Saturday, November 19, 2011


bonsai Japanese Maple
Members of my family are at present dealing with major challenges as they progress along the pathway towards the birth of a child.

I am a midwife who seeks to promote, protect and support wellness and wholeness in pregnancy, birth and the nurture of a baby. This is the usual situation for most women.

I would like to especially acknowledge anyone who finds themself on an unexpected, and really unwanted (if they had been able to choose) pathway in the journey to a birth.

With this in mind, I am linking this post to the blog of my nephew Dave and his wife Petrina, whose unborn baby is being treated for heart failure. As I read through the posts at their blog I am confronted again and again with the uncertainties of this particular case. I am also thankful for the openness and clarity with which these young parents have attempted to share some of their feelings - not knowing where the journey will take them.

Most of you who read my blogs will be doing so out of your interest in midwifery.  The question to the midwife is, how can I be midwife, 'with woman', when the overwhelming focus of care and decisions that are being made are intensely medical; when the birth of this baby will almost certainly be surgical, and contact between mother and baby will almost certainly be minimal as a new team of specialists assumes care for him or her.

Any complicated pregnancy presents this challenge, to a greater or lesser degree.  Increasingly specialist medical knowledge and technology are pitting themselves against conditions that would previously have been incompatible with life - this phenomenon appears to be unstoppable from the perspective of science and medicine.  Where there is any hope of life, parents are likely to give permission for whatever is offered.

We say that every woman giving birth needs a midwife.  The midwife for a woman in a complex and challenging medical birth focuses on the woman as a whole person - not just as the carrier of a very special baby.  Many of the plans that are made by women approaching normal-physiological birth cannot be considered.  The baby's *condition*, or the *complication* take on leading roles in the story that is being played out in real time.   

If you have read this far, you might wonder why I have included a picture of a little bonsai tree from my garden.  The reason is, that in a special way, I learn lessons from tending these wonderful but fragile plants.  There is a sense of connection between a living thing and its carer, as I know that without daily care and special knowledge this tree will die.  There is such beauty in the changes that come with seasons - I had previously posted a picture of this tree in the winter, having lost its leaves.  These miniature trees offer me a special life focus, as I tend the creature, and seek to work in harmony with the Creator.

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