FOR THE LOVE OF MIDWIVES
I have long been fascinated with the work of The Midwife.
After all, I’ve had approximately 170 children (okay three, but it feels like a lot more) and have thus spent a lot of time in labour wards, and have seen their work up close. (Okay not so close – they tended to be down the other end from my eyes, but you know what I mean.) And I found my births to be magical beyond belief.
How lucky were they to be able to participate in such joy?
More importantly, how could they possibly do it without weeping?
Still, even before I had my babies, the Midwife’s work seemed to be almost mythically fulfilling. What other professional gets to witness the miracle of life, day after day day?
Well, obstetricians, obviously… but they have to do all the boring stuff beforehand too – measure the uterus, examine urine samples, perform ultrasounds, and counsel highly anxious pregnant women who are convinced that they have damaged their unborn child by breathing in oven cleaner fumes*.
The midwives, on the other hand, just come in for the fun stuff, and help another beautiful baby to come into the world.
“Do you ever get tired of it?” I asked each of my midwives during each of my three births (until my capacity for logic and speech deserted me and all I could do was yell “Ah ah ah ah AGGGGH!” and “KILL ME!” in equal measure).
“Never,” they unfailingly said. Which I suppose meant either that they never get tired of watching babies be born, or they were too polite to say to me, “Actually, I’m bored shitless right now, but you seem agitated enough that a human head is about to push its way through your vagina, so I don’t wish to burden you with my work ennui.”
Still, I don’t know how they do it.
The only births I’ve seen live were those of my own kids, and it’s not surprising I was a little emotional at those, but every single time I see a birth on TV or at the movies I sob. Every. Single. Time. It doesn’t matter if the birth is real, or dramatized, or in an episode of The Simpsons, I sob. I can never fail to be profoundly moved by the wonder of it all.
A glorious scene from the BBC’s much-anticipated new series, Call The Midwife.
And yet the midwives remain cheerful, but calm and composed. Now, I acknowledge that a sobbing midwife would be not be a great support to the patient. What’s more, a team of crying nurses would become a drain on the medical system.
Still, I honestly don’t know how they manage to control themselves. It’s a new baby for goodness’ sake!!!
I was assisted by a variety of midwives during my three stays in hospital. There was the gorgeous young midwife who rubbed my back and helped me into, and out of (and then into, and out of) the bath. There was the matronly, brusque midwife, who remained business-like at the business end, patting my thigh awkwardly as she left. There was the mean, mean midwife, who woke me at the crack of dawn the morning after my baby was born, even though we’d both been up all night crying.
And then there was Max the mid-husband, who asked politely if I’d mind being attended by a male. Apparently some laboring women had a problem with men (presumably because a man got them in that state?) but I couldn’t care less.
Quite frankly, my midwives could have had three penises and a tail; if they propped up my pillows and offered me gas and morphine, they were definitely a friend to me.
I’m still entranced by the work of the Midwife – the caring, the brusque, the mean, the male. Their job still seems to be one of the best in the world, and I feel sure that they are very special people.
But how they manage not to weep whenever a baby is born, well… it will always be a mystery to me.
*Or perhaps that was just me.
Have you encountered a special midwife?
What do midwives mean to you?*This post is sponsored by BBC DVD.
*Kerri Sackville is a writer who lives in Sydney with her husband and three kids. Her first book was When My Husband Does the Dishes and her second book The Little Book of Anxiety is out now. You can follow Kerri’s blog here and catch up with her on Twitter here.