There are few experiences in life that change you forever. Some are obvious, but some are not obvious until they are in hindsight. This past weekend changed me in both ways.
My family recently experienced a great loss. My eldest aunt, Mary Lou, passed away suddenly, but peacefully in her flower garden cradled by her husband of 45 years. She was a force to be reckoned with, a rebel, a rule breaker, and lived by her own terms until the day she died at 73.
She was a nun, but left the convent and married the love of her life. She was a nurse, and a doula, and challenged the medical system. I only learned recently that she was not only my own mother’s labour support, but supported many of the women in my family during childbirth. Amazingly, she was also one of the very early fighters for the father’s right to be present in the delivery room. Something that is common practice today, but not so long ago was unheard of.
Working in the business of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and having beliefs that challenge some of the protocols of modern medicine can often feel like we are fighting a losing battle. I am so grateful for the experience I shared with my family this weekend, because it reminded me of the enormous effect one person with passion can have on such an immeasurable number of people. Story after story was told of how this one woman inspired countless others to listen to their hearts, to go after their dreams, to trust their instincts, and to stand up for what you believe in, even if you stand alone.
So it is with great pride that I take this opportunity to remind all of the amazing women we have the honour to work with every day, the defenders of babies, the powerful protectors of intuition, that you ARE making a difference. That all it takes is one person to create change, but we are many, and our army gets bigger every day.
In honour of Mary Lou Atkinson 1940 – 2013.
“Listen to your heart; it knows where it’s going.”