Massachustts. . . Families. . . of Midwives?

2 October 2009 at 1:39 am Leave a comment

I had a great conversation on the T the other day with a man who was possibly homeless, probably drunk, and certainly garrulous on subjects dear to my heart.

I got on a nearly-empty train midday with my sleeping baby in the stroller, bags of produce from the farmers’ market hanging off the back. I worked fast–brake on stroller, bags on floor, wrap on me, baby on me in wrap, bags in stroller–and two stops after I got on, I was seated again with my still-sleeping baby snuggled against me and the produce and stroller ready for transport home. I looked up to realize a man across the aisle was staring at me. 

“Everyday I take the train, I ain’t never seen nothing like that yet!” he said. 

I smiled politely.

“I mean it, I ain’t never seen nothing like that! You one competent woman! You know what you doing!”

I explained that I was just thinking ahead–when I got off the train, I’d have a one-block walk home and then four flights of stairs, which are impossible with a baby asleep in the stroller. With baby on me, I can sling the produce bags over one arm, fold up the stroller and tuck it under the other arm, and get up the stairs in one go.

The man whistled appreciatively. “You one strooooooong woman!”

I thought the conversation, such as it was, would end here, but apparently he was just pausing before shifting the subject slightly.

“You remind me of my mama!” he said. “She had eleven children, five girls and six boys. All natural births–none of this drug stuff, man. She one strooooooong woman too. My mama’s mama and my daddy’s mama, they both midwives. They helped my mama and lots of women. They strooooooong women too!”

I mentioned that I had a homebirth with a midwife myself; I almost laughed while saying it, though, because my husband is always teasing me that I’ll tell anyone about my homebirth, within a minute or two of meeting them, and yes, it seems that it’s true–there I was telling this homeless man on the Orange Line, after all.

“That the way to go, mama! You lucky nothing bad happened to that baby–he breech or something–but you know, the midwives, they can handle stuff. And it not like where my mama was, in the country, because here they got hospitals just in case, you know?”

I do know. 

“But you gotta be a strong woman and know what best for you baby, you know?”

I do indeed.

The man may have just been warming up for an even longer speech–I’m not sure, because my stop was approaching and I had to leave. I also confess that I wasn’t the most active participant in this conversation in part because I was just so surprised that I was actually having it. I love how the man seamlessly moved from babywearing to natural birth to midwifery, for example, and I love how he succinctly espoused the core tenets of the midwifery model of care.

So, yes, Mr. I-Never-Caught-Your-Name, Grandson-of-Two-Midwives–I hope life treats you well, and I hope you continue sharing your views. Thanks for the smiles, wherever you are.



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