My mother-in-law was born in New Zealand, the daughter of a transplanted cockney naval sailor, the son of a London midwife named Ann.
When I learned a few days ago that my children’s great-great-grandmother was a midwife, I was giddy. I’ve long harbored a wish that I would find a midwife in my own ancestral line. This isn’t quite the same, but it’s the closest I’ve come (besides having a registered nurse grandmother who attended births). And it makes me feel more than compensated for the fact that my children also have the blood of a turn of the century rapist running through their veins. (That’s another story.) A midwife’s blood so totally overpowers that. So much. Yay.
After telling my children about this new discovery, I said, “Lucky! I wish I had the blood of midwife running through my veins.” My quick little six-year-old replied, “You could become a midwife!” Clever girl. That most certainly would put the blood of a midwife in my veins. Still not sure how I feel about that path, but I digress.
After I learned of Ann’s profession, my mind started spinning with questions I wished I could ask her… How did she become a midwife? How many births did she attend in her lifetime? What were her own births like? And then I also got thinking about my own births, the births of Ann’s great-great-grandchildren. I truly believe that every single birth is attended by angels, and I believe that most of the time those angels are individuals invested in the mother and her baby through ties of blood or friendship. And it suddenly felt so clear and certain in my heart that Ann has attended every. one. of. my. births. And that gave me happy chills. Suddenly, I felt like we knew each other deeply.
I’ve often heard midwives speak of the knowing they experience in their work. Sometimes they just know things in their core… when something is amiss with a mother/baby, what needs to be done to help them, etc. My midwife told me that most midwives develop that ability after they’ve practiced for more than 15 years. I can’t help wondering if it’s partly a process of tuning their ears to the angel midwives surrounding them. It reminds me of “Diantha’s Crossing,” a touching short historical fiction film dramatization of a pioneer midwife’s death and subsequent assistance at a birth. In her spirit state, she guides the hands of a father in turning his baby from its breech position and talks him through the birth.
And this all makes me think about mother’s intuition. How much of that knowing we experience as mothers comes from the voices of the mother-angels surrounding us? When we encounter challenges in nurturing and mothering our babies, do they whisper in our ears, guide our hands, offer spiritual support from their wise place of knowing? It warms my heart to think so.
Last August, I shared the following… Nearly six years ago, my former-roommate and dear friend, Amber, took a photo of me and my newborn second-born daughter. I took a slice of that photo to create my blog’s title header, in fact. Here’s the original:
I really liked this photo then, but I adore and treasure it now with even more depth and reverence. I love the lighting and how the leaves in the grass seem to sparkle. But, most of all, I love that beautiful, ancient lady in the background. When I see that strong, old tree behind us, I see my foremothers, my spirit sisters, and my Divine Mother. I see all those strong life-giving women supporting me, teaching me, apprenticing me in my own life-giving path, looking-on with wiser eyes and immense love. So much beauty and symbolism in this photograph. So much of God’s perfect design and immaculate timing. And, on top of all of that, trees are just plain beautiful to look at anyway.
I believe that you, too, have wise and powerful women “at your back.” You are never alone. Listen for their whispers. Look carefully, and you just might start to see their “leaves” sparkling all around you, evidence of their constant presence and love.