Grumpy Midwife is proud to be a midwife. She’s proud of the whole second-oldest-profession-in-the-world thing. She loves the idea of being the latest in a long line stretching back to Biblical times; presiding over the primordial mess and raw emotion of an event that levels princesses and paupers, prisoners and pop stars.
Grumpy Midwife is even secretly rather proud of Call the Midwife; lynchpin of the community, respected by men, revered by women, keeper of secrets, defender of the weak, wise woman, witch. She likes the fact that when people ask what she does, she can simply say “midwife” with no need for explanation or elaboration. What other profession is thus so nicely defined?
If she had more time, there is a risk that Grumpy Midwife would find herself quite overcome by the sheer pathos of birth: her hands the first to touch this brand-new, blood-streaked little body; her words at this time remembered forever by the mother; her protection of this infant during the most dangerous moments of his life the first of step of his journey to nobility, Nobel prize, or notoriety. She still sheds a few discrete tears at every birth she witnesses, secure in the knowledge that these will be unnoticed in her general bustle and bossiness.
There have been times when this pride has been dented; by Grumpy Midwife’s own cynicism and discontent or by events or the opinions of others. But not for long – and never so much so that she has managed to walk away. And certainly not since she was recently reminded – by healthcare workers listening intently to her every word in a dusty, dilapidated classroom in a remote corner of Kenya – of the importance of midwifery skills, stripped of all romance and pretension, to millions of women across the world.