Life can be incredibly fragile and cruel sometimes. As easily as life gives, it can take away.
Two months ago I met a lovely lady, a midwife from Tennessee. We were basically two midwives from two different continents, thrown together when she answered my advert seeking a roomie for the conference in Eugene.
We spent the best part of a week together at workshops, having dinner, laughing, sharing anecdotes about our families and children. What leapt out at me about Daphne was the love she radiated for her children and her husband. What I neglected to tell you was that her and her husband were expecting her third child at the beginning of July.
This morning I found out that her baby was born six weeks early and is now on life support which is likely to be turned off over the next few days. It will probably be nothing short of a miracle that will save Baby Ansley.
Some cruel twist of fate has decided that gentle, loving, midwife mama, Daphne is worthy of an angel with wings. Life is just so terribly unkind. Why has this decision been made to take Daphne's beautiful baby and not leave her earthside with them where she is much wanted and much loved?
It makes me wonder how anyone can believe in any God when these cruel things happen. I'm not trying to start a religious debate by the way. Daphne, however, is a devout Christian and I am sure that the support of her Christian beliefs and her church family will be of some comfort to her.
After discovering this news I then had to get into the car and drive to facilitate a class for 16 expectant mums and dads. I had to stand there, looking them in the eyes and answer their fears about childbirth by explaining that it's a rare occurrence when things go wrong, knowing darned well that my friend is living every mother's nightmare.
How do you bring up this conversation with women? Childbirth is only as safe as life gets, life is fragile, sometimes nature is cruel and sometimes babies are taken prematurely. Maybe this is life's way of population control, some vicious and spiteful attempt at survival of the fittest.
There is a huge part of me that wants women to understand the word nature. To appreciate that it cannot be controlled, that things are not guaranteed as the text book says. To have a healthy appreciation for this helps women realise that scans are not diagnostic tests, it can't pick up everything. That continual monitoring won't always pick up if something is going awry but more likely is going to show that something might be awry when it's not. That, when they are in labour, they may have to allow the inner animal to take over and strict birth plans may lead to disappointment. The other part of me wants women to feel safe and confident in their abilities to grow healthy babies and birth them. I want them to believe in their bodies and listen to them so they respond if there is a niggle that concerns them. I don't want them to worry about the minute statistics and fear that they might be the 0.05%.
But, then there is Daphne, sitting tonight with her husband, holding hands over the plastic incubator which is likely to be their daughter's only experience of life on earth.
Beautiful Daphne, a midwife, with a healthy appreciation and respect for nature now experiencing it's cruelty firsthand.
If you pray, please say an extra prayer tonight. If you don't, maybe you could direct your thoughts and energies. We can't control nature and Ansley's fate is probably already decided, but it certainly can't help to at least envelop this dear family with extra love whilst they mourn.
Thank you and give your children extra hug this evening x
This is an edit to add that Baby Ansley got her wings yesterday afternoon May 29th as she lost her fight. Her funeral will be on Tuesday 31st May at 4pm GMT (10am central time). Please send some special love that day to Daphne and her family. Unless you have walked but a footprint in the shoes of someone who has lost a loved one, not least that of a child, taken too soon, it is impossible to understand. However, love can help to heal.