I found this poem several years ago, and it is the inspiration behind my logo drawing. Hands are the tools of our midwifery trade. To have them simply poised for action is a tricky skill to learn. Unlike other pieces of equipment in our workspace, we don’t spend wasted minutes running around the corridors trying to find them. We cannot be made to share them around and they’re rarely sent for repair, to be missed for weeks on end. What’s more, they’re relatively inexpensive.
The joy is that our hands belong solely to us. They are attached and cannot be removed from us. In the remotest corners of the world, our hands can save lives, hold space, and nurture women, babies, and families. If we have absolutely nothing else, we can still do our work.
Admittedly hands, like any other tool, are only as good as the midwife using them. Hands are team players, and completely depend on our eyes, ears, head, heart, and soul. Maybe Aristotle knew back then that a midwife, who worked with the whole package, had the strongest essence for being with woman.
Our hands are our tools. Let’s honour them. Let’s keep our skills and practice them hard. There may be a time when we find ourselves with nothing else, but we will still be midwives.
“These are my hands. Through these hands I have come to see the world.
These hands have measured the growth of life and documented the stalling of time.
They guide my ears to places where I hear the watch-like beat of tiny hearts.
My hands have felt the hard bony framework of passages and the softness of muscles
Which will bulge like petals of a rose.
My hands have opened windows to the energy of the souls of those I have touched.
They have held the frigid rigidity of steel instruments and the softness of a friend.
There are stories in these hands, read from the pages of the work of women.
With my hands I felt the power of the strength it takes to grow and release new spirit.
My hands were born with the knowing of touch.
The journey has added how and when and the time to ask for help.
Teaching hands engulfed mine until they were ready to fly.
My hands are joined in a circle which is unbroken through time.
Sometimes my hands do nothing; Their most important work will be still with fingers laced
and witness the ‘art of doing nothing’ has been passed from one generation to the next.
Mine have been taught by some of the most powerful hands, to watch and wait.
This is perhaps the hardest for hands born to touch.
If I have nothing else to give you, let me teach you how to see with your hands.
How to open the windows of life, and close the door softly when it is time.
In the darkness, it is your hands that will light the way.
These are my hands.
These are the hands of a midwife.”
Hands- Jan Weingrad from the book ‘The art and soul of midwifery (Davis, L)