When I get home at the end of a long day my baby is already asleep. I sneak into her room and watch her dreaming, her perfect face so restful and still, her chest rising and falling in a beautiful rhythm.
This sight makes me happier than anything else in the world.
But it also makes me sad.
As today, whilst she was watching Teletubbies and playing with the cat, I held the hand of someone whose baby will never breathe.
Will never laugh, will never cry.
I put my heart and soul into caring for someone whose dreams had been shattered. I shed a tear; for her and for her baby and all of the things she would not do. For the first cry she wouldn’t make, the first step she wouldn’t take. That first smile, the first laugh.
All of the things we take for granted. I gently washed this baby’s hands and her feet, to take prints for her loving parents, a box of memories all that they have left of their dreams.
All that they will ever have of their longed for child: and I think of my baby. Of washing her hair in the bath and hearing her sing to her ducks and laughing at the funny faces my husband pulls.
When I became a midwife I didn’t have children. I thought I knew what it meant to love, and I gave out lots of advice to mothers. How to feed their babies and how to care for them. How to cope in labour and what to do once they brought their babies home. How to wind them and how to settle them to sleep.
When I returned to work after having my daughter, the very essence of me had changed. I now knew what it meant to hold your baby for the first time; to feel them on your skin and kiss them on their perfect forehead. I knew the harsh reality of sleepless nights, sore and bleeding nipples, constant aches and pains; the reminder of their journey into this world.
I felt the agony of watching them sleep, so desperate for sleep myself but panicking that they wouldn’t wake; that something terrible would happen.
I returned to work a new woman. A midwife but also a mother. I felt tired and stressed, the proud owner of a toddler who wears me into the ground. But I work nightshifts alongside women, in awe of women and what they can achieve. I bring new life into the world and watch fathers sob, watch women at their strongest, weakest and most vulnerable, relying on me for support and to get them through the hardest time of their lives. It is draining both physically and emotionally… and then I return home to reruns of the in the night garden and little fingers poking my eyelids when I dare to try and sleep.
Nothing is more humbling than being a midwife – the word midwife means “with woman”.
And that is what I am.
I am with you: I am in awe of you.
And I am you – I have arguments on a daily basis about putting on shoes and not hitting the cat. I am a normal woman but with an extraordinary privilege. And it is something I will never, ever take for granted.
Anonymummy is The Motherload®’s anonymous blogging identity; she allows us to tell the stories which are too risky, or too painful to share in our own names. Anonymummy is written by a different author every time. If you have an experience to share via Anonymummy, you can email The Motherload® editor in confidence on firstname.lastname@example.org.