A letter to a special midwife....


Dear Shelley,

When I saw your face nestled amongst other delegates in a lecture theatre at Coventry University this week, I was overwhelmed. The joy of seeing you made my day, and I am still smiling. How could it be that we lost touch after sharing such a close relationship as young midwives, and young mothers? We grew together didn’t we? You shared your sunshine personality with so many others, and everyone loved you. Including me. I was always delighted when I knew we would be on the same shift, caring for mothers and babies, as I knew the hours would be full of smiles and compassion even when it was busier than we thought possible. I can see you now, coming through the doors of a birth room with a great big smile to help someone else. Always helping- ‘no’ wasn’t in your vocabulary.

One occasion when we worked together stands out above all the others.  You came out of one of the birth rooms on the Delivery Suite at Blackburn and asked me to ‘mind’ Julie, the woman you were looking after, whilst you went to have some lunch.  You sought me out. ‘Sheena this young girl is in early labour and is frightened of me leaving her’.  ‘I promised her I would find someone kind to sit with her whilst I had a quick bite’ you said. You explained that Julie had distressing social circumstances, and she had learning difficulties. I was flattered that you trusted me, and followed behind you into the room. The young woman was crying because you’d gone.  So you hugged her, and kissed her forehead, and as I looked on I caught glimpse of the head lice crawling around her locks of hair. I also became aware of the stench and saw the grime on Julie’s skin and nails, and I bent to her level to try to reassure her that I would stay as close and carefully take good care of her whilst you were gone. Julie swore at me, and said she didn’t want me, only you. You asked if you could go for just 15 minutes, as you were so hungry, and she screamed ‘NO!’.

So you stayed. You stoked her hair, and put your arms around her neck and then moved back to get eye contact. ‘OK Julie, I won’t leave you’.  You didn’t worry about catching the lice, or the offensive smell, you didn’t just care for Julie, you loved her. And she felt it. It may have been a first for her.

I have often recounted this tale Shelley, especially when talking to student or new midwives about real humanity and compassion. I have always considered myself as being up there with others in my ability to nurture, empower and to be kind. But you go beyond that. You are the ultimate midwife, your sensitivity and love is a rare gift, and I am thankful that I witnessed your capacity to make a difference to so many women.

At our unexpected reunion at the Baby Lifeline study day we talked and talked of times gone by, we laughed and we cried. And we spoke of other stars, Anita, Louise Slater, Sue Henry and Katie were amongst those we remembered.

Later that evening I posted the photograph above on Facebook, and these comments from some of your friends quickly appeared:

Patti Hughes Shelley Shore! Lovely lady - and doesn't look a bloody day older!

Jean Duerden Loved it knowing she was in York. A very special person. X

Tina Chatburn Shelley Shore .....loved her tales !!

What do you think about that?

Shelley Shore: a legend

Love from your friend,

Sheena x