Closing Speech Németh Móni

As a child, I did not dream about becoming an obstetrician,or a midwife. At medical university I spent my one month ofobstetrical practice at a large and well known clinic. It wasstrange to see this „big factory”, where expectant motherswere coming and going with their round bellies huge withtheir babies. The workers of the factory (the health carers)worked very hard, to the best of their knowledge – many withtrue dedication – and tried to forsee, indicate, and avoid thecomplications threatening the patients. And the expectantwomen visited the examining rooms consciously and waitedwith empty stomachs and pale faces outside the laboratory,and waited anxiously for the results, eager for advice, orders orjudgements. In the meantime they could easily forget that thebaby in their belly was their own most personal affair.
It was quite rare for the boundary to fall and to achieve aperonal contact with someone.I was shocked by the lonelieness and defenclessness of thebirthing mothers in the birthing room. I felt uncomfortable,because often during my work I could not avoid violating thewomens intimate space, and I rarely felt that I could givesomething important in its place.At the final obstetrical exam the kind, elderly professor asked ifI had ever thought about becoming an obstetrician. I looked athim in surprise : never.
In 1998 when I got pregnant with our first baby I began tosearch for alternative possibilities – all the while regularlyattending the examining rooms of the clinic.
Then, when I visited the information evening of the NapvilágBirth House I immediately felt that this was my way.This struckme most forcefully when I realised that here they did not want
to control birth, but to allow this power of birth lift up and andtake the mother with it. The words I heard there convinced methat they dared to trust this power, which I longed for so muchfor myself.
My partner – who is a translator and interpreter – worked atthat time in Italy, so I spent the last months of the pregnancygetting acquainting myself with the system of home birth inItaly, and trying to find the right people to help with the birth ofour baby. I found my midwife with difficulty. There were plentyof midwifes there attending home births, the problem was thatin many cases I felt they would bring the same attitude into myhome that is present in a hospital. It was not that I insisted onthe specific place, between the walls of our rented flat, but I waslooking for the specific attitude I had experienced a few weeksbefore.
The birth of Samu brought along a profession for me, too : Iwanted to become a midwife and nothing else. I guessed thisfeeling was caused by the euphoria of the birth and that it wouldslowly fade away. But after about a year I accepted it andbegan to find the way to become a midwife. That is what I amstill doing, and I have been gaining very important experiencesever since.
I will never forget the birth of Bendegúz and Barnabás. Theminutes when happiness turned into horror. The moment whenI held Borsóka’s chest in my two hands. A strong bond formedbetween us at that moment that kept us together when afterthe death of the little boy his parents left me alone in the roomwhere he lived for his last months. I said good bye then.On the evening of his birth, on Christmas Eve, my family wasasleep when I got home. Only my mother was awake. I told heralone what happened. She listened to me and supported me inthose difficult hours. In the morning I woke with my children (Ihad two boys then) and I was surprised that I did not feel any
different, as a result of what had happened. I was functioning,I was doing my family duties. Then It happened that two dayslater I was going home on my own on the tram. Memoriescame back. I stared in front of me and I was struck by a wall ofpain. A girl was writing an SMS and then she read the answerand laughed. I struck me then that I would never be able to behappy again, to laugh again, maybe even to cry again.
When I could I visited Borsóka. In Kistarcsa the doctorexplained to his parents, when he could be taken off themachines, that now another baby would take his place who is inexactly the same condition, the only difference was that he wasborn in hospital. He was in Svábhegy where the employees ofthe ward even allowed a shaman drumming ritual. I held him inmy arms again and again, I watched his fine signals, I searchedfor that look in his eyes. I admired how his parents lived in thissituation. They stood by him, they did everything for him whichwas possible in human terms. In the meantime they did notforget to smile at each other , at Bendegúz, the twin brother,at me, at the hospital workers. They did not stop believing thatat some point the fate of their son would take a good turn,and they loved him and cared for him. We managed to get thenecessary instruments with my fellow accused colleagues,and Andrea and and the twins could return to their home in thecountryside. They started their everyday life, went for walks,had visitors and visited their friends, They even went horse-riding. They showed the world to their sons and theylearned the world from them. And then one July morningBorsóka flew away.
After the birth of their next baby, Andrea asked me if we wantedmore children. Yes we did, I answered. A week later I knew Iwas expecting a baby. Soon I started to guess that I had twinsin my belly. I could hardly believe it. It was unbelievable, thoughin my family it is quite ’usual’.
Birth is the moment of truth, in my view. All masks fall away atthis time. A birthing woman cannot lie, cannot force anything,cannot decide anything, she can only let it go. When it wasconfirmed that I was expecting twins, I assumed that this wouldbe my hospital birth. I was afraid that at the decisive momentthe memory of the past would make me lame, would preventme from letting my twins into this world. After the ultrasoundexamination the doctors asked what I planned. I would like anormal birth I said and they assured me that it was possible intheir hospital ( the position, and weight of the babies were fine).In the meantime I arranged the practicalities of a home birthleaving the question of the place of birth open. I asked thoseto be there at the birth who were my companions at Borsóka’sbirth.I was in the countryside when the waters of one foetus broke.I was afraid because I was far from Budapest, I usually givebirth fast, and the horror picture of a twin birth on the sideof the motorway haunted me. But I gained strength from thehappiness of my sons and from the joy of the imminent arrivalof the babies. I quickly packed and set out for home. I met mypartner who left his office on the way. He brought the messagethat if it is necessary let’s go into the next hospital. But by then Idid not hesitate about where to give birth.
After arriving home, the birth was fast. I had never had such aconscious birth, All along I knew what was happening, I saw thethe position of the babies in the birth canal. When the first wasborn I did not even look at the poor thing – I knew he was fineand he was in good hands – I was concentrating on his brother.There was a minor complication that was solved by my helpers.I am sure that the birth would have been more complicatedif I could not follow my internal decision. I am grateful to myhelpers who made it possible for me to follow my own way.Months go by. Life goes on. Children are born. There are daysnow when I am not looking for an ANSWER and start to thinkthat there are questions to which I will never get any answer
in my life.A lot of babies have arrived in my hands since, allunforgettable moments. There are more and more importantevents as well. Despite this I think that if at the end of thisearthly life we get some answers to the big questions of ourlives, one of my first questions will be about Barnabás.