I write deeply happy books, novels that I hope can make you smile, or soothe a stressed or broken heart, because in my other life, I’m a midwife. The happiness I weave into my books comes from knowledge of the good and the sad that’s at the heart of every midwife’s job. We are the guardians of the joyful and the broken-hearted.
In novels, the first thing often focused on after a birth is the cry of the new baby. In real life, sometimes the birth is more intense than the parents ever dreamed.
For me, working as a rural midwife is a joy. I could have been there for the birth of this mother herself, or even when both parents of this new baby were born. Some women fly in the door, push out their baby and go home four hours later. Other mothers stay while they and their babies perfect their breastfeeding or have a well-deserved rest—like the mothers in A Month to Marry a Midwife.
For all the many, many times that I meet a woman’s eyes with the memory of a happy birth between us — there are the other times too.
I’m the one who leaves the room so that a mother and father can spend a moment, or an hour, or a day and night, with a child who is leaving them far too soon. We share a bond that has nothing to do with her education, or her home life, or her job; what’s between us is deeper and sadder.
A child who will never dance up to me in the grocery store and be introduced: ‘Look, Molly. This lady helped me give birth to you.’
Some Mollys and Jacksons and Chrises dance off to other places. But they are loved, fiercely, for the time they are on this earth. And I’m privileged to be there for that time as well.
The best scenario is when you see a woman in antenatal clinic and parenting classes, be there to support her through labour, help settle mother and baby into their room afterwards, watch baby’s first bath, and maybe a day or two later you can wave goodbye on discharge. There’s a lot of job satisfaction in that.
You may have guessed I love being a midwife. I love watching women become mothers and I often meet children whose first moments I’ve witnessed, perhaps even helped them with that first breath if they were having a hard time, or worried over them when they became sick.
It’s a huge privilege to stand at the bedside of a labouring woman, to help her in a moment that she’ll remember for the rest of her life. I’m the one who catches those wizened little creatures, with their screwed-up faces and blue fingers, their squalling voices and thrashing limbs. Or the sleek and sleepy baby that comes into the world serene.
Sharing the emotion of my work in fiction allows me to share the magic of midwifery with my readers. I truly hope you enjoy my stories as much as I love writing them. Happy National Midwives to all the wonderful UK midwives.
Warmest regards, Fi