It is always a joy to walk into the hospital and see a Navajo grandmother waiting in the hallway for her family member to deliver a baby. We both give each other a knowing node...I wave and say Ya'ah'teeh! Her face lights up. Inside I am smiling, because yes..there is a bit of home standing in the hallway and I don't feel so out of place...Imagine that...
You've read of my journey through school and all the many experiences I've had since starting as a new graduate midwife, and yes there is always more to learn. However, I feel at times that I'm not well understood. Not sure if that is a cultural thing or a new grad thing. My lack of insecurity may come off as overly secure in my skills, but honestly and seriously I feel that in our Navajo culture we are taught to handle stressful situations through prayer and to maintain a positive attitude. I actually pray every day to maintain a level of strength, clarity, and calmness in my decisions as a new midwife. So what may seem like an overly secure midwife, rather then an insecure one, is really my prayer at work. I've worked with stressful and nervous providers and that does not make everyone feel confident in their skills, rather it creates stress and nervousness in each decision.
On another note, the Native families that I'm able to care for, man are they excited to see someone like them, taking care of their loved one. I've heard comments like " I'm glad there is one of us in such a high position." I don't necessarily view my position as high, however to them it might be. This feeling of shared accomplishment, regardless of the fact that I may not be related them, they feel a sense of pride in me, as I feel a sense of pride to care for them. This connection is powerful and worth whatever culture differences I've experienced up to this point. These families are special gifts every time and I always look forward to working with them. After meeting a native family, they usually ask if I'm Navajo and then they are able to place me. If it's a Navajo family I'm caring for, I will introduce myself and my clan so they can place me. I acknowledge not only the expecting couple, but I pay special attention to any elders in the room.
Each couple I've encountered, Native American or not, they do seem to notice my calm nature and have commented on how it was my calm strength that seemed to help them in the throws of labor. In the end, that is what I aim for. Each experience shapes me as a midwife.... just as much as their experiences with me as their midwife shapes them. For me, birth is not just a medical intervention waiting to happen, it's a spiritual experience and an opportunity for cultural renewal and a chance to connect with something bigger then ourselves. This can not be taught.