|Thanks to Bec and Al for this picture|
In the past few weeks, in writing this blog, I have delved into personal memories and thoughts, preparing for and anticipating a particular birth. I expect this fact has been clear to many of my readers; many being women with whom I have shared that deep and wonderous journey. Although I usually write in an impersonal way of 'the woman' and 'the midwife', so much of my knowledge of midwifery is inextricably linked to my own experiences in childbearing and mothering - intensely personal. In many ways, I am the woman; I am the midwife; I am even the child.
Tonight as I sit at my computer, thinking of how I can express the wonder that is welling up in my heart, I hear the brief small cry of the wee one in another room of our home. I know she will soon be transported back into that milky dream world, her little body being nourished by the abundant supply that is freely given.
I treasure the memory of the first view of her beautiful face, and the ecstatic glow on her mother's face, as we three - mother, child, and midwife - three generations of a family - shared in the moment of birth. I look at her, and wonder what her life will bring. I practice using her name. This is a new name; a new person who I will treasure and pray for, for the rest of my days. I look at her features; the colour of her hair, the exquisite tone of her skin, the wonderfully made body. I observe the deep bond that is apparent in her mother, her father, and her 'big' brother; instinctive and intentional behaviours that protect the new child within a family unit. I have so much to be thankful for.
Yet even as I am awash in the joy and newness of new birth, I know there are times when even our best is insufficient. Times when a baby cries with tummy ache, or when a mother is overwhelmed with tiredness. Times when the needs of other children must be attended to. Times when we seek medical expertise for health problems that can sap us of energy. Times when our best is simply not good enough.
An abiding lesson that I have learnt from my contact over the years with newly born babies; my own children, the children of my friends and clients, and my grand-children, is the picture of the baby's craving for mother's milk. This analogy was drawn by Peter: "Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow." (1Peter 2:2)
In the same way as the newborn infant craves her mother's milk, and cannot be satisfied without it, the skill of the midwife is to work in harmony with this primal natural process.