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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sacred ground

"My involvement with midwifery has been the very best life I could have. I feel I have been living on sacred ground."

~ Jan Tritten

What looks like shadow exists only because light exists. One cannot be present without the other. These past few days I have been dancing between shadow and light. Bear with me, stay with this metaphor as you read.

What I have to write about is haunting, so if you would like to dance only in the sunshine of midwifery, you might not want to contine reading. I am afraid to write this blog because it is loaded. I feel though that it is important, probably the most important thing that I have written about to this day.

I don't even know where to begin except with the exact moment. On Friday a woman came in for a scheduled appointment. I went to get heart can guess right? Take a deep breath.

There were none, her baby's little heart had stopped beating. This was her 1st pregnancy, she thought she couldn't get pregnant.

I asked why I had been the one to receive this brutal message. I was terrified, I moved slowly and got the staff midwife. I wanted to run away but I couldn't. How could I? Many thoughts crowded my head, how could I possibly support this family when I was in shock?

Another midwife went to the hospital with them for a sonogram...when I gathered myself together, I took her place. I was there when the father received the news but I was not allowed to be with them.

I went back to the clinic with a heavy heart but at the same time I felt like this was an amazing gift that I had been given.

This is every midwives worst fear no? And I was in a situation where I had to deal with it. The gift is this: I wasn't alone, I was in a learning environment with 20+ women to gather around me and help me cross this threshold. I was dancing in shadow and light and being present in both. It was hard, it is hard. It is not the end of my story.

On Sunday I was on shift and by chance it was my turn to go to the hospital (we do followup on people who are transported out of our care). This time I was allowed in to see this family, as I crossed the threshold to their room, the nurse was checking this mom's dialation. I stood outside and wondered how it was that I was here at this exact moment. The mother was complete and ready to push.

This time I did not want to run away. I commited myself to serving this family and I did. I was there for the birth of this baby. It was phenomenal.
After the baby was born She lifted her little 8 1/2 boy into here arms and spoke words of love to her child asking it why it had choose to leave.."Que te paso mi amor?" She wrapped the baby in a blanket, they took photos, there were profuse tears. She named her child.

The baby's heart had not beaten for at least 3 days, before she had entered the clinic for her appointment.

I am in a very strange space, 4 days later I have cried, I have grieved, I would say though that I am more grateful than anything.
I don't think this is a reaction that everyone has.

It was a gift, it was no accident that it was me that did not find the heart tones and it was no accident that I was there the moment that she was ready to push her baby into the world. Is it?

At times I think that I just haven't quite absorbed the profound sadness of it all. The hardest part was not my involvement, the hardest part is thinking about the grief of this family. I have just had a small brush with it. I was allowed to be on the outside, I am allowed perspective. It wasn't me who lost a long awaited child.

I am sure that many people who read this will have specific questions, and specific judgements. As of now, the cause of the baby's death is unknown.

Does it matter? Does there need to be blame? Isn't life so very mysterious?

Thus the beginning quote:

"My involvement with midwifery has been the very best life I could have. I feel I have been living on sacred ground."

~ Jan Tritten


-M said...

Sunshine...firstly I am so sorry that this family faced a loss, and my thoughts are with them.

I am bowled over by how you personally are choosing to deal with this loss. It is lovely that you are able to learn from this experience, and learn not only about the physical and emotional for the family but for yourself and to learn about the strong web of support around you now.

That is a strength which, in my oppinion, must be part of your calling to such a shadow and light job.

Hugs for you during this back and forth time...


jjcups said...

Sunshine, I'm glad this family had you & your love around them. No one wants to experience that...if you have to, though, I'd want to be with someone with your level of caring and ability to 'be'.

M said...

thank you - that was beautiful

lesa said...

what a blessing you must have been to that family
thank you, sunshine

ariel said...

I can't imagine. I just can't.

emjaybee said...

Just found your blog, and I'm already addicted. I hope to walk the path you're walking someday (years from now most likely) and it's quite possible I'll go to MLL.

Such a sad story, but so beautiful. It is good to be able to grieve and let go, and it is very hard, but you seem to be doing it well.

Doula Coleen said...

Sunshine, thank you for sharing this life altering experience with such grace. So very sorry for the loss this family experinced; however, what a gift God gave them sending you as their midwife angel.

You are truely living your calling...and we are all blessed as you share your brave journey.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

- Coleen

meeshka said...


I can't imagine being there for such sadness and loss. What a gift you are to these families.

I have journeyed with friends through these types of loss but not in the way you have.

Grief is hard. Your presence in the process is a divine touch.