the midwife`s journal < contents

3. birthing ~ a mystery journey
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The woman was confident, in charge, the organiser, the manager: always efficient and enthusiastic.

The woman set out to become well informed about, and fully involved in her new venture - having a baby.

This is the woman whose body became stressed by the pregnancy; whose blood pressure often hovered just above the acceptable level. Then there were blood sugar tests, insulin, and frequent monitoring of the baby's condition. These the woman accepted with difficulty as necessary intrusions into her ordered life. There was the talk about a large baby, and the need for induction.

You were on a mission. We talked about what all this meant for you and your baby. I admire your trust and resolute action in the face of so many set-backs. You made preparation for your child in achieving agreement about the use of donor milk. It would have been foolish of us not to plan for your baby's possible low blood sugar levels and subsequent need for extra milk in those early hours. And you did it!

When I phoned the hospital Nursery the morning after she was born I was told by the night nurse "Oh that baby's fine. We've just been feeding it with donor EBM (expressed breast milk), and the true blood sugars are OK". That was the best news. I was quite overwhelmed with a sense of relief and achievement.

I think I was afraid deep down that something would go wrong about the milk. This is uncharted territory, you know. We were pushing at a barrier that has been unchallenged for generations. I had advised you to the best of my ability. You had trusted my advice.

Your waters broke of their own accord! That was a major mile-stone in your mystery journey. Together we anticipated the onset of labour.

The series of events which culminate in the birth of a baby are incredibly complex. In giving birth a woman must proceed through a course which is of unknown duration and unpredictable in many ways. She must submit to extreme forces which open her womb and expel her child.

But your mystery journey took you through frustration and fear. Your body was not able to achieve what it so obviously wanted to do. I grieved quietly as the process became ineffective. Your own loved ones seemed unable to reach you. We struggled through that long day, distressed by our own inability to share your journey.

I was terribly tired and emotionally drained by the time the little transport isolette was wheeled out of the operating theatre. I rushed to see your child. I did not need to know any details - just seeing her was enough. The beautiful pale face, like fine porcelain; the thick black baby-hair; the long moulded head - I knew all that I needed to know at that time. I pushed my way into the lift, and quickly and incoherently explained who I am. I took a couple of photos. I did this as your midwife.

As I write I am able to reflect on the preceeding events. I am conscious of my own need to complete the experience that I have had with each woman. My partnership with her will soon be over, and I must move on to other women as they progress towards their time. I write in the hope that what I have recorded will help the woman to treasure her own experience, whether the mystery journey progressed as she had expected, or took her to a different place.

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