I was still in a birthing suite, with my brand new baby daughter resting on my chest and nuzzling around for a feed, sweat still fresh on my brow, and heaving huge, exultant breaths into my exhausted body, when it occurred to me that I would become a midwife. An idea, that I didn’t even realise had been floating around in my subconscious, suddenly solidified itself, with an almost audible clunk in my heart.
I caught our midwife’s eye as she tidied up around us and gently checked over my baby, just as she had done for us two years before, when our son was born.
“You know, whatever it was that you did to make this happen for us….I’m going to do that one day. I want to do what you do”.
She smiled kindly, in the way people do when they hear such huge statements from people completely overflowing with birth hormones and joy, and she told me that she thought that would be lovely. My husband didn’t say anything, being too busy trying to remove his socks, which were saturated with who-knows-what from the birth, and as for the baby, I’m pretty sure she had zero interest in my newly discovered career aspirations.
Weird moment for the epiphany, I know, but there it was.
In life before kids, I was a zoologist. I worked as a zookeeper, and had you asked me back then if I thought nursing or midwifery would be an option for me, I would have said no, point blank, not in a hundred years, no way. People weren’t my “thing”.
But then in stepped serendipity. I fell pregnant with my son, and I met our midwife.
As she supported us through our first pregnancy, she encouraged me to read. So, read I did. I read birth stories. I read books. I read forums. I read academic literature. I was introduced to authors like Ina May Gaskin, and Sheila Kitzinger, and my mind was blown wide open. I read textbooks, and magazines, and newspaper articles, and I discovered something I never knew. I discovered that birth is magical. I discovered that women are powerful -unbelievably so- when they were lovingly encouraged to be. My mindset about what was “normal” changed completely, and my passion was ignited.
At that point, I thought I was just doing preparation work for my own births, but it was more than that. This stuff stuck with me. I realised it wasn’t enough that I had benefited from all of this shared knowledge and care. I realised, during my birth-room “lightbulb moment” that I wanted to pay that forward. I wanted other women to feel that sense of safety, and respect, and reverance. I wanted to be a midwife.
The logistics of completing a nursing degree, and then a postgraduate diploma with a young family are probably details best saved for a future blog (all I can say is thank goodness for a ridiculously fantastic Hot Husband and an all round marvellous support crew of family and friends), but as I walked into the University open day, with the Girl Child in a sling, and Hot Husband pushing the Boy Child in a stroller, I knew, without a skerrick of a doubt, that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And I was right.
If I hadn’t met our midwife, I have no doubt I’d still be a zookeeper, or an animal carer of some kind, and happily so. But I don’t think that’s who I was supposed to be. I think I was supposed to meet her, to show me how to become this version of myself. She helped me to birth my babies, and in the process, I was also reborn. Because of this, because of HER, I get to experience the beauty of new life in my hands, every day. I get to cry happy tears as I see families forming, right in front of my eyes. And I get to try to recreate that beautiful, safe and sacred space that she created for me, when it was my time to birth. Life has come full circle.
The point of this blog wasn’t to convince you all go out and become midwives (although if that’s your thing, then hey, get in there and give it a crack – IT’S AWESOME!!). The point of this blog is to highlight that sometimes, inspiration, innovation and amazing opportunities arise, at seemingly exceptionally inopportune times. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of taking a chance on something that is burning inside of us, because there’s too much else happening, or it’s too difficult. Sometimes the brain outweighs the heart in the decision making process, and we are left with a whole stack of “what ifs” and “I should haves”. Sometimes, something is placed in your path that is meant to challenge you, and change you.
As we tell our kids, the only time we ever fail, is when we don’t try. Don’t give up before you’ve even started.
Sometimes, you guys, we are just meant to give things a go.