Midwifery is filled with moments of awestruck wonder. Birth is a time when the veil of the ordinary is held back and a view of life in all its wonder is displayed in vivid color. There are so many moments I am privileged to witness. There is the moment when parents hear the tiny heartbeat of their baby for the first time. There is the joy on the face of a mother that describes to me feeling her baby move for the first time. There is the excitement in the voice of a mother describing to me the first signs of labor. There is the relief on the face of a father when the birth team walks in the door, be it minutes or hours before the baby is born.There is the indescribable emotion of amazement that pervades the birth room at life’s first cry.
These are all moments I am privileged and honored to witness. But after the birth, after the postpartum clean up, if the timing is just right, I may get to witness yet another moment of wonder that delights my heart. It doesn’t happen at every birth, so when it does the midwives fan out, trying to find the best, yet most unobtrusive vantage point. It is the moment the toddler sibling first lays eyes on the newborn.It is a moment no one can quite predict.The tired mother who has just been through so much revives to show forth her precious treasure as the proud papa carries the toddler into the room with infectious joy. The sleepy toddler rubs his eyes amidst the flash of grandma’s camera and tries to discover what all the fuss seems to be about.At first he is more overjoyed to see mama than he is what she’s holding. Slowly for some and more quickly for others, they begin to notice the tiny bundle mama wishes to show them. Large eyes scan the room for cues as to what to do next. Chubby fingers alternate from his mouth to pointing towards the baby.Then he is asked to hold this precious bundle. Wonder shines from his eyes and joy shines from the eyes of the family in watching the reaction. The scene seems like it’s out of a picture book until this very bright toddler tries to point out the newborn’s eyes and an adult jumps to the rescue, just before the newborn receives a face full of brotherly affection. But you must watch this moment fast because at an unforeseen time, the toddler will lose interest and run to show the newborn his latest truck, returning with 6 hard toys and attempts to drop them right on the newborn’s face.
The scene repeats itself from family to family as the wonder of new life breaks upon the shores of everyday life. It crosses the cultural barrier and is a moment of joy captured on cameras around the world.And just outside the frame of the photo, the midwife stands enjoying her privilege of witnessing the wonder of it all!