"You have no idea where my hands have been today....."
Happy International Day of the Midwife.
I really had such good intentions of having a post ready for today. International Day of the Midwife… But life got in the way and so I am just going to wing it, start writing and see what happens.
Being a midwife means you have such responsibility but little authority. We are expected to be experts in normal birth, in women’s health, in knowing women but are not always allowed to implement this knowledge to the full extent. Being a midwife is frustrating.
But you know what, it is worth it. It is worth missing the big things in your own life sometimes, to facilitate the big things in someone else’s. To work with women and their families is a privilege. To see a family made is priceless.
You know we really have seen it all. We see the entire spectrum of human emotion. We see every different kind of relationship. We get to witness different practices and learn about different cultures. We do so much people do not know about. I always joke and say “you have no idea where my hands have been today!” I like to gross people out. I find it funny when they squirm (more so the men than women). But really, you have no idea what our hands have done. What they do.
Our hands hold your hands. When you are scared. When you are in pain. When you reach out, needing to hold on to something. To someone. Our hands are there, to squeeze yours. So you know you are not alone. You are never alone.
Our hands are there to sweep the hair off your face. To help you up. Move with you. Put a cold compress on your head. Rub your back, shoulders, arms. When you fall forward, exhausted, weary, emotional, our hands catch you before you fall.
Our hands have felt your baby kicking, as we have touched your growing bump. We’ve felt that movement and smiled with you. Our hands are skilled, we know which way your baby is facing, if your baby is head first or bum first. Our hands know where we can find your babies heartbeat and we get to listen to that glorious sound with you.
Our hands have helped you birth your baby. We’ve touched your baby as it straddles two worlds. Had our hands on your hands as you bring your baby out in to the world. We sometimes have the privilege of being the first people to touch this brand new human life. So new, innocent, beautiful.
Our hands have wiped the tears from your cheeks. And from ours as we grieve together. When the unimaginable does happen, our hands are the ones that shake, when we tell you bad news. Then they are the hands that grasp yours, your partners, your families and comfort you.
Our hands lovingly touch those babies we lost. Our hands cradle their beautiful hands and feet, we take prints. As we talk to your baby, our hands dress them. Our hands cradle those babies born too soon, we hold them as they pass from this short life. We see life beginning and ending and everything in between.
Our hands are strong and quick. We have held your baby’s head up, stopping it from crushing the cord whilst we run to a theatre. We have held instruments inside your abdomen as your baby comes out the sunroof. We have rotated your baby’s shoulders when they get stuck. We have stopped you bleeding. We have stitched you back together with great care and skill.
Our hands have made your baby breathe. Our hands do chest compressions, give oxygen. Give life saving drugs. Give the good drugs, the pain relieving kind. We have had our hands on so many boobs as we help you feed your baby. Our hands also make the best tea and toast known to man!
Our hands also have to document every single detail. As we do it. We write endless notes. We sign our name so much it barely resembles a signature these days. Our hands cling on to our coffee cups and water bottles because sometimes that is all we get in a 12 hour shift. Our hands are more often than not found sneaking in to a biscuit tin or chocolate box for a sugar hit. Our hands rub our eyes because we’re so tired. Our hands hold our colleagues hands, because we know how hard some days are. Our hands heal and support each other, not just our patients!
So yeah, I guess you really don’t know where my hands have been. You don’t know what they have done. But doing all this has been the making of me. It’s a privilege to do this. The things our hands do, it really is incredible. And today, I am celebrating that. Celebrating all my fellow midwives who are just amazing at what they do. Happy International Day of the Midwife!