Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ellen's Midwifery Adventure

I'm spending 3 weeks this month in Seattle, "running away from home" to be a student in a midwifery practice run by some friends I met through my work with MANA (the Midwives Alliance of N. America).  So without Eric or those two boys of mine, I am house-sitting, cat-sitting, and car-sitting in what seems to be a pretty nice big city, spending 4 days a week at a busy birth center (the practice does home and birth-center births, about 10 a month with three midwives).  The other days I have spent working on various projects that followed me across the country, brushing the very sheddy long-haired cat for my own protection, doing a little recreational cooking, and walking, walking walking!

Since I've never lived in a city like this and since the neighborhood is full of Arts and Crafts houses (my favorite kind), I have so far been content to mostly walk near "my" house--there are lots of hills and lots of small parks around here that are very steep hillsides themselves, so that once you get off the street and onto a trail or a stair, you feel like you're in another little world--with big trees, moss, ferns, and views down and across to Lake Washington.  There's a nice hidden-feeling back yard and garden out the back door, and beyond that is the lake and beyond that are, in clear moments, the Cascades.

You might notice that I have not mentioned any births or babies...this is because since I got here 1/8, the practice has not had any births!  Of the 8 people whose due dates put them in my visit "window," 4 had their babies in the 4 days before I got here (not one per day, though...that would be too easy).  The others, well, I'm beginning to think they might wait until after I leave!

In the meantime, I am attending LOTS of prenatal visits and postpartum visits of all sorts, which is instructive.  The workstyle is instructive too.  It's go-go-go all day long with nary a moment to think or do any charting.  Whew!  In my spare time at the childbirth center I am helping them straighten up some of their MANA Statistics issues (playing roving consultant for the three-year-old Web-based system that Eric and I developed for them).  So in my Dr. Jekyll moments I am the MANA Stats expert; in my Mr. Hyde moments I am a mere beginning student.  

However.  I have gotten to palpate quite a few pregnant bellies and listen to bunches of fetal heartbeats with fetoscopes of various types (non-ultrasound stethoscope-type things, not the doppler).  I am also invited to pitch in with the teaching, discussing, and problem-solving that goes on in visits (most of them are 45 minutes or more) and that's fun.  There are three midwives and two students (besides me) so I get to see different styles all day long, too.  

And maybe sometime I'll get to go to a birth too.  But hey, I can do that at home!