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Saturday, 24 December 2011

The same, but different.

"Oh my gosh, you have to hear this!"

I couldn't help but phone my husband in the middle of it... just to share (and to gloat, but mostly to share). I was smack-bang in the middle of a swirling pool of sound - soaring African melodies all around me and those voices were lifting the roof with joy! I was blessed to be attending a midwifery-student-friend's daughters wedding - a full-regalia Zimbabwean wedding with all the colour, costume and music you could imagine. Sadly for me, Kelly hadn't been able to attend - the wedding fell on the same day as our children's Sunday School concert... so we had split up between the two events...

Now I am an African music lover from way back - as my CD collection will attest. So to be sitting amidst live, impromptu songs of praise and celebration gave me quite a thrill - and I really wanted Kelly to share in the experience. "Can you hear that!?!?!?" I was yelling down the phone. (Honestly, how could he NOT have heard!)

So the wedding was completely amazing. But guess what? Even though the colour, the sounds, the multi-language conversations and all that beautiful wedding joy was quite something, there was just one thing on my mind on the long drive home...

We're all SO different, but really, we are all the same.


And so it is with birth, too.

Rich or poor, black or white, young or old, surrounded by whanau, or on your own, birth is THE great leveller. It meets you at the door and says: You know what? You're mine now. Doesn't matter who you were yesterday, today you are a birthing woman, just like the thousands of other woman around the world who are doing this right now. Your pain is the same as their pain. Your anxiety is the same as theirs. The doubts about your ability to cope mirror those that are running through their minds. Dirt floor or sterilised hospital birthing suite - in the middle it's you and me, together. A birthing woman.

As a student midwife, and in the years leading up to this, I have attended many births, with women from many walks of life. It never ceases to amaze me that regardless of who is birthing, she needs the same basic things:
To feel safe
To feel loved
To be told that she is doing a great job
To be reassured that she CAN do it
And to know that until she has, you aren't going to leave her alone...

Ah, birth.
Full of colour, costume and soaring voices.
All so different; yet, all the same.
All amazing.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Holding on to the future.

We all have a birth experience. Our unique walk on this planet began with a unique birth experience - in which we were brought forth and started to be the person we are now. Track backwards through all of your life's rich experience - each shaping you into your current form - it all started from your birth. 

It is a priviledge to see the beginning of a new person. A midwife shares in a small portion of a whole life - the first 4 - 6 weeks or thereabouts. Usually, it's just enough time to see a glimpse of a baby's future self. One day, these newborn babies will become adults - what will they be like then?

I love to hear a mother talk about her unborn child and share what they know about them already - how baby moves, how they react to familiar voices, when they wake and when they sleep. The stories about the rascally ones who kick their dad in the back when he's trying to sleep in. The 3am flip-floppers when mum is trying to sleep. Then there's the ones that make this student midwife grin: after a longer-than-usual 'learning' palpation - kicking back at my hands ("hey man, this is MY space - back off!"). So even before they are born, they are already giving us a hint as to their future personality...

The other day I looked down at a freshly-born little person and thought: Today is the start of your future.  Fast forward, and one day it could be you in this room, catching babies. You could be the doctor that was here earlier, or the administrator that took the call when we were coming in. And one day, when I am most likely long gone from this earth, you could be pacing these very corridors, waiting for your grandchild to be born...

But today you're here; and its you being born. Full of potential, bundled up in a perfect little body, primed for learning.  I wonder if our paths will cross again, when you are grown?

When a midwife catches a new baby, she holds - ever so briefly - the future in her hands. She can look straight into those first-blinking eyes of a new person - who will go on to influence the world in ways we can't even imagine yet...

source: google images
I can't think of better hands for the future to start in...