“Wow! You are a midwife? What a wonderful job!”
Whenever someone greets me like this, I smile, I pause and then I say, “Yes”.
With my smile, I acknowledge this person’s excitement about midwifery (and most likely about birth). My smile also acknowledges the unending list of wonderful things that as I midwife I get to do: giving someone the happy news they have waited years to hear, listening to a baby’s heartbeat while the parents-to-be beam, helping a new baby slip safely into this world, caring for clients year after year, watching them grow into the strong, healthy and amazing women they were born to be. After I smile, I pause.
In that brief pause, I acknowledge all that is not so wonderful with this job, all the painful and difficult situations that I have midwifed clients through: infertility, infidelity, domestic abuse, poverty, physical or mental disease, miscarriage, termination, stillbirth, cancer, even maternal death. Unfortunately, this list is also unending.
In that pause, I honor babies that do not make it into this world and babies that cannot stay long. I honor the mothers that do not get to raise their babies (for so many different reasons). I honor the women whose bodies have betrayed them into disease, disability, even death. During this split second pause, I acknowledge the multitude of midwives the world over that do this work, day in and day out, in spite of sore joints, fatigue, strained budgets and family tensions.
In that momentary pause, I honor the wholeness of ths job. As a midwife, I get to participate intimately in the lives of women and their families. Midwives share the most ordinary and extraordinary moments, from PAP smears and prescriptions to the wild beauty of birth. We are honored guests at naming ceremonies, baptisms, birthdays and funerals. We offer our shoulders to weary heads and aching hearts. Our shirts soak up tears of heartbreak, frustration and unbridled joy.
When someone smiles and says, “Wow! You’re a midwife? What a wonderful job!” I smile. I pause. Then I say “Yes. Yes, I do have the most wonderful job!”
May all babies be born into loving hands