Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Ten tiny toes

Ten tiny toes, originally uploaded by stephalie1977.

Ten very important tiny toes. The two mothers of these tiny babies have played a part already in my midwifery journey.

On the 1st December 2008 a baby boy was born, big brother to the little girl in my picture. Sadly this much longed for baby boy lived for just 11 hours. The reason he died is quite simply tragic - midwife error. I am not basing this on my opinion by the way; the hospital involved has admitted liability. I won't go into the ins and outs of it all but one thing it made me sure of, is that I wanted to prevent women from having a similar experience. And it wasn't so much about the outcome, which of course I wouldn't want anyone to have; but about the way the Mum was treated during her labour.

The little boy in my picture also has an older brother and sister that he will not get to meet on this earth; though he is blessed with a beautiful, quirky older sister too and an incredible set of parents. I don't really know the details about his lost older sister, other than I believe it was around the 16th week of pregnancy.

I really only got to know his Mum over the last year and a half. She is a wonderful woman; calm, reassuring, strong, gentle, wise and most of all honest. She's been faced with more trials than anyone could ever deserve and come out of it fighting. Miscarriages; both early and late, a stillbirth, bleeding throughout pregnancy....she deserves more than a medal. She copes because she has to; she knows when to ask for help and that is the greatest strength of all.

Last year she organised an event to raise money for SANDS; at that time not realising how much SANDS would come to mean to her. She simply cared so much about helping others in need. I saw her at that event, pregnant and happy; we laughed together and ate cake. On the 17th July 2009 she discovered her baby had died. On the 19th July he was born, too tiny but so very beautiful. Since then she has raised huge sums of money for SANDS, and continued to raise awareness. She has grieved and she has loved and she has been an inspiration to many. And she found the strength to try again; to give her daughter a companion on earth; to give herself the chance to love again. Another boy, born early but so perfect. What amazes me more than anything, is her strength; she continues today to organise another set of fundraising events so that women like her can get the support they need. She's experienced the whole variety of midwifery support - from the midwives who didn't mind how much reassurance she needed to those to whom she felt a nuisance; the midwives that empowered her and the ones that belittled her. In a profession of care, there are too many horror stories.

For the year following the loss of her son, she wrote him letters. Please do read, so that you might understand just a tiny part of how special she is

So both of these women made me stronger in my resolve to become a midwife. A birth should be a joyous occasion, to be celebrated. But it's not always the case and the midwife is there for that too. It doesn't have to be a negative experience....that might sound strange but it's something I believe. I want the women I care for to know, that everything was done that could be done; that they couldn't have changed anything; that they didn't deserve it. I want to be a calm, reassuring presence for them if I can. I can't change the outcome but I can try and ease the experience I hope. Maybe this is naive of me but I hope not; I hope I can do something, mean something.