This true story tells of Palmerston North woman Julie Watson’s struggle to triumph over adversity and follows her journey to fulfil her dream and become the midwife she was born to be. A nurse aide position in the local maternity annexe as a teenager gave Watson a love for being with women during labour and birth and caring for mothers and their babies.
At the age of 17 she married then, at 20, tragedy stuck when her baby died within an hour of birth. The story then turns to her battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. She went on to have two more children, both born with albinism. Watson is determined, however, and in 1991, at the age of 37, she was accepted into nursing school.
Born For Life is more than just a personal story however. It is a historical journey through the development of antenatal and postnatal care in New Zealand. As a mother of two babies, it was fascinating to read about how it used to be done in the day – from the use of sugar and water as a formula to a mother’s first toilet trip post birth. It was also heartbreaking to read about those times when birth doesn’t go to plan. Watson’s own experience with a baby’s death made me grateful that New Zealand’s attitude to maternal care has changed significantly.
Watson writes succinctly and without fanfare that makes you feel as though she is talking to you one on one. Her recounts of births she has attended are very matter of fact, to the point where I would recommend women who haven’t given birth yet but want children steer clear of the book until their bundles arrive. However, for mums or those interested in a career in nursing or maternity, it is a fascinating read.
Following the story written in Born For Life Watson has travelled extensively and worked in several countries caring for women of different cultures, nationalities and backgrounds. As well as England, she has worked in rural Australia, and volunteered in Africa and Northern Vanuatu as a midwife. These experiences would make for an interesting sequel and I hope Watson puts pen to paper once more.
REVIEWER: Rebekah Fraser
TITLE: Born For Life: A Midwife’s Story
AUTHOR(S): Julie Watson