Before I kid you all into thinking that the life of a midwife is all cutsie babies and wonderful births, there is a flip side to this coin. Sometimes births don't go as well as you want them to and sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent this. It is hard to remember that although we are there to help women and we want to help women, we cannot control nature and nature has a cruel streak. Think about it: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, these are all examples of times where nature reminds us that it has the upper hand.
Sometimes as a midwife you are put between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand you have the mama's wishes in the back of your mind and want to help her achieve these, on the other, you have reality and the knowledge of how quickly things can change and put both mama and baby at risk and you don't want to even cross remotely into this territory. Whatever you do, you are accountable for your actions, which makes you answerable to everyone.
As a first year student, you just observe it all unfold. There is nothing much you can do, other than observe and write things down as they occur. When it is all over, you reflect, you don't sleep, you eat crap, you spend your life picking your eye bags up from your chin, you don't wear make up, your hair is scraped back, you're vomited on, pooped on, shouted at, carry tea and toast, don't sit down, don't wee, you read up on what happened, what it all means and what the risks are and what you can watch out for in the future.
Learning points are spewing forth, essays are being written, literature reviews organised, meals cooked, sleep lost and I even forgot to take my son to his school bus on Thursday morning, missing it for him and his school friend, meaning that her mother ended up having to drive them all the way. For a whole six hours, I did wonder whether I would be better off working in a bookshop! No real responsibilities that involved life threatening decisions, no work to bring home, surrounded by lots of lovely books....Just for a while, I wondered; did I really want this responsibility? Wouldn't I be better just being a proper mum to the children, cooking them proper food rather than relying on tins of baked beans a few times more than I'd like to, giving them more of my attention rather than saying 'please go away because I need to study', taking my dog for long walks in the day rather than thinking all the while I'm walking - 'I shouldn't be here, this is wasting my day'.
But, you know what, then there was a PPH on my next shift. I wrote the notes, I made cups of tea for the dad and helped him dress his new baby as his wife was taken to theatre. I helped a few more babies into the world and watched the looks on the faces of the mothers, adoration, exhaustion, fear and elation and you know what...
For three years, the world will survive on baked beans!