I drove to the home for the postnatal visit in the late morning. The baby had been born at home two nights previous. It had been a quick, powerful birth. The mother told me she knew her labour had commenced when she was putting her children to bed because she felt the urgency to settle them, and get on with her work of birth without distraction. She asked me to come without delay. I arrived at about 10pm. Labour was strong. The baby was born at 10.30, and welcomed lovingly into his mother's arms. The placenta came away soon after.
The mother greeted me at the door. She had obviously been crying.
"Are you alright?" I asked.
"The rabbit has died", she explained, "and I think I am having my third day blues."
We sat down together, had a cup of tea, and chatted. The baby was perfect. He was sleeping in his bassinet in his parents' bedroom. Feeding well at his mother's breast, skin colour good, passing urine and meconium - what more could a midwife want? Mother was strong, and her physical recovery from birth was progressing normally.
Our chat was interrupted by an urgent cry of pain from the toddler. Her little toe had been jammed in the door accidentally by her older brother. The mother's attention was diverted as she soothed her little one, the way mothers do.
A mother expects these minor crises to present unexpectedly, and she deals with them. It's part of being a mother. Mothers who choose homebirth, and who intentionally maintain their strong attachments with older babies in the early postnatal days demonstrate strength and courage in their mothering. Complexities of life don't somehow disappear because a new baby has been welcomed into a family.
I have been priviliged to attend this family for the births of several of their children. That continuity of care, not only through a pregnancy, but also in the continuum of a family's development, is precious. This is 'village' midwifery.