I recently finished reading 'When Breath Becomes Air' by the neurology surgeon xx, his memoir on his last days before dying of lung cancer at 38.
For his whole life he looked for an answer to the big question of what makes life meaningful and worth living. He read, lived meaningful experiences, chose medicine because of intersecting life-death-meaning steady presence and particularly neurosurgery. Until he got lung cancer and personally lived his before only theoretical investigation about meaning and death.
I chose midwifery considering a natural calling. I always felt since I was I child I was called to be with, help and support people in some way. All my friends used to joke and call me 'mum'. Growing up I became more and more interested in medical subjects and I've seen my two passion intersecting undoubtedly in a future prospecting me to be either a doctor or a nurse/midwife.
The calling towards midwifery came watching VHS about life, beginning of life, the stages of pregnancy and labor.
I was utterly fascinated by the magic of life and human body harmony and perfection culminating in birth and then lactation, postnatal involution...
I chose midwifery over medicine for the different plan it was located in helping women during the most important moment of their lives. Promoting normality, being with instead of looking from the distant supremacy of medicine.
I was feeling prouder to be a woman myself the more I was studying and getting closer to be a midwife. Often I wandered when my time would have come to be a mother myself and see myself as a protagonist of the story instead of the helper.
Being a good student midwife was fulfilling my personal call, I was feeling in the right place and I was participant and close observer of the miracle of life, love and meaning.
Everything seems more or less linear, with love and meaning growing from pregnancy and culminating with birth and during the postnatal period.
When I got Ida's diagnosis I felt stolen from the happy ending I witnessed so many times in practice. I was lost in meaning. I knew about the 1:4 early pregnancies miscarriages possibility and was prepared for it, I didn't know I could be a 0.006% statistics.
Even for me, like the author wrote 'my relationship with statistics changed when I became one'.
Where was our female bodies perfection? Where was the magic of life to be found in a place where a choice to end life had to be made by the person who housed the life itself?
Thinking back to our story Ida showed me meaning and culmination of love in its non-linearity. A reality none external observer can really grasp.
Meaning is not lost in death and tragedy, it's not linear and growing with time.
Meaning is always found after life encounters with death. What really matters for your life to be worth living is found. And this won't let you be the same again.
I asked myself initially why me, then why not me became the answer.
Our existence as protagonist in this world, as important beings, as deserving beings lost meaning instead and pressed heavy on my beliefs.
I could never imagine that love and meaning could be growing over death, could be found its apex in ending my daughter's life.
What I lost was my previous self and the personal call belonging to the past self.
Who am I now? What is that I have to do with my life? Am I really meant to be a midwife? I reached the position of an active player in life-death-meaning, I changed my previous understanding of them, what do I have to do with all this?
Once I found out the meaningful things of my life are my loved ones, my baby girl, being her mother and becoming the mother of her future siblings, what do I have to do now?
I recently enough started to see myself again helping people, but grief doesn't let me the strength to do it. Initially it totally obscured this part of my nature, making me believe it was only belonging to my past-self.
It's emerging again but midwifery, its happy endings, helping other women to be happy as I should've been, seem too far from what I really want now and find meaningful in my life.
What I want now is something that doesn't exist, my baby back, healthy and due in one month.
What I am desperate about is being the mother of a real, breathing, living baby too.
How can I help mothers with healthy pregnancies, births, babies when observing this miracle doesn't astonish me now, but brings me back to my baby being buried and gone forever?
Does a personal calling end where grief start?
Ida Saoirse Scherer,
our first baby girl, who was born and died at 16+5 weeks on the 30th November 2017.
Resources about Termination for Medical Reasons
Sister-friend Emily writing for her first son Amari Regan (Fragile X Syndrome)
Katrina's blog for her second daughter April Rey (Trisomy 13)