The Travelling Midwife

Life Has Seasons

Family in St Albans

When I was 55 years old I looked forward. Life would become calmer. It would settle. I would have some time on my hands. How wrong I was.

Now I am 60 and so much has happened. I opened a Birth Centre in Cape town. I helped homeless people, adopted a traumatised German Shepherd and attended many, many beautiful births. I mentored students and went into a time of deep introspection and learning myself. I left Cape Town in early 2017 and moved to Mooi River to help care for my mum on her horse farm. I travelled to births and built up a network in a new home, Kwazulunatal.

Horses Grazing on Horselovers Farm
Horses Grazing on Horselovers Farm in Kwazulunatal

Over the next year, several bouts of debilitating tick bite fever left me weakened. I made the decision to leave South Africa and join my sons in the United Kingdom. As of March 2018, a new journey has begun.

Great Britain looks like a small island on the map, yet I am always surprised by how large everything is. And how far it is to travel, although public transport is quite efficient. Greater London now contains an overwhelming 10 million people, so that’s a lot of people to get to know! The Thames river is beautiful and the bridges are picturesque decorations around her neck. I live in St Albans now; a quaint old village on the outskirts. There are lots young people here, like me! I am finding my way.

Family in St Albans
A walk wth family at Verulamium in St Albans

In the same breath, it feels like I have abandoned all that i have loved and known in South Africa for the last 49 years. Where my heart has laughed and cried, wept and sung with joy. The beauty of wide open spaces, the dry land and harsh weather. All the groups I helped form, old school friends, close friends, horsey friends, my midwifery colleagues, all my lovely clients and their babies….I miss you. I miss the work done, the roots I pushed down deep below the shallow soil, into the rocks and boulders below. I miss the hardy fynbos and the rugged veld. I miss my animals.

And yet I feel like a newborn baby, naked in a brand new world. Letting go of the motherland’s blood that fed my veins. Letting go of the people I have been so close to. Letting go hurts. Perhaps it is one of the reasons babies cry after they are born.

At the same time, I embrace this new world, discover the textures, the smells, the tastes, the landscapes of my future here. There is loss, yet also excitement and anticipation. I am being born again, refashioned in new ways, adapting to the start of a new season in my life.

22 thoughts on “Life Has Seasons”

  1. Ah Marianne, I am so pleased for you as you embrace your new season, and a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see you one last time. You are a woman of incredible strength and courage, and you awaken the same in the women you serve. Such a beautiful thing to see women enriched and empowered through their birthing experiences. Thank you for your wisdom, guidance and great skill at the birth of our dear Nathan. He is, as you predicted from the womb, a gentle, play-dead rather than flee, soul. We love him dearly. Judson still speaks about you and helping his ‘baby come out’. He has now put in an order for a sister- two sisters actually. One for him and one for Nathan… I little sad you’ll be too far to call on if we go with his plans. Much love, Stacey

  2. You were a mother to me when I birthed my two sweet boys, you play such a huge role in our lives, and we will remember you with fondness and gratitude until we are old and surrounded by our own grandchildren. Thank you xxxx

  3. Marieanne!! You are really a one in a million and will surely be missed by all those whose lives you have touched. Always there to guide and share words of wisdom and calm everyone when nerves were strung. My family will always be grateful to you for the beautiful birthing experiences we have gone through with you. Wishing you all the best for the future and I’m sure you will fit in absolutely fine. May you always see the beauty in everything there like you did in SA. Missing you

  4. Marianne, how blessed we were to have you with us at Tigerlily’s birth in July 2016. You have such an open heart and generous nature and are truly one in a million. We will always remember you fondly and hold you dear in our hearts. All the best in this new chapter. Sabrina Woodbridge and family

  5. Dear Marianne,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. Reading your words has deeply touched my heart where so many corresponding feelings relate to yours since leaving Cape Town almost three years ago to be closer to family.
    Welcome to the same soil and know you have an open-armed invitation and welcome in Totnes Devon.
    Blessings and much love xx Fiona Almeleh

  6. Dear Marianne, you deserve to be nurtured and surrounded by love as you have done for so many! I wish you so much love, peace and family time. You are a wonderful woman, South Africa is poorer without you. Love from me, Candice; Nathan, who you helped me birth on a cold winter’s day in Sea Point; Riley, who arrived before you could and Gareth, who is forever grateful that you took care of us as these enormous changes were taking place xxx

      1. Yes! An opportunity for us to embark on an adventure to NZ came up unexpectedly. We have been here 6 months and are grateful for all the beauty and the laid-back lifestyle. We do miss South Africa — it is always in us!

  7. Marianne I love the way you write and your experiences have provoked deep thoughts… You are courageous and full of love. Love and strength go with you on this leg of your journey xx

  8. Dear Marianne. How beautiful and touching it is reading this piece.I thought of you this afternoon. It is the first time I had been back to Grotto bay since A’s birth. I carried him on my hip this time instead of inside my tummy as we walked where you and I walked waiting for labour to kick in. You are amazing and I am grateful our paths crossed. The UK now cradles three people close to my heart. I hope your new season is filled with rich blessing there.

  9. We miss you just as much. It is a brave thing, to be born, it seems, but life takes us or brings us on this journey. It is a brave thing to move across land and seas as you have done. There is blessing in being brave. Slowly you wil send down new roots and little shoots of life will emerge and you will blossom. Lots to look forward to, Marianne. Be blessed.

    1. Thank you Debby for your fire and your courage. You are an inspiration in your commitment and dedication. Thank you for what you are doing for mothers and midwives in your patch and for what you have done for me.

  10. Marianne x I wish you many blessings onot your new journey of rebirth. We are in UK doing the same. We are moving into a tiny cottage near Nottingham for me to study further. So thank you for your words of wisdom, they have really helped x

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