As a midwife in private practice, I am almost always on call. From the time any client is within three weeks of her due date until she births, I am at the ready. That means that I always am within earshot of my phone, my Apple-watch strapped to my wrist, that my gas tank is at least a quarter full, that I do not drink a second glass of wine, that I going to bed early just in case....
Vacation for many people means time away: time at the beach, time at their camp or cabin, traveling to a destination like Disney or Paris.
For midwives like me, vacation means all of that. But, more importantly, vacation, means that I can walk away from my phone, that I can be out of cell range, that I can have a second glass of wine, that I can stay up late reading for the sheer pleasure of reading until my eyes are blurry, not concerned that I will be called out at any moment. At this point in my life, vacation means that for a brief period of time, I can take care of just me.
Currently, I am on vacation. I have left my practice and its beloved clients in the able hands of my office staff and a wonderful midwife colleague. Probably none of my clients will need anything urgent from the midwife covering my practice, but if they do, she will be there for them.
For my whole life, various what-if's have spoken loudly in my head. This is a character trait that both helps and hurts me. I always have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C mapped out in my brain. Going to a movie with my husband: Plan A is we drive home together no one in labor needing me, Plan B is I drop him off at home on the way to a laboring mom, Plan C is I hightail it from the theatre and he takes an Uber. For me, to be on vacation means that the basic answer to a what-if query is simply "someone else can handle it". Plan A, B and C involves strolls along the beach, naps, dinner plans and snuggling. On vacation, I remind myself that I am not indispensable -the world gets on fine without me, that my practice manages fine without me, that my clients do just fine without me. This is all as it should be: none of us are indispensable, and, it is a good thing for all sentient beings to actively remember their unimportance from time to time.
Last night, I played chess with my husband with the phone on silent, I sipped some rum before dinner and drink some wine during dinner, I took a bath with my phone charging in (gasp) the other room), I read late into the night until the book dropped from my hands.
This morning, I woke on an island off the coast of Maine. The breeze is soft, the birds sound happy and the ocean beckons. This morning, I slept until the cock crowed (literally), and then went back to sleep. Plan A is to be on vacation until its time to leave. Getting home to my clients means packing, walking to the dock, catching a ferry, walking to the parking lot to fetch our car, and then driving five hours to my home-office. There isn’t a more efficient Plan B or Plan C. So, I am simply present here, now.
For a few days, hundreds of miles from my practice, I am actively remembering that I am both important and unimportant. I am a midwife on vacation.
K. Michelle Doyle
May all babies be born into loving hands