I’ve been asked to reflect on why I chose to be a midwife. I wonder, if perhaps I never really chose it – but it chose me. An enigma of sorts.
I’ve been asked to reflect on why I enjoy it. I know that answer, it’s simply because it’s my passion – but sometimes at 4am I do wish it wasn’t. A conundrum of sorts.
I’ve been asked to reflect on how my work impacts on my personal life. I can answer this with great honesty – it impacts virtually my every minute. A millstone of sorts.
Midwives are a unique breed, that is for sure. And our genetically closest cousins are Obstetricians. We understand each other closer than any other health professionals can – but we don’t actually walk in each other’s shoes. As midwives we can’t know the intensity of performing mind-boggling Obstetric surgeries, with everyone looking to us to “save-the-day” almost every shift. And as doctors, they can’t know the intensity of spending 16, 18, 20 hours alongside one woman while her labouring body dilatates her cervix, as we midwives remind her to breathe, every third minute. But we both bear witness to the wondrous joy in a woman’s eyes as her own miracle, which was grown deep inside her being, is placed naked and wet into her arms. To us as midwives women hug us tightly saying “I couldn’t have done it without you!” About the Obstetrician women sometimes say “He seemed rather grumpy”, when what we all as women should be saying is “Thank God for the Doctor’s skills!”
I chose midwifery because at the time it seemed so amazing to be routinely present at the birth of a new human being. “Like, WOW!’ is what I thought as a mother myself giving birth … “One day, I want to do that job”. And now I do.
From a practical perspective, having come from 20 years in the Travel Industry which is notoriously run by the “young and hip”, I also saw midwifery’s advantage as a career I could opt to do until I was “old and grey”. Yet from an impractical perspective, changing careers meant years at University, earning nothing, and actually paying to attend, with three young children to juggle, and a single household income from my husband. To describe those years at University as “hard” is such an understatement, it’s almost sarcasm.
In my case, I had also become a motherhood author – so there was the added reality of study meaning I needed to put aside my ‘unwritten potential’ writing career (and ‘unwritten potential’ income). It ended up five years between books – a lifetime in publishing after a best-seller, but my call. These days some colleagues treat me with respect for being a writer, others seem to somehow despise it. But authors can’t worry about others’ judgments, because we expose our inner selves printed in hardcopy for everyone to read. I am who I am.
I chose LMC work from before even starting the Degree. I had already been self-employed for more than a decade, so could describe myself as virtually unemployable. I love the LMC lifestyle of being in charge of most of my days, and being able to do most of my job during school hours (antenatals, postnatals). I love no-one telling me I have to be at work at 7am for five days in a row.
I also can potentially be a rather A-type controlling planner by nature, so this job forces me to let go of the reigns, which is good for my soul … for I never know, until that next minutes’ 60 seconds have elapsed, what might happen each minute of my life. My phone can ring in the middle of a deep sleep (labour is a nocturnal activity); in the middle of my kids excitedly telling me about their day; in the middle of a lovely bbq with dear friends; in the middle of a poo; in the middle of making love. My cell-phone is attached to me like a petal attached to a flower stem, or like a yoke attached to oxen. It’s its own oxymoron.
Midwifery Down Sides: The toll it takes on our own Body (we have bad backs and sore feet and aching legs, routinely). The toll it takes on our Marriage (we need an amazingly tolerant partner, or forget it). The toll it takes on our children (who learn about forgiveness, as they forgive the fact that we unpredictably – unreliably – “miss” too much of their life).
Midwifery Up Sides: The gift it gives our Spirit (we routinely see miracles occur, and doing so is a humbling honour). The gift to our Marriage (we can appreciate life’s blessings, because our job exposes us to some of life’s deepest sadnesses). The gift it gives to our children (who learn earlier than their peers, to become independent confident human beings, because they’ve had to).
Midwifery for me – perhaps for many of us, most of us – is at its core: After the gruelling, exhausting, oftentimes seemingly endless hours of labour … assisting a woman to finally achieve the euphoric, rapturous, ecstatic elation, of BIRTH.
Midwifery is about LIFE!