Levatrice....With Woman

Six weeks after I gave birth to the second of my five sons, I was driving our ancient old station wagon back home from dropping off my father-in-law at the airport in Pisa. I was happy. We were heading home to our place in the hills above Florence, where we lived in an old stone farmhouse. My husband taught English and was mostly gone in the evenings. I took care of the little ones and tried to speak Italian.

I remember where we were on the road. I suddenly realized, and I turned to my husband, and said: "I want to be a midwife".

I volunteered with St. John's Ambulance when I was thirteen. I learned everything a young girl could about first aid, and I competed in contests, fake blood and all. I volunteered every Sunday at the Grace Hospital - maternity care, 70's style. The moms were in wards, the babies were behind glass, and the dads could watch them from the hallway. My duty was to take each dad to his proper mom, and to distribute evening snack: apple juice and tea biscuits. I loved it: I loved the new babies, the new mommies, the warm, tea biscuity smell of babies, poop, and women's bodies.

I had a butcher-shop experience at that child's birth: unable to understand the language, I turned to victim mode and suffered uncaring doctors, making jokes over my body; a midwife smoking cigarettes; general anaesthetic, and a baby I didn't even see for over 24 hours.

Midwifery seemed like a good idea.

By 1988, I had enrolled in the Apprentice Academics program. This was distance learning, the good old fashioned way. I read the texts, wrote the assignments, followed my guide, and we sent envelopes and packages back and forth acroos the Atlantic.

By 1991, we had four boys and our small mixed organic farm (complete with large stone house to rebuild - just the two of us....with a little help from our Wwoofers - but that's another story); a large garden, chickens, ducks, geese, a vineyard...life was good! But I still dreamed of midwifery and studied my textbooks at night, collected my Birth Gazettes every month from the postman. I wrote a couple of articles....kept in touch with the lovely women at the Farm.

In 1997 life changed and we ended up in Montreal. I was working as a doula and witnessed many births over the years. These were hospital births.

I am a levatrice - this is the antique Italian word for midwife. I don't use the words "midwife" or "sage-femme", because if I did, I could be accused of practising medicine without a license. But I don't practice medicine. I attend women in childbirth.

I am in the final lap of a years-long process that will end with two exams. When I pass them, I will be able to put the letters "CPM" after my name. Certified Professional Midwife. (Update - I passed my skills exam - only my written to go!)

I teach many young women about how to care for a woman when she is giving birth. These women ask me about the best path to midwifery. There is no best path. My path has been long and interesting, and I am blessed to be able to say that I do what I love.

But at the same time, I am nervous every time I go to a woman's birth. I am excited, and honored, and a little afraid, to be taking part in such a powerful event. And so, I am nervous about my exams. I want to pass, but a little voice inside says that maybe I'm not learned enough.

So, this is the card that was shown to me:

Three of Wands (R) - Learn to be receptive to your needs for a new direction - recognize when your talents, skills and efforts are being wasted. There will be resolution after some struggle - but, much work is still needed. The proper balance has not been obtained because you are preoccupied with your "inner" thoughts to the exclusion of outer advantages. You are actually looking away from the power that is available to you. You have become too giving and this allows others to take advantage of you. You need to check everything before moving ahead. A careless approach can ruin everything. You may experience the failure of some project due to "storms" or problems that are greater than you had anticipated.
You are trying to become involved with the environment after a lengthy time of detachment and reflection which has been disturbed by negative memories. You must be alert to the new opportunities that present themselves and use them wisely. Remain open and receptive to new business ventures and partnerships with reputable people. Be willing to operate from a place of integrity as you move forward - assured in your mind that your heart, mind and spirit are in balance and you are clear on how you wish to handle upcoming situations and the important choices you will be making.
There can be flaws that interfere, keeping dramatic progress on the path just out of reach. The desired qualities for this stage may be present in abundance, but for some reason, the project at hand is off target. Check, possibly right project, wrong motivation or right motivation, wrong project. Guard against over optimism and spiritual vanity as you would against pessimism. Guard against complacency as you would against a nomadic restlessness forever more and more.

I would like to send gratitude to everyone who has accompanied me along this path - and also to invite everyone to a huge party when I finally get that CPM. Maybe that's what it's all for....


  1. Rivka

    this is so exciting - of course you will be skilled enough. I have witnessed your heart and hands at work over many years.
    Your work as a doula has been done with such Kavanah, that it has help hundreds of women who have been your patients and clients - go forward with strength and love
    All the best
    Perle Feldman

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words!!!

  3. Hey mamme-sheinah
    I only say what is true


Post a Comment

Let's talk!

Popular Posts