Midwife Training

I remember stillborn children I have seen,
during my training to become a midwife:

They were dropped in a storeroom,
on metal plates, covered with a drape – if at all.

We were forced to look at them for learning purposes.
It gave some fellow trainees the creeps.
We all were shocked.

Some of these dead children had abnormalities
or were tiny, with transparent red skin.

One of the obstetricians had specialised
in prenatal diagnostic and he “collected”
foetuses of “special interest”.

During my training, as a 19 or 20 year old,
I had attended three women during induced
premature labour staying with them at their bedsides.

Utterly inexperienced, I had tried to support them
during their painful labour.
Afterwards one woman gave me the book:
“The Little Prince”.

An experienced midwife wasn’t available for these mothers:
I was to ring for the doctor “when it’s time”
– something I could not at all judge back then.

At one occasion during an ultrasound examination
the doctor diagnosed Siamese twins.

The pregnant woman was still on the examination bed
when he said to her:
“You have a monster in your womb!”

The woman didn’t dare to look at her babies
after the caesarean. During night duty
I told her what I had seen in school that day:

One being or two?

It had one head – but two faces – like Janus.
One half of each face belonged to each child.
One shared body with four arms and four legs.

I was profoundly moved by this little creature
and had spent a good while looking at it.
To me there was nothing monstrous – it was magical –
like a mythical being that wasn’t meant for living in this world.

It died right after the caesarean,
I’m afraid, all alone and on this metal plate
on which it was presented to us afterwards.