the midwife`s journal < contents

1. introduction
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The women, their babies, their loved ones - all very special. Each woman and each situation unique.

I am taken into the woman's life for the brief months of the pregnancy, and the early days of her baby's life. We call it a partnership. I am the midwife, with woman. Afterwards I file away my records, and add a few more photos to my picture board.

I am careful to keep detailed records of each birth - I have been accustomed to this practice over many years, before becoming independent. I am told that good records are a midwife's best defence in a court of law. That is the dark side. I shudder at the thought. Please God, protect me, and all who are in my care.

Perhaps it is that shadow which has made me appreciate the act of writing a journal. My journal allows me to describe my memories; my experiences -MY journey. I can write as little or as much as I want to. There are no rules or restrictions. I write in a way that is very different from professional record-keeping. It is a personal link between me and the woman. It is in my hand-writing. If I have photos I put them on the opposite pages. I make a copy for each woman after making the journal entry.

One morning I was woken at 3 O'clock, was with the woman birthing as the early morning light filtered gently into the room, and returned home weary in the late morning. On this particular day I was conscious of my need to emotionally complete the event as soon as possible. The house is quiet. I made a cup of tea, and sat down with my pen and journal at the big table. I could smell vernix on my right arm, and this seemed to connect me with the mother and her new-born child. I did not want to have a shower and get on with the day's work until I had written what was in my mind. I held on to the memory of the woman's intense quietness as she laboured; her whisper to me ''I'm feeling very vulnerable now'' just before her waters broke; and the beautiful smiles on her face, and the faces of her husband and two daughters as they gazed at the baby boy who lay on the bed - before she had even taken him up into her arms. It was a long moment, the petite mother kneeling above her child, and the family completing the circle. I wanted to record the memory of spring in Gippsland, native wattles and introduced daffodils, both intense and vibrant yellow.

I had begun to write when the phone rang. I answered it and dealt with it quickly. There were a couple of messages on the answering machine, but I did not listen to them. I wrote a few more lines. Then Bec arrived home. She had had only one class that morning, and she wanted to chat about her current project. I felt terribly torn. I love to talk with our children, and my young adult daughters share many of their experiences with me. But I had this urgent need to complete my side of the birthing experience, I was quite spent emotionally, and I struggled to know what to do. Eventually I completed a single page, and I knew that it would be enough.

In writing this today I am revisiting those memories, not so much the birth, but the human struggle of being who I am.

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