'Midwifery is a noisy job. Until it falls silent.'

Welcome to The Unspeakables, a series by Mamamia that tells unflinchingly honest stories about being a woman - whatever that looks like. You can find out more about   The Unspeakables here.

This post deals with stillbirth and might be triggering for some readers.

Midwifery is a noisy job.

Women scream, partners shout, machines bleep, feet run on the corridors, water splashes, paperwork rustles.

And the clip clop of a heartbeat punctuates the minutes. 

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We aim for peace but birth is a cacophony of sounds. A melody perhaps.

The music of birth. Culminating in the sweetest sound.

But sometimes babies slip into this world.

Silent and sleeping.

Sometimes the room waits chilled. Words unspoken. 

Hearts barely beating as they wait.

For the inevitable silence.

Hoping against all hope that a beautiful cry will rend the still air.

Instead the silence in broken only by tears and a mother’s lament.

Listen to Mia Freedman's chat with Rebecca Sparrow about miscarriage and stillbirth. Post continues below.

Ours is a vocal job.


We offer encouragement. Urging, “come on” “push” “you can do it” “it will be so worthwhile” “you'll be so proud”. Cheerleaders, personal trainers, eternal optimists. We hold her hand, guide her way. To a joyful conclusion.

But sometimes mothers labour with broken dreams. Our love and care cannot heal their pain. Sometimes we carry the mum to the edge of the abyss, a place we cannot follow and soft words ring hollow.

Then midwifery is a painful job. We quietly care. Careful not to intrude but anxious to do what we can. Aware that these precious moments are all they have. A few cuddles, photos, footprints. Robbed of a lifetime of memories we cram in what we can. As heart’s break and sorrow consumes all. A sleeping angel is cradled in shaking arms.

And then we leave this place on the longest drive home. With shattered hearts and heavy shoulders. We would take their pain with us if we could. Preterm birth, sepsis, PET, abruption, undiagnosed abnormality, often hidden. And sometimes no reason, no explanation. Unexpected quiet. A light snuffed out without warning.

And we return the next day, weary and worn. Questioning ourselves. Questioning our skills. Just questioning why? Why? Then we wipe our eyes, replace our smiles and take a deep breath. Cheerfully we walk into another story, another day. 

This post originally appeared on Facebook and has been republished with full permission.

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637. 

You can download Never Forgotten: Stories of love, loss and healing after miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death for free here.

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Feature Image: Getty