Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Legacy of Lives

A very special woman got married on Saturday.

When I attended the wedding I more fully realized just how special she is. Hers was the largest wedding I had ever attended and a full one third (or more!) of the guests were children of all ages. The significant relationship these children had with the bride is that most of them met Heather for the first time in the first moments of their birth.

Heather is not a nurse or a doctor. Heather is a midwife. She trained with her mother, who is also a midwife, and together they have helped to bring many hundreds of children into the world, including our Samuel and Peter. Seeing all these children together celebrating the marriage of Heather and Walter, made me think deeply about her unique impact on the world.

The work that this mother-daughter team has done over the last two decades can only be described as completely selfless and loving. As a recipient of that loving service I can testify that what they do is a most important work and it leaves a legacy that can be seen in the faces of all those little humans who joyfully played at the reception as well as their mothers and fathers who hugged and blessed Heather with their attendance. These families all dearly love the bride and feel connected to her by a special friendship.

The reason that her wedding and reception had a standing-room-only crowd is because of that legacy. Midwives touch families in a way that no other people do. They not only build a relationship with the woman carrying a child but also with her husband and her other family members. They go into the homes of the families and give them loving care at one of the most significant events in their lives- the birthing and welcoming of a new baby.

With great personal sacrifice, midwives attend to the health-care and comfort needs of mother and baby. They are the most skilled and knowledgeable people about birth, I believe more so then doctors. That sounds like a ridiculous statement I know. Having had three homebirths myself and having attended several others, I can testify to that knowledge and skill. I had complications with my homebirths that were handled by my midwives with competent skill, gently and lovingly. Midwives have the skill and knowledge to help women birth babies that are in difficult positions or "stuck" babies. In a hospital setting these situations are not allowed but interrupted with surgery. Under the care of a midwife, women are gently coaxed and drawn through long difficult labors to accomplish what women have been doing naturally since the beginning of time. They are never left to suffer alone and unsure or treated as just one more patient. Midwives do a great service to women by empowering them- giving them control over their own bodies and babies and showing them what they are capable of doing during the most challenging moments of their lives. I am in awe of what they so compassionately do for women.

My admiration and respect for these women and other midwives runs deep. Midwives sacrifice so much of their own personal lives; they shoulder serious responsibility for the welfare of others and they do so with grace, love and honor.

I know that this feeling is shared by the many others whose lives they have touched like my own.

I have been blessed by my association with them and I am grateful for their love and friendship.


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