get really light headed and my lips started vibrating. I felt immense waves of energy descending from above, into me and into her. I felt the strength and the life-force moving through her body as she surrendered and fell into me. I was high. I felt so honored to be an integral part of this woman’s current birthing experience—at 20 years old, she had had two miscarriages before this pregnancy and I could feel her anticipation and courage for bringing new life into the world.”
* * *
My name is Dakota Hindman and I am a 20-year-old student in a travel abroad program, called LEAPYEAR. This “gap-year” is dedicated to student-designed curriculum, reflective inquiry of the self and cultural immersion. I traveled to India in the fall and learned about culture, religion and communication. This spring, I have been living in Bali for three months volunteering at the local birthing clinic, Yayasan Bumi Sehat under Ibu Robin Lim and her staff, in the small village of Nyuh Kuning. During my time here, I attended a week-long workshop titled Eat, Pray, Doula and will soon become a DONA certified doula! My intention is to attend midwifery school within the next year and become a CPM or LM. I believe with every fiber of my being that childbirth education, gentle birthing experiences and continuity of care will heal humanity and Mother Earth.
About Dakota Hindman
My name is Dakota Hindman and I am a 20-year-old student, doula, prospective midwife, dancer, singer, traveler, writer, photographer, daughter, sister and friend from Boulder, Colorado. I currently live in Bali, Indonesia but will be returning to Northern California to finish up my sophomore year of college. I hope to attend midwifery school within the next year and absolutely cannot wait! Namaste~