Nearly twelve years ago I was frightened and scared. There were lots of people, lots of noise and lots of lights.
On my left side was my equally frightened husband, and on my right was a young woman who I have never forgotten.
I will call her *Louise*.
Louise made me feel safe and reassured me that things were okay when I didn't know any better.
Louise held my hand, mopped my brow and cleared up my vomit.
Louise told me things would be okay when I thought it was the end of the world.
Louise smiled and laughed when I was happy on my epidural (finally) and got help for me over and over again, whilst I had my asthma attack and before it really was okay on the epidural and it finally worked.
Louise answered my banal, neurotic and quite simply repetitive questions with calmness and demure.
Louise stayed over her shift, above and beyond the call of duty when our son eventually made his way into the world some 15 hours after our entering that room.
I never forgot Louise.
In fact, two years later after giving birth to my second child, I was at home and the midwife came to visit. It was a part time midwife who had recently qualified and had since had a baby.
It was Louise!
Her baby was Rachel (no, that really WAS her name!!)
We cried again!
Yesterday I tried to be Louise for someone else.
I had the great honour of attending a new mama's birth, my third as a student (probably around my 33rd as me!)
She needed reassurance - that was all.
She needed to know she was safe and could do this.
The biggest thing I could do for her was tell her she was strong, she was amazing, she was powerful and she was birthing her baby beautifully.
Lucky for her, there was no epidural, instead a peaceful, calm, amazing waterbirth.
I stayed...a little longer ;-) I sat with her afterwards and chatted, showed her how to dress her new son, reassured her it was totally normal to fumble and feel nervous picking him up. I helped her feed him and brought her tea and toast. I told her she was an amazing mother who had done so much already for her son.
Sometimes, it's hard as a midwife, you feel you need to 'do' so much.
The text books say x, y and z, much like the parenting text books that both myself and my new mama yesterday were and will be drowning in, the manuals that tell you how to birth, how to parent, how to feed your baby.
Sometimes, all you really need to do for that woman, in fact, often, all you really need to do, is just 'be'. Just be with woman, not 'do-for' woman.
That is the true power of a midwife and that is the midwife that the mother will remember, despite the chaos, the drugs, the lights, the doctors with their tools, and the fear...oh yes, the fear!
It will be the midwife who was calm, who held her hand and mopped her brow and told her she was amazing!
I hope I was as good for her as Louise was for me.