2019 is a special year for me. I was reminded by a friend that October marked our 10 year Midwife anniversary! 10 years since we started out together in our first Midwife jobs. 10 years since I took my first baby steps as a brand new Midwife at the Royal Free Hospital in London. I can clearly remember my first shift at ‘The Free’, absolutely terrified on the inside, suddenly missing the comfort and familiarity of the hospital and the people that I had trained with, and left behind only a few months earlier. I remember that feeling of having completely underestimated the weight of the responsibility I now held with my new found Midwife title. Thrown in on a night shift, I remember my shaking hands, dry mouth, and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I took handover for my very first patient as a ‘real Midwife’. I’d flown the student nest and landed in the Big Smoke. And what a ride it has been ever since! I’ve worked in many different places, it’s taken me across The Pond and back, I’ve held duel Midwifery licenses in both the U.S and the UK, my uniform has changed colour a few times, and I dread to think the number of pens I must have gone through with all the notes I’ve written in (bring on paperless charting)!
10 years on and you can still find a pile of birth books by my bed to fuel my passion, and I am committed to learning new things every day about this incredible profession, and I continue to aspire to be the best Midwife I possibly can! But the job isn’t all baby snuggles and tea and cake, although those parts are fun. The role is not quite as rose-tinted as I once imagined it would be. The job is physically and emotionally grueling at times (let’s face it, most of the time in the NHS if I’m honest). There have been times when I’ve had to put my own family aside, to be able to take care of someone else’s. Missed out on family events or parties, Christmases and New Years because of the Russian roulette of being ‘on call’, or just the demanding nature of our shifts-babies will stop for no one, or no public holiday! There are massive highs but also massive lows. But despite all of that, despite my complaints, there is nothing that can dull the sparkle of being a Midwife.
My life in the birth world has been varied and has taught me a lot. Not just about Midwifery, but about life as a whole – the fundamental building blocks of humanity; relationships, love, grief, behaviours, emotions, communication, connection and trust. I have said this before, but I have grown up around this role. I have spent well over half of my life committed to this profession, and soaking up everything I can about this job. When I look back at myself as a teenager when I first started this journey, to myself now in my mid thirties, I am a completely different person. While some things are completely different, others have simply evolved. Maybe if I’d chosen a different profession, I’d be looking back over these 10 years and saying the same thing, but I doubt it. Midwifery is unique. You cannot walk the line with women through the most intimate moments in their lives, and not be moved yourself by the process. You cannot watch them face their fears, without facing yours.
What I love about this job is that you see people from all walks of life. All kinds of people have babies, from all kinds of different backgrounds, and that is what keeps it exciting. Much of what we do isn’t just about the babies, or all about the birth. A lot of what we do involves helping out in all sorts of different ways, because intrinsically as Midwives, we know it takes far more to becoming a parent, than simply having a baby.
There are few people outside of the Midwifery world, who can truly understand what it means to be a Midwife. Not just what the job is and what it involves, or what we do on a day to day basis – that bit is easy. But what stands at the heart of Midwifery.
Being a Midwife is who I am, and it runs deep in my core – always has, and always will. The ripples of birth go far beyond the delivery room, or even the postnatal period. Birth is transformational – not just for mum and dad, but for siblings, grandparents, extended family, friends and communities. Birth matters. Not just for one mum and one dad, but for EVERY mum, dad and child. Birth is more than a birth. Birth is just the beginning. It is the foundation of life. The one thing that connects us all as humans, is birth.
Every mother counts, and so does every baby. Having ‘a healthy mum and a healthy baby’ is the very minimum we should be striving for. We can do so much more. We need to make sure that every mother and baby thrives. And that is what I stand for.
To all my amazing colleagues, fellow midwives, birth workers, mums, dads, partners, babies and families I have had the honor of working with and learning from, and everyone who has supported me along the way… You are all amazing!
Here’s to the next 10 years!