|Posted on 6 August, 2019 at 0:55||comments (0)|
Some time ago I was honoured to be asked to speak about birth from the persepctive of a Midwife and recently I recieved a request to share the talk I gave, I have decided to add it here as Birthsisters first Blog post as I feel that it speaks my truth, blessings to you, Meg.
I have been asked to come along and speak about birth from the perspective of a Midwife. I have been a birth junkie for more than half of my life, and I can literally talk about birth for hours, possibly even days. However, being asked to speak from the perspective of “midwife’ has been an unexpected challenge for me and something I had never really thought about. After much reflection, these are the things that came to me that I want to share with you; forgive me if I ramble and repeat myself a bit.
I can only speak about this for myself, from my journey as Midwife, because just as every pregnancy and birth is unique and follows its own wonderful path so to every midwife is unique and has their own path to follow. For me Midwifery is my calling, it is not my job, it is who I am and simply what I must do. So from this perspective here are the things I want to share with you tonight.
I want you to know, that Birth, for me is so many things, it has so many facets and dimensions, it is both fluid and complex, yet solid and simple at the same time. Birth, for me, is truly magic come to life.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about being a Midwife, is what an amazing honor it is; I get to be with women at one of their most intimate moments, and women trust me with this moment, Women and their families invite me into their sacred birthing space. I want you to know that I can’t express enough how honored this makes me feel, how privileged I am to be permitted to be a part of your lives in this moment. I want you to know that as midwife this is something that I never take for granted, as midwife I am always amazed at the strength and fearlessness of women. I am honored at your willingness to open yourselves up to me, to allow me into your world for this short period of time to be of service to you. It is an absolute honor to be of service to my sisters in this way, and I thank you for that. I am honored that the men in that birthing space, trust me not only with their precious life partner, but also their child. What a honor that is for me.
I want you to know that as a midwife I find the limited birthing options women have on the Mid North coast incredibly frustrating, and at times deeply distressing. However, what it does show me is how amazingly strong women are, how resilient, how resourceful and powerful women are. Faced with minimal or no choice of where to birth, women are standing strong in in their right about how and when they will birth, standing strong in their right to accept or decline care. As Midwife, this gives me hope. As Midwife, this gives me the drive to go back again and continue this work for our sisters.
I want you to know, that because of the sacredness of birth, and the complexity that the birth can be, being a Midwife is also a huge responsibility. Obstetric care is becoming more complex and medicalized, the work load, level of expertise and advanced skills midwives are required to have is ever increasing. And we continue to rise to the challenge. As midwife, we are responsible for 2 lives concurrently, we often work through breaks, often going hours without a drink or a wee break. We manage complex monitoring, medications and medical conditions whilst aiming to honor and protect your birthing wishes. I want you to know it is hard work; midwives work really hard. And I want you to know we wouldn’t change it. Birth is hard work, women work hard, and we will be right there beside you. It is what I am called to do. Sometimes we are running between two rooms, or more. I may have something very difficult going on in the other room that I am managing, but when I am in your room, I am with you, in your space, on your journey. You will never know what I am managing behind the door. It is my job to protect your space from that, and I will. But sometimes this is really tough.
Midwifery is a journey of learning, with no destination. I want you to know that being with you in your labor and birth, whatever that may be, an epidural IOL, an elective section, a SVB, teaches me something every single time. Women and babies are so infinitely wise, being a Midwife is about being, being present, being aware – silently, watching, assessing; when we do this, we learn. No text books can teach us what we learn from you and your babies. You are the experts. Not us.
The “moments’ never get old. I never get tired of seeing a baby lift its head and look around for dad in a noisy theater, there might be 10 staff in there and that baby hears dad and looks for him. Every time my heart swells. There is a moment, when a Mumma sees that baby for the first time, when she sees what she has done. You know that moment, right? When that Mumma instinctually reaches out, down, scoops up that squishy goodness she has just brought earth side with a look of absolute wonder on her face. Often, she will look at her partner and say, ‘it’s a baby’ like she forgot what she was doing. I am so blessed, I have a collage of snapshots, like still life images in full colour, in my memory of those moments I have been blessed enough to witness that I can replay at will. One of these moments I recall vividly is of a 19 year old who birthed her 1st baby, squatting on the floor and she scooped that baby up like she had done it a thousand times before; I think I will take that memory with me to the grave. I can see it like it was yesterday. Or the day I supported a Dad to catch his own baby, when I mentioned it at the start of the day I thought he might faint, by the end of the day he was in there and ready. He birthed his baby, along side his wife, the three of them working together with me as bystander – as it should be when all is well. After the birth was done and I was finishing up the dad came to me in tears and thanked me. He spoke about what a life changing moment this was for him, and that, what I did not know at the time, was that I had actually birthed their first baby and guided this Mum to catch her own baby at that time. For this Dad, the realization that his wife had caught their first baby and he their second was absolute magic. And I got to witness. How lucky am I.
These are moments I use to get me through when things are not great. As midwives, we walk a fine line between life and death and sometimes we cross over that line. Those babies, born silent or born to soon, are precious memories too and a part of my calling that I actually love, as hard as they are. For me, there is no greater honor than being invited into this sacred time, handling these precious babies and being of service to their families. We cannot make it better, but we can provide love when there is nothing else to give. These are the shifts that I get home from and head for the shower, I have a tapestry cloth, with little hand stitched flowers on it, if I get this out my family know it has been a bad day and leave me alone, and after my bath I go and sit alone and add another flower to my cloth, and a few more tears, then I pack it away and move forward. But I never forget. I know every flower on that cloth.
Some shifts I leave feeling on top of the world and have a birth buzz for days, there is nothing like feeling like I have honored my calling and been of service to the women I have cared for. Then there are some shifts where I cry the entire drive home and feel that I have failed or that the system has failed and I don’t know how I can go back. Sometimes I worry about you, the women I have worked with, you fill my dreams, if I can sleep, and I can spend days reflecting on a situation; being a midwife is not a 9-5, walk out of the office and leave it all behind kind if job. When I get like this, I have a huge cry with my husband who is a diesel mechanic and has no idea what I am talking about but gets my distress and knows deeply my passion for this work, and then I usually ring my beautiful friend Sharnie who is also a birth worker or my sister who is a homebirth Midwife and debrief, (they tell me to get over myself) then I put my big girl pants back on, dust myself off and get into it again.
So, birth for a midwife can be an intense time of machines, monitoring, intravenous lines, concentration, watching, making clinical assessments and decisions, intensity, medications, balancing out risk vs benefits; it can be calm and smooth, gentle and peaceful, pacing along beautifully, however it progresses I am there, honoring, guiding, watching over you and your baby……………..sometimes for an hour, sometimes for 12 hours, and then, eventually, when the time is just right, the baby comes. Sometimes in one big gush, or via surgical incision, or assisted with instrumental birth or other times gently emerging, tiny bit by tiny bit, little by little, eventually a little human arrives. Your human. The one you made, the two of you together. And this little human uncurls right before my eyes. I bear witness as the ‘pink’ that is oxygenation spreads from your baby’s chest to their limbs as they take their first breath; as they open their eyes, at first resistant to the light and slowly adjusting to this new world, I watch their little hands uncurl and feel for you, and bob their head around starting to look for a nipple. All the while I am still a clinician, I am monitoring you, assessing your baby, keeping you safe, but I get to do this as I watch as your new life begin. It is my belief that there is nothing more sacred than this moment, watching life come earth side, and being called to stand as guardian of this, for me, is what it is to be a Midwife. And for me, there is simply no greater honor. Megan Nourse