Ah, home. It’s far away for me at the moment, but there’s nothing like leaving your home to remind you of all the things you value about it. I’m experiencing a new normal, these hot humid days which mean normal is a constant shiny layer of sweat on my skin. It’s normal now to drink lukewarm water, because refrigerator space is tight and our clean water comes in big blue drums that sit on the kitchen bench, not in the fridge.
The midwives here work with a different kind of normal too. For them, it’s normal to work day on-day off. They arrive with their husbands and children at the birthing home at the start of their shift, and then they live and breathe midwifery together as families joined by the midwifery calling. By day, it’s normal for the midwives children to peek around the handle-less doors to check in with midwife-mum in the middle of a labour. Children sit around the dining table doing homework projects while a 4-day old baby is brought in for a checkup. The midwives put down their knitting during a quiet moment to share in the fresh doughy sugarbuns one of the husbands has brought up fresh from the bakery at the bottom of the hill.
At the end of the day, the well-worn lounge furniture is moved around and the husbands bring out the mattresses and mosquito nets to set up the communal sleeping area for the night. Women come into the home in labour and are ushered past this mass slumber by the on-call midwife into a birthing room. So this really is a home, these families live this week-by-week life together in this special place. It’s a home, where women birth. It’s a home, where new families emerge after the hard work of bringing life into the world. It’s a home, where friends and co-workers sit a share a meal, laugh about life and enjoy each others knowledge and stories. And the huge heart of this place has made me feel at home too.