Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day of the Midwife

Here in America we are aware today that it is the Cinco de Mayo south of the border. Within Ghulfdom we are aware that the fifth of May is International Day of the Midwife. One of us is a member of the profession, our youngest, Michelle. Here she is photographed at the airport last year—and the passport in her hand announces her international credentials. Odd that members of my immediate family were all born in Europe—except Michelle; she saw the light of day in Kansas City at St. Lukes just north of the lovely Plaza. But we’re a contrarian clan. The only member of our family who is a permanent resident of Europe is also Michelle. Paris is richer by her. It was over there, across the Atlantic, that she had her own four children—Max, Stella, Henry and Malcolm; the last two are twins and their names are therefore listed in alphabetical order. Thierry, the father, is an actor, a flutist, and on the side rather a good chef; and Michelle works at Bluets, in Paris, one of the renowned maternity hospitals that continue the tradition of the famed Dr. Fernand Lamaze. Michelle began her formal studies after she had first brought four babies into the world. Thus she experienced before she studied deeply. As it should be. It took four grueling years while she raised a young brood. Here she was, the sole American, in the exacting French medial education system, and she graduated second in a class of more than forty. When word of that finally came, there was wild dancing in America around the telephone.

This day of commemoration is sponsored by the International Confederation of Midwives, an organization formed in 1919 and housed in the Hague, in the Netherlands today. Some 80 countries are members. The website is here. Knowing something about this subject through Michelle, following the gradual evolution of this field, we are heart and soul behind the ICM in its efforts to promote this little-noted profession—no doubt much older than any. The French call their midwives sage femmes, which always gives me a kind of shiver and proud joy. So fitting, in seems to me. As a 16th century midwifery text has it, “A midwife has a lady’s hand, a hawk's eye, a lion’s heart.” Michelle would say: “Easier said than done, Dad!” Yes, that’s our Michelle. And yes, the words fit her. Happy Day of the Midwife to you!

1 comment:

  1. So true.
    Cheers, Michelle, our own, dear, sage femme!

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