As I drive, alone in my car from my home to the home of the woman in labour, I enter a special time of reflection.
This past week I have attended the births of two babies, and in both instances I had about 45 minutes of driving. Both mothers called me in the 'wee hours', and each baby was born spontaneously and without incident at home. My aim in writing about something as ordinary as driving from my home to the woman's home for birth, then returning when it's all over - something that midwives have done since the beginning of time - is to hold on to a very special memory.
As I head out from my home my thoughts are initially focused on the task at hand. Gather the various bags containing the equipment and supplies I may need - all packed and ready to go. Paperwork for registering the birth and statistical reporting is also ready. Remember to take the oxytocics out of the fridge. Pick up an apple to eat on the way home. Water bottle. Possibly re-check the map if I am not confident of the directions.
Then, as I pull out of the driveway and head down the deserted street, my thoughts move to the mother who is labouring. In the night I see only the small, moving perimeter that is lit by the car's headlights. That's the special world I am entering.
Each mother in my care is an ordinary person - there are no idealistic notions of perfect bodies, perfect natural processes. It's a fallen world. I know some of her strength, and her vulnerability. She has told me some of her fears. I commit her to our loving Father's care, as she prepares to give birth.
I think about the baby. I know a little about this baby - the recorded, technical points such as gestation, heart rate, position, ... I have also put my hands over this baby, palpating and holding the precious little form in my two hands, through the covering of the mother's skin, and said "Hello baby" each time I have checked.
I think about the family. The father, and the siblings. What arrangements are being made for the care of the older children. Are there supportive grandparents on hand, or a strong community network?
Thus my mind is prepared for the birth journey which may be quick, or slow; may be uncomplicated, or difficult; may be as the mother anticipates, or not. I seek wisdom, strength, and courage as I enter the birthing space.
Now I am driving home, in the daylight.
I gather my thoughts about the mother, the baby, and the family I have just left. I ask God's protection and wisdom for that mother, father, and family.
Having had little sleep in the past 24 hours, I am conscious of my own weakness; my need to be alert and safe in driving home. Before switching on the radio, I commit to memory any tasks I might need to do to complete the job.
In the wonderful early morning light I notice the features of the land and trees - the forest of tall, grand mountain ash trees, with tree ferns graciously spreading their fronds in the Dandenong National Park; or a new townhouse development site in the urban sprawl to the south-east of Melbourne.
I must close this brief post now, as I need to return to a new mother and baby for a postnatal check.