Friday, December 27, 2013

Holidays: time to reflect and reminisce

Thanks to Kate for the lovely bunch of flowers
The week between Christmas and the New Year is a very special time for me.  This year I don't have any babies due, and I am enjoying the 'holiday'.  I don't need to do much meal preparation, as we have leftovers from the Christmas feast to work through.  Tonight I have made a pot of risotto, with stock made from the turkey carcase, ham and vegetables.  We have plenty of fruit to enjoy: stone fruits from the trees in the back yard, and melon, pawpaw, cherries ... - more than we can eat.  Today the dehydrator is humming as a batch of apricots are being dried.  Noel has made up a couple of pots of jam - plum and apricot so far.  The figs will be ripening soon.

Life takes on a slower pace.  Friends drop in for a cuppa - "just wondered if you would be at home".  Or, I sit on the deck with a cup of tea and a book - and fall asleep after the first paragraph!

I like to do 'special' things in this holiday week. Yesterday I scanned some photos from the 1970s, and organised them in a chronological fashion in the 'family historical' folder.  The stroll down memory lane, from the time when our children were being born, brings precious memories.

Those of my readers who have read our Christmas greeting will know that, this year, I have meditated on the way we have been blessed by God, from generation to generation.

As a grandmother, I am now seeing that generational blessing.  This is not something that can be taken for granted, or abused, because it is fragile.  The ability of parents to care for and nurture their own children is boosted, or impaired, by the events in their own lives, and the communities around them.  The science of physiology has given us some understanding of the wonderful, but fragile cocktail of hormones that come into play in a woman's body, and her baby's body, during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.  The science of epigenetics, the impact of subtle changes in intra-uterine environments, and nurturing of the infant in the critical early years, opens up many questions for the curious mind.  I'm confident that, as science continues it's unstoppable quest for knowledge, the wonders of our bodies' functions - as they were created - will become increasingly evident.

The years 1973-1980, when our four children were born, were, to me, an extended practical session in which I learnt to apply the midwifery knowledge I had acquired in the previous year, 1972-73, when I was a student midwife at the Women's in Carlton.  Then during the years 1980-1992, my main focus was on being a mother, caring for the children.  I kept my midwifery qualification current by working part time: one night, then two, then three nights a week, in hospital maternity wards.  I can remember telling colleagues at that time that my dream was to work with just a few women, and care for them throughout the pregnancy, birth and postnatal periods.  We didn't have terms like 'continuity of carer' then - it just made sense to me.  I felt that, in hospital midwifery practice, I was having one-night-stands with women: getting very close and personal through the night, then leaving them in the morning, possibly never to see them again.

Without my personal experiences of maternity and child nurture, I could not have learnt the midwifery that I now rely upon.  The intuitive, maieutic learning has taken me well beyond the basic competencies that every midwife is required to have signed off before graduation.

I am now approaching the time when I will no longer be able to make the commitment of being the primary carer, and being called to a woman in labour.  In anticipating that time of change, I want to hold onto, and value, the journey that has been mine.

Continuing the reminiscence from my childbearing time, I have included a few scanned pictures - not the best quality - which tell my story.

1973, (note the paisley print of my kaftan) doing my Lamaze childbirth preparation routine

1973, Michigan, and our first experience of snow!

1975, summer holiday, second baby in arms

1975, Noel's Masters graduation

1977, and our third baby

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