March is Women in History month so as I ran across this little tidbit I wanted to share. It is about Mary Ann Hamblin who was Julie B. Beck’s great-great grandmother and a midwife. In case you didn’t know we counseled with Sister Beck as we worked on this book. Her thoughts were invaluable. (You can read more about Heather’s visit with her here.) Sister Beck shares about Mary Ann as she explained three paintings that hung in her office while she served as the General Relief Society President,
“This third painting that hangs in my office depicts a pioneer midwife. It reminds me that one sister, with one skill, can be a blessing to many. An example of this is my great-great-grandmother Mary Ann Hamblin, who was a midwife. She helped bring over 2,000 babies into this world. She made a valuable contribution to the Lord’s storehouse of time and talents.” (Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance, 2009, 4-6).
The manual that this excerpt is from is a training manual for Relief Society Presidents. The word “midwife” literally means “with woman.” I couldn’t help but read this section and think of the many Relief Society Presidents on different levels who have been “with woman” just as a midwife is. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear someone who has served as both a midwife and RS President liken the two callings. It is a privilege to be with women not ahead or behind but beside them, serving next to them with compassion.
A RS President is often called upon to assess the needs of a family, particularly the mother. A midwife also does this. In fact the midwifery model of care insists the midwife monitor the mother’s physical, psychological and social well-being while providing her with individualized education, counseling and hands on assistance. A RS President does much the same while adding to that list a woman’s spiritual well-being. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that many midwives also take into consideration a mother’s spiritual well-being. I know my midwife did with me. We spoke of spiritual matters often. I often felt like I had just had a visiting teacher in my home only she was taking prenatal assessments as we chatted.
The Relief Society motto is “Charity Never Faileth.” The midwives model of care has not named charity by word but midwifery care would have little to offer without it. I have been honored to witness the charity of many different midwives as they watched over, counseled, listened, served and loved the families they come in contact with. It is a midwife’s responsibility to love her work and the people she serves. It has been my observation that anytime charity leaves their work, the work seems to leave them.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Sister Beck is who she is because midwifery as a way to care for others was passed on to her. I know that I am who I am because of the women who came before me and that is why I love honoring women in our history. Their stories really do teach me that Charity Never Faileth.