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St Johns Southgate

09 Apr 2019

Call the midwives!

Last month, my wife gave birth to our fourth child, Hugo.

As with the arrival of all our children, it was a special experience with so much to be thankful for. But this time the process was a little more drawn out and complicated than before, which allowed some time for reflecting on the outstanding care we received at the hospital.

One of the loveliest experiences during our time in hospital was our interaction with the midwives – which, for anyone who has been cared for by one or more, would come as no surprise.

Nursing and midwifery consistently rank as the most trusted of professions, and for good reason. Midwives are there for you when you’re at your most vulnerable and are fully respectful of the uniquely intimate moments that they are allowed into. So yes, a great deal of trust is needed and given and received when it comes to midwives.

Incidentally, in the birthing centre, about 12 hours before Hugo was born, one of the midwives asked me what I do for a living. To which I answered, “I’m a minister of religion,” which unlike midwifery, continues to decline in the professional trustworthiness rankings for reasons that need no explanation in Melbourne.

We shared a moment together acknowledging the privilege it was, in both our professions, to be welcomed into the most intimate and challenging moments of people’s lives. It was very touching to hear, first-hand from a midwife, of her genuine appreciation for being able to do what she does.

I’ve been using the word, “profession” to describe the work of a midwife, but maybe it should be thought of as a “calling” in the same way that my work often is. It really does seem that you have to be the right kind of person – have a specific type of personality and mindset, as well as being smart and capable – to be a midwife. Perhaps midwifery chooses the person, rather than the person choosing to be a midwife.

In the Book of Exodus, there’s a great story about midwives that captures the earthy timelessness of the profession/calling. The Egyptian Pharaoh, plotting to perpetrate genocide on the Hebrew people, enlisted the Hebrew midwives – ordering them to do away with the Hebrew babies when they were born. But Pharaoh didn’t account for the discretion, diplomacy and protective instincts that come with being a midwife. They, of course, defied Pharaoh and safely delivered the babies, making the excuse that the Hebrew women were too vigorous and gave birth before the midwives had even arrived!

In the Book of Exodus, it’s because of the midwives that the Hebrews – individually and as a people – survived and thrived! Today, things aren’t that much different. I think it’s fair to say that because of the women and men of the midwifery profession/calling, we live. And the world lives!

As we approach the Easter feast – that celebration of ultimate new life – take a moment to remember and give thanks for those people who brought you into the world – mothers, fathers and those all too often unsung heroes, midwives.

 

Tom Hoffmann - Pastor

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