Kim Pekin newborn exam

The Whispered Calling to Midwifery

Kim Pekin newborn exam

I think I always wanted to be a midwife, but I just didn’t know what that was until much later in my life. After I became a midwife, I found out my great-grandmother was a midwife, so maybe the calling is something I knew at a cellular level somehow. When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with birth and babies, and just absolutely amazed by pregnancy. All of my Barbie dolls were continuously pregnant or nursing their little babies. I always had a Baby Alive baby doll with me. I dreamed of the day that I’d somehow become a mother myself. I remember my mother bought a copy of Lennart Nilsson’s A Child Is Born back in 1974, when I was 8 years old, and I read it over and over again. I felt so full of awe by seeing the progression of how two individual cells could somehow manage to form a complete human being. It still boggles my mind to this day. Such an amazing miracle!

When I was a teenager, I thought I wanted to be an obstetrician. I didn’t know anything about midwives. It was 1980 at the time, and we were a really mainstream family. I didn’t know anyone who had given birth at home, and I thought that midwives had gone out of existence long ago. My mother quickly talked me out of the idea of becoming an obstetrician saying, “Oh, you don’t want to do that, Kim! You’d be on call all the time and would have to get up in the middle of the night to go to births!” I laugh about it now, because, well, that’s my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I had my first child in 1989. I was very excited to finally get to experience this miracle of pregnancy and birth myself! I wanted the best possible care, of course, which to me at the time meant hiring an OB/GYN and having a hospital birth. There was no Internet back then, and I knew of no other way. I read a lot of books. Unfortunately, the books I read weren’t the most helpful ones for preparing to have a natural birth, rather they were much more helpful in preparing me to be a compliant patient. I was very naive and thought that if I wanted a natural birth, all I had to do was tell the hospital staff and doctor that’s what I wanted, and they would support my choice. I had no idea that hospitals weren’t really set up that way for birth. I ended up having a very interventive hospital birth, but somehow escaped a c-section. Looking back, it’s truly a miracle that I ended up with a vaginal birth with my first child. I credit a lack of health insurance and a patient doctor with my outcome.

My next two births were highly interventive hospital births, as well. There was a lot of trauma I had to work through with those births. By the time I had my third baby, I had gotten to the point where I felt like my body was broken somehow. I felt like I needed all of those medical interventions in order to give birth. I lacked confidence as a mother, and I lacked confidence in myself and my ability to make good choices for my care. That idealistic young woman who thought having a natural birth was just a choice and not something I’d have to work for, had quietly dissolved into a compliant, timid, defeated person. The joy I had hoped would come from birth was replaced with fear.

I decided with my fourth baby things would be very different. By that time, I had become a La Leche League Leader, and many of my friends had been choosing to give birth at home with midwives. I wondered if I could be “strong enough” to do that too. Could I do it? Did I have it in me? My friends encouraged me to talk with a midwife and learn more.

After that first meeting, I felt like I’d come home. For the first time as a pregnant woman, I felt like my provider had actually listened and heard what I said. I spent over an hour with the midwife, sharing about my previous births, discussing my hopes and fears, and learning more about what midwifery care was all about. She accepted me into her care, and I was on my way!

I worked really hard. My husband and I attended our 12-week Bradley Method Childbirth classes, we read all sorts of books, practiced our relaxation exercises, ate really well, prepared our home, and did everything our midwives recommended we do to prepare ourselves for our home birth. In the end, I had a beautiful, wonderful home birth, with all of my older children, my mother, and my husband in attendance. Afterwards, my midwife whispered in my ear, “See, your body knows just what to do.” She was absolutely right, and it transformed my life. It took a whisper to hear the calling to midwifery.

That home birth was the impetus for great change in my life. I went on to start my own business. I was fearless! I built my own home-based business and had over 500 people selling for me around the country. I published a catalog several times each year. I created my own line of personal care products. None of these things were things I knew how to do before, but I knew that if I could give birth naturally after feeling as defeated as I had felt, I could figure out how to do all of the rest of these things somehow.

My true love was midwifery, though. Midwifery is what helped me to have the confidence in myself to become the person I was meant to be, and I needed to make that my life’s work. The timing was right. I made the decision to close my business, go back to school, and devote my attention full time to becoming a midwife.

Being a midwife allows me to be part of an incredibly transformative journey for a woman and for her whole family. I love seeing women grow in confidence in their ability to grow and birth their babies, and I feel so deeply touched to witness how couples and entire families strengthen their relationship with each other by working together during this special time. Midwives speak of feeling honored and privileged to be part of this, and those are not just words for us. I know, from my own experience, just how meaningful this experience is. I appreciate so much when someone asks me to help them on their journey, and feel deeply honored to be given the opportunity to serve their family. I feel a certain reverence knowing the impact the experience can have upon their life.