It’s been exactly a year since I attended my first birth with the UVA midwives. I am so grateful for the skill, and loving care they offer our community. That first experience I had with Barbara was at an incredibly powerful and beautiful birth. I was impressed with her from the beginning when she advocated for the mom by advising the nurses to bypass triage. Barbara provided such a quiet, supportive presence. She gently sat at the foot of the bed, in the darkened room and allowed this incredibly strong mom to do what her body knew how to do. Medical intervention became necessary during the third stage of labor and Barbara proved to be knowledgeable and professional. She initiated the necessary interventions and called in the appropriate medical backup. If a family is seeking a hospital birth I feel confident in recommending the midwives at UVA. I look forward to getting to know all of the UVA midwives and working closely with them again in the future!
So, when Stephanie said that she wanted to write a ‘Thank you Barbara’ post I immediately said I wanted to share my gratitude along with hers. I attended a beautiful birth with Barbara last Summer and then another one recently last week. Both experiences gave me insight into Barbara’s way of being a midwife and filled me with a deep appreciation for what she in particular, and I imagine the midwives in general, are bringing to UVA for our community. The birth in August had the entire birth team excited from the moment my clients and I walked through the door.
The mama had made it clear that her vision for her birth was that it will be sacred. Barbara and our wonderful staff nurse Lynn welcomed us in such a way that made obvious they intended to honor this mama’s vision and were in every respect holding space for her to find her way-- uninhibited. Barbara gave us space to be alone when we needed it, helped the mama find a breathing pattern that soothed her as the intensifying contractions rose and she mostly sat in the room with us as the story unfolded, offering her support whenever it seemed like the mama needed it just so. As a student of midwifery outside of this context I appreciated how she answered my questions and was open to talking about the details with me as they emerged. I also appreciated how Lynn had her own doula bag with rescue remedy and lotion that she made at home infused with essential oils with which we all took turns using to massage the mama.
When we were together again last week supporting another birth, we recalled our experience in August and it became apparent, that like myself, Barbara was in some ways inspired by the comfort measures that this woman brought for herself to the experience. That birth left a lasting imprint on us both. During this second more recent experience together I was again struck by Barbara’s presence and her ability to coach women into a breath pattern that helps them claim their power and find their calm. As this long, windy birth story unfolded Barbara was continuously present, offering her support and her guidance when it was needed. If I had to summarize what Barbara brought to this birth in just a few words I would say-- immense patience, respect, calm, impeccable timing and judgment. She seemed to know exactly when to leave the mama alone and precisely when it was time, and how to guide her.
When I asked Barbara when it was that she discovered she wanted to become a midwife I learned that she was an L&D nurse for 18 years before becoming a midwife. Growing up, Barbara’s mother was also an L&D nurse. It was with awe at the work her mother did serving women, very early in her life when she was only 4 years old, that the desire to become a midwife took root in her heart. This little bit of history only reaffirmed my gratitude for her as it seems to me a testament to the strength of her heart’s commitment to serving women as they navigate the mystery, power and transformation of birth. I’m grateful that we have this kind of presence and passion available for our childbearing community at UVA.
-- Sara Zia