I have a terrible memory. I have to be reminded what I did for Christmas last year, I’m hopeless with people’s names and if I’m texted and asked to swing by and pick up [insert here] from the shops on the way home from work, I invariably walk through the door empty handed.
But I remember her. I remember everything about the midwife who helped me bring the little unknown human inside me out into this fierce and demanding world.
She was a lot smaller than me (which wouldn’t be hard). A runner she said. Sporty. In her 30s. Funny in a dry way. Pragmatic, intuitive, tenacious and warm. Dressed in navy blue with a blonde ponytail. Her hands all worker: clean, no polish, short nails, ready.
In that funny delivery room where times stands still and races, where you really have entered an alternative universe, the three of us chatted at first in between contractions like friends at a very strange pub, probably from Star Wars. In the middle of this strange land so separate from the world, we found we could talk to each other. Two clothed people, one completely naked with a bulging tummy and shining big breasts talking about the City to Surf race.
When the contractions took over the room I had the brightest of ideas. I lay naked in the foetal position on a gym mat on the floor and announced to my husband and the midwife, "Look, I've been thinking about this," I said arching my head up from the gym mat in their direction. "How about we come back tomorrow and do this then?"
I really meant it. I thought it was a clever solution to avoid the pain. I would simply delay it ... until tomorrow. It was all terribly reasonable. I remember them both looking down at me and saying kind things to the naked pregnant woman lying on the floor. She broke it gently.
"I'm pretty sure you are going to have this baby today."
When the pain became everything I remember asking her "When are you going to leave me?"
I thought midwives came and went, they didn't stay with you.
"I'm not going anywhere."
That last month of pregnancy can be a killer. But you can do it! Listen ...
I remember her taking me into the shower and spraying my lower back with steaming hot water. I remember her explaining calmly, as she held a bowl, why I was vomiting (It is common apparently for women in transition to vomit). I liked the knowledge. The knowledge of what was happening to my body helped.
I remember her telling me it was too late for pain relief when I asked and then her calm remade itself into clear direction and support.
"You can do this. You are nearly there. This is happening now."
I remember screaming so much during pushing (which was odd, because the other two labours I had I was so quiet the doctor and midwives commented on my silence), she came up to me, brushed the hair out of my face and said in a kind, firm voice.
"Making noise is great, but you are going to hurt your throat doing that. Can you try to put that energy in your throat into your pushing."
Even in my pushing haze I somehow grasped onto that and understood my instructions. I moved my energy to my pushing.
I remember her saying.
"The baby is coming. The head is out. The head is out."
Then the baby came and my midwife scooped her up and gave her straight to my husband who put her on my chest.
"It's a girl," he said kissing me.
My midwife laughed and smiled, we all did and unlike the movies no one cried. The laughter stopped though and the room fell silent.
We all looked at the 4.3kg miracle with perfect fingers and toes.
There were now four of us in the room.
Me, my husband, my new daughter and the midwife who stayed with us through chats, pain, fear, screaming, laughter, delusions, naked showers and pure love.
The midwife who stood next to me and my husband in our most intimate and raw moment.
The midwife who guided us.
The midwife who cared for me.
The midwife who delivered our baby safely.
The midwife who helped us become a family.
And when I left that room, she would do it all again.
Thank you. You will never be forgotten.