love’s labour found

So they called him Dexter.

Like he wasn’t disadvantaged enough by being born to chemically dependent parents – they had to go and name him after a TV serial killer.

Fortunately for young Dexter he will be supported to some degree by the system.

Not so Victoria’s professional midwives.

For the privilege of helping accommodate young Dexter’s arrival, the attending midwife will have clocked a HECs debt of tens of thousands of dollars.

The midwife’s three years of full-time studies will include 12 weeks of unpaid placement.

To qualify she will also need to deliver 40 babies vaginally … not personally obviously, but by herself. Any birth requiring forceps, vacuum, caesarian or where anyone else places a hand on the baby’s head does not count.

She (or more infrequently he) is further required to complete the “follow through journey” which means working unpaid, in their own time with another 40 pregnant women.

Student midwives are also encouraged to attend these births, which may mean staggering to uni after spending up to 17 hours with a labouring mother.

Should the student midwife manage to survive long enough on a diet of baked beans and two minute noodles after paying hospital parking fees and criss-crossing the city to attend pregnant women, they’ll receive the princely sum of $22-an-hour on graduation.

Small wonder then midwifery has such a high attrition rate.

And if the result is Dexter?

The midwife does not judge.

It’s a hallmark of humanity that hope, however faint, accompanies every newborn.

And who knows what the next bairn will bring unto the world?

After all, it’s almost Christmas.



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