the midwife`s journal < contents

24. gentle strong woman
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Each birth, each baby, comes in its own fullness of time. The moment of intense energy and action passes. The woman takes up her role as mother-nurturer, the father as protector-provider, and I move on.

Each birthing experience offers me a great opportunity to learn and thereby to profit. I am able to hold on to only a tiny fraction of that abundance. It is as though a vast room of treasures is opened to me briefly, and I can take away all that my senses are able to accommodate in that moment.

The image I am recording today is what met my eyes when I arrived at your home, too late for the birth. You sat in the birthing pool, your bare shoulders damp and glistening in the soft light. Your head was high, your back very straight. In your arms you cradled your new baby to your breast. Your face glowed with pride, quietly triumphant. You and your man have told me how it happened. You alone share those memories, your very special experience together.

We waited for the birth of your baby’s placenta. The pulsations of the cord had ceased, and you got out of the water. Then there was a wave of unease seemed to pass quickly through your body, and you shivered. This was my cue to reassure you, let your body do its work, and the afterbirth came free.

There is no reason to hurry in a birth. Time takes on a new quality. But we must proceed without unnecessary delay. The woman’s energy is largely spent, and her time for resting and renewal must come. A cup of tea, salty vegemite on crackers, some fruit – we all partake in a simple festive meal.

By the time you and your little one were resting quietly in your bed I began to put together the sequence of events in my mind and make some notes. I, the outsider, try to understand the unique process that occurs in your family as you welcome a new baby.

The partnership between me and a woman for the birth of her child is brief, and often very limited. The few hours of preparation prior to the birth cannot take me to a deep level of understanding her complex make-up. I attempt to open up discussion on important issues without intruding. My place in her home is one of great privilege.

During our short months of preparation I had come to see you as a very gentle young woman. I saw this in the way you related to your husband and your children. And the gentleness and caring was reciprocated. Your quiet unassuming approach to other people contrasts with the strong confident woman who had just given birth.

Giving birth in her own time and place often allows a woman to tap an intuitive strength that is not usually apparent in her behaviour. Even in the preparation for the birth you took action to enhance your wellness, to protect your body through a better diet, and to prepare emotionally for the event. When your baby was ready to come you were ready to release him in that great climax of birth.

As I got to know you better I became aware that your marriage was an especially important reality in your life. The photos and the framed marriage certificate told me more of the value you placed on your partnership. Your man’s unconditional love for you and your children was shown in many ways. In working with you, the birthing woman, I try to do all I can to respect and enhance that bond. Once again I remind myself that I am the outsider, with you for just a short time.

I wrote my notes and filled out the required paperwork, surrounded by the sense of achievement and gratefulness that fills a place after a baby has been born. I had a strong awareness that this birth, without any outsiders present, had affirmed the union between you and your man in a very special way. Birthing without a midwife in attendance had not, I am sure, been by conscious intention. Your baby had come in his own time, into the waiting hands of his father who passed him to you. His birth became an intimate, personal, shared moment for you to treasure forever.

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