It is her calling.
The blood, the sutures, the screams, the sweat.
She is this- the stitching, tear wiping, hand holding, sweat swiping.
Her time is hers, but yet it is not- not when you need her four nights in a row at 3am. Not when she can’t turn her job off.
35 hours a week is a joke. A joke when you consider the length of one or two labours in a single work week, four postnatal checkups and two prenatal introductions- plus you keep calling.
35 hours drifts to 40, then 45 or 50 or more. But she is your person, the one you need, she tells herself. She is the only one who now knows your intimate past, the one you and she mourn together.
She is your psychologist, your clinician, your nurse, your friend- she is all those things at once.
She has seen your blue bedroom walls, met your dog Jack, knows your laundry pile, your pantry, the garden shed and your backyard swing. She has seen you from the inside out.
And she breathes this. It is all consuming- the rush, the adrenaline, the joy, the elation.
But with it comes sorrow. Dark and seeping, sealed tight behind her walls of silence she must hold in a secret place. Shoved away- but never forgotten.
She carries every weight. Every birth becomes a page in her book. It becomes her, a tangled mess of memories in her bank, once saturated only with her own family’s milestones and events.
Her heart now bleeds for you. For her. For them.
Her heart bleeds for her children too, when she stops to breathe. Her arms ache to hold them on their fourth birthday, but instead, she nurtures you and yours when the call comes through. More balloons go unblown in the cupboard drawer.
She examines your pee, she draws your blood, she fixes your chapped nipples and wipes the mucus from between your legs. All gently, all kindly, all with the servitude that is in her bones to give.
She cannot be tired, is not allowed. Not when there is always another baby to catch. Not when this day will be remembered for 60 years to come for the family whose home she finds herself in today, laying nestled against today’s labouring mama in her bed, as she cries out in agony.
Families keep growing, and so, she keeps supporting, always.
And yet where is the person to hold her hand at night when she naps for an hour in her car on the side of a dark highway? Who is there to validate her efforts when she cries, wondering why the world can be so cruel for so many, wondering if she had said the right things in consolation.
She struggles to be enough for enough. Yearning to do more in less time, and yet still be present. She is stretched.
And she’s been struggling from the start, in a system taking advantage of her skill set without proper compensation or support. Stuck in a system ignoring her pleas for better, like they promised ten long years ago. Still, most days, she tells herself to suck it up. For them.
Her children, then grandchildren, grow up before her and yet not in front of her. She is enslaved to her calling.
And in those duties there is passion and her fire is lit, but her fire grows dimmer as the years trudge on.
This is woman’s work, in all its complicated glory.
But with every additional client her silent screams grow louder, her pillow holding her hopes and dreams for something better the next day.
She is a superhero, yes, but she is human, too. She is beauty and fragility, strength and power, a vault of it all.
She is your person, but today she is weary. Her voice has been muted for far too long.
She is a midwife, and this is now.
Today we push for her, but in a different way than we did on the bed she made us.
Today we tuck her in, and let her rest. While she does, we move mountains, just as she showed us we could. Today, for once, we answer her call.
She is our person. The time is now.