The old English meaning of the word midwife is “with woman”. I always liked that definition because it sums up what we as midwives do. It is a calling which I have faithfully fulfilled, being awakened many nights, in all weather, driving down dirt roads, plowing my car through snow-filled lanes, entering houses illuminated by lantern light. I’ve spent endless hours with sweat dripping off my body mingling with the mother’s tears. Over 2,000 newborn lives have been entrusted to my hands; crying helpless lives given as gifts to mankind. How many backs have I rubbed? Pails of water have I filled? Cups of coffee have I consumed? I loved it! It was my calling.
I was faithful
Lately I’ve been wrestling with this calling. I believe if God calls you to something, you are to be faithful to it until death. But, my physical body is not capable of fulfilling my duties. This was sealed in stone for me a few weeks back when I attended (just as a back-rubber, support person) the birth of a precious friend. All I could do was sit in the rocker, half-way rub her back and pray. I had to watch the other midwife perform all the duties that I would have done. So this chapter in my life is finished, kaput.
But “ with women” is still part of who I am…. only the tables are turning. The way I see it, there are no specifications in the calling to be “with woman.” I don’t have to only be on one side of the equation.
This week I had lots of time to think as I was blessed to be able to go to a Moody Bible Institute Conference in Chicago. I have enjoyed this conference every year for the last 6 years. It’s a highlight for me. A time of challenging speakers, renewing worship, and exploring Chicago.
Of course, I didn’t think I could go this year, until one of my good friends encouraged me “we can do it together… we’ll help you.” Did they realize how much help I needed?? Could I walk where I needed to go? What about eating? Sleeping? I was boring company, unable to talk and party. I was afraid.
I prayed about it, swallowed my pride and agreed.
Over the past days, I saw how the meaning of “with women” is changing for me. I am not the care-giver, but the care-receiver. These lovely, wise ladies, had to carry all my bags for me, walk slowly, talk for me. They selflessly gave up having fun on the town to be “with me”. They prayed for me, read to me, sang for me and I leaned into them for support. Strong, beautiful ladies being my midwives, not unto birth but transitioning me to the new world that awaits me.
There really is very little difference between birth and death. They are both God-ordained passages between worlds. We enter both with faith as a little child. At one end, our eyes are opened and the other, they close. In birth, we take our first breath, in death our last. It takes hands of love to usher us through the transitions. That’s what I saw in my friends this week.
Therefore: I lay on the altar of sacrifice my mantle as midwife and reach out my hands to those woman who are called to be “with me”. And, to the One that called me into midwifery “Thank-you for 35 years of serving that I was able to have and for all the lives that I was able to be a part of. It was an honor”
Children: Life is sacred. Death is sacred. Don’t go alone through the passages of life.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!