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Home Birth

I thought birth in a birth center remote from a hospital was as far as I would want to go. And then, in the last eight weeks, in this, my last semester of midwifery school, I was in women's homes, I was with their partners, I smelled the essence of their family when I walked through the door. And in their beds, and on their floors, I caught their babies. And it was the closest I've come to a religious experience up until this point in my atheist life.
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The winters here are better.

The cold air still makes its way through my jeans, leaving my legs chilled. And every once in a while the wind is such that as it blows by my face it robs me of my breath. But mostly, the winters here lack the sharp edge of New England winters: the freezing temperatures, the piles of brown snow, the treacherous sidewalks and that ominous lack of a will to live that I couldn't seem to shake.

I don't mind the winters here. I've stopped thinking about the season as an integral part to my happiness.

But then, without warning, spring arrives; the last few days of winter drop away and I realize what an important role sunshine, flowers and warmth play in my constitution.
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A progression

Summer 2004 - I pushed with her, holding my breath and I almost passed out. And when the baby's head came, I was astonished at the size of it, at what women's bodies are capable of and I cried.

Autumn 2005 - On my Maternal and Child Health rotation, the only birth I saw, as just a student standing in the corner, a mirror made the difference for her and her pushing became so effective and I cried with her birth.

Summer 2006 - I was training to be a labor and delivery nurse, with all the detailed protocol running through my mind, I watched many births through tears, consistently impressed with women's power.

Winter 2009 - I have long stopped crying with births, but have not stopped being awed by the process. For the very first time, I get to have my hands on the baby as it is born, slippery and fast and squishy and hard in my hands, my heart beating fast, my brain flooded with endorphins. I was high for a week.

I'm glad I like what I'm about to do for the rest of my life.
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What I plan to say at Rory's Blessing Way

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Last Christmas I received these pearl bracelets as a gift. At first I didn’t think they were real pearls because my image of pearls were that they were perfectly round, perfectly white, perfectly flawless.



But these pearls are real. They’re collected from the Yangtze River in China. And to me, they may be more real because they’re natural, you can see their rough edges, their bumps, their flaws. Their beauty lies in their imperfections.

All new parents worry about making mistakes raising their children. I need you to know that you and Aaron are going to be fabulous parents because you have your daughter’s best interests at heart. And I need you to know that you won’t be perfect, not one of us is. We’re all flawed. But, your daughter, she’ll be beautiful, maybe because of her imperfections, her character.

This flawed pearl is for you, to remind you that none of us are perfect but that the beauty of life lies in its imperfections.


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At the brink of sleep

I don't imagine anyone has ever understood me like this.

I never thought I would be so deep in a relationship that the idea of someone other than my partner understanding me, completely, would be so foreign, so impossible, so remote.

But I'm there, deep in it.
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When I locked the deadbolt.

This weekend, nestled away in rural Pennsylvania with 25 friends in a giant renovated barn, was more welcome than I had originally thought it would be. Of course, any vacation weekend in the middle of a busy semester that barely allows time for breathing would be welcome but more so after getting robbed early Friday morning.

We were home.

I walked down the hall after I thought I'd heard a sound.

I locked the deadbolt but didn't turn on the light.

They were there, in the room.

I went back to bed without walking all the way into the living room because I was scared but also, I doubted myself.

Who would come into our apartment?

I'm always paranoid at night.

And then, sometime later, another noise, like the door, I'm half-asleep.

And then, the downstairs' door slams, and I think "The neighbors must be fighting again", and I think, "I should get up and look out the window", but instead, I go back to sleep.

Right now, it haunts me. They were there, right around the corner from me, in the room.

And in the morning, when I tried to use the internet, there was no connection, and I looked across the room at our router. Our TV. It was gone.

The gaming system gone. The video games, DVDs, Ipods, backpacks. Gone.

The deadbolt was undone.

They were in the room when I locked the deadbolt. They were in the room when I locked the deadbolt. They were in the room when I locked the deadbolt.

It's just stuff and we're safe. And for a brief period this weekend I forgot.

But we came home this afternoon and our apartment doesn't feel the same to me. And it's because they were in the room when I locked the deadbolt.
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We know the rules

We know the rules. We’ve been told. We know what we’re supposed to do, where we’re supposed to be, how we're supposed to behave. And yet, here we are, shoulder to shoulder, crowding forward. There are shuffling feet and hair twirling and big eyes gazing around. There’s anticipation for what’s to come. We’re gathered around him, listening to his stories - stories told for the pure purpose of distracting us from our forward progress. We’re really just waiting for his signal. And as he walks a little to one side we start inching forward, shuffling those feet a little more, pulling on that overstressed strand of hair. A sharp “Ut ut!” makes us halt, all three hundred of our eager souls put back in our place by one single man.

The group psychology and social norms that surround three hundred people waiting to board a train fascinate me. We’re waiting beyond the point they tell us to, we’re technically disobeying the rules – the rule that says wait behind that door so the passengers getting off the train have a clear passage to the station, the rule that says you can’t move forward until your train has officially been announced, the rule that says don’t push and play nice. And we all know we are. And we all feel slightly guilty about it, otherwise, the simple but sharp “Ut ut!” of one man wouldn’t be able to hold us back.

One man. Three hundred people. Just think about that. A tiny percentage of our total could overpower him without effort. And here we stand. Not an independent mind among us.

And as I’m standing in this vast sea of business people I can’t help but smile to myself. Not a little smirk, but a huge beaming smile. Group psychology and social norms, the same ones that allow for the dissipation of personal responsibility, also keep us in line, like kindergarteners at 1:59 on the last day of school.