If asked, I would really consider myself a family girl, a mum and a grandmum, a sister, wife, aunty and great aunty! And I have loved working as a midwife. I had often thought about writing our family stories when my wonderful mother lost her speech following a dreadful stroke when she was in her 60s, and she lost her ability to speak. When the opportunity came to write a book it seemed too good to be true, although I did worry that no one would be interested! The publishers, Headline, were looking for a midwife in her 50s, from the north of England who had worked in the community. After a short interview they said I fit the bill.
In one of my blogs, written exactly a year ago http://sagefemme.posterous.com/44168236 I associate my venture with the book Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, as I so enjoyed reading it. Little did I know that there would be a TV series from the book launching just after my book was published. What a coincidence! My book takes over from where Jennifer’s finishes off, in the 1970s. By the time I started my midwifery training, most babies were born in hospital.
So the plan was to write my midwifery memoirs with a ghostwriter, Charlotte Ward. I had to speak to Charlotte every day almost for six months, and as she lived in London we did this via Skype. At first I found the process a little difficult as when Charlotte sent me the transcription of what I had said, it didn’t sound like me…so I worked on the transcriptions myself and we soon got into a routine. It was wonderfully cathartic as well as deeply traumatic; I had to try to remember so much, my innermost feeling, smells, faces, and characters I had long pushed to the back of my memory. I have been able to put records straight as well as describe the most exhilarating times of my life. I relived some of my saddest moments, and Charlotte and I cried together on more than one occasion. Most importantly, I have provided a small part of social history and a memory for my children, and my children’s children. And the focus of my story is clear; women are formidable-they hold up the world even when it is so very hard to do so.
Although I was nervous when Catching Babies was about to be released, I needn’t have been. I have received hundreds of emails and letters from those who have found the book inspiring and helpful, from student midwives, midwives, mothers and fathers and even from a fifteen year old girl who was using my book to review for a GCSE!
The feedback has been the best part of the whole process, because I feel that perhaps telling the story of my career may have contributed to increasing confidence in mothers and midwives, and promoting positive birth.