Marg Joyce has lost count of the number of babies she has delivered during her 40-year career, but she knows each and every one of them was beautiful and special.
Celebrating four decades of working as a midwife at The Bays Hospital in Mornington, Victoria, Marg said she was amazed time had passed so quickly.
“I really fell into midwifery by accident, I didn’t want to go into that area at all,” she said, laughing.
“But I discovered that I loved it – the whole atmosphere of midwifery, we’re all privileged to be there in a place where not a lot of other people get to be.
“You feel you’re really in a position to help and I just love it. It’s like when you meet someone and you love them – why do you love them? You just do.”
Marg said while services at The Bays had changed and improved over the years, the friendly feel of the hospital had not.
“It’s a small community here and people remember you,” she said.
“I’m now seeing the babies I helped into the world coming in to have their babies! People are always so pleased to see you, so that is lovely.
“It’s just a really lovely hospital, it’s a community hospital – like your family doctor, we’re the family hospital."
She said some babies had been in a hurry to get into the world.
“We’ve had a few babies born in the car park, especially in the early years.
“I remember – back in the day when women wore stockings – one woman was in the car park in labour and the next thing you know, there’s the baby’s head between her legs in the stockings!
“There’s been lots of babies born in the lift on the way up – you just deal with it and it makes for a great story later on.”
Marg said while midwifery was a beautiful and rewarding profession, there were times when it was not so joyful.
“It affects all of us, when we do have little babies that don’t survive,” she said.
“I feel most for the parents, it’s the worst thing that could happen. So we do the best we can for them, and we all feel it too – we’re all human, so that camaraderie with the staff, they know how you feel.
“You can’t help but feel sad when that happens, we’re all human.”
Marg’s own two boys, now aged 35 and 31, were born at The Bays.
“My eldest lives in South Africa with his wife and they have a two-year-old with another baby due in April,” she said.
“I haven’t been able to go over due to COVID, of course. They send photos and we FaceTime, but it’s not the same. I’m really itching to go over there.
“And my 31-year-old doesn’t have any children yet, but I will certainly be hounding him about that soon enough.”
Marg said the connection she felt with the staff, and the mothers she had helped throughout her time at The Bays, was the most special part of her job.
“Women need to feel they are being heard, that you care about them, and you have to ask what do they want from this birth – do they want an epidural and no pain, or do they want to try and do it without pain relief.
“You have to really listen to them and find out what they want and try to do the best we can for them," she said.
Marg, who turns 66 this year, is now winding down her long career.
“I’ve just started the transition to retirement, so I’m working four days a week. In the next couple of years I will retire, and if not for COVID I might have retired by now. I really want to enjoy my grandchildren," she said.
“But I guess I have delayed it because I just love those newborns – I love being in that environment and being helpful.
“The camaraderie with the staff and what I do, has just been part of me for so long.
“I’ve met some good, lifelong friends, and some friends I’ve made when they’ve come in to have a baby.”
Her advice to young nurses is to keep an open mind about their career.
“I didn’t think I’d like midwifery, but now I know there’s nothing I would rather do,” Marg said.
“So have a go and keep your mind open to all the possibilities.
“I’m just surprised that 40 years has gone so quickly, and I hope I’ve left my mark somewhere.”