I trained as a nurse in rural Uganda for close to two years before I moved to Canada to study journalism at the University of Regina.
The nursing program was comprehensive, combining critical care nursing and midwifery. The months I spent on the maternity ward were especially shocking. There was always the sense that the labouring mothers ought to transcend the pain of childbirth, and that failure to remain stoic reflected poorly on a mother’s ability to parent their soon-to-be-born child. Some midwives even employed scare tactics to keep the women calm. But there were a few midwives who went over and beyond to exercise empathy, whose kindness was as immense a gift as their expertise.
And many years later when the opportunity to volunteer for Mamas 4 mamas presented itself to me, it seemed like kismet. I was reminded of how helpless I had felt as a trainee supposedly learning from those callous midwives, but also of how grateful I was for those humane midwives who could hold a mother’s hand and guide her, with expertise and compassion, through the unrelenting storm that is childbirth.”