Marie Wash is from a rural farming community in Cahir and works as a clinical midwife manager in South Tipperary General Hospital.
She explains how her work as a midwife has continued as usual in recent months.
“In this line of work, life continues as always. People continue to have babies, so we continue to come to work. Although we are going through a pandemic, we try to make the experience for families as special as possible," she says.
“As one could expect, COVID-19 has been challenging for all of us working in healthcare, but the management team in South Tipperary General Hospital were very proactive in February in preparing us all for the challenges ahead," she continues.
"They have been very supportive throughout the pandemic and in the early days of COVID when we were very unsure of the road ahead."
Despite challenges in recent months, Marie’s passion for her job is inherent.
The birth of a baby is always so special and every experience is unique
“My job is such a privilege," she smiles. "The birth of a baby is always so special and every experience is unique.
"The moment when a baby is first born and meets their parents is such a wonderful moment. To be there during this special time, whilst also being able to offer support and advice to new parents, is such a privilege.
“I am often stopped at social gatherings to be introduced to a young man or woman, then to be told by their mothers that I was present at their birth," she laughs.
"This feeling of pride doesn’t go away but it does remind me that I am getting old!”
Every day is different
Every day is different in the healthcare sector. Marie says, at any given time, she could be working in any area of the maternity unit. This includes the antenatal, labour and postnatal wards.
She enjoys the teaching aspect of her work; being able to impart knowledge to students and junior healthcare professionals.
While work has continued in recent months, significant changes have been made in hospitals, as one would expect.
“Wearing PPE gear - especially face coverings - can make it difficult to interact with the public, but we make a conscious effort to make them feel at ease,” Marie explains.
I find it difficult when I have to tell the partners that restricted visiting is in place
“I find it difficult when I have to tell the partners that restricted visiting is in place," she continues.
"This is in place to protect the staff, as well as the other mothers in our care. I miss the craic with the partners and supporting them as they transition to parenthood in the early days post-birth."
Marie maintains she has seen huge resilience in mothers as they chat and keep each other company in the wards while caring for their babies, but she hopes hospitals can return to allowing families to spend time together after the birth of a child.
After a day of work, Marie finds relief in getting outdoors.
“Getting out on the farm has been very beneficial for my wellbeing during COVID-19, as so much has changed within the maternity services," she says.
"There is nothing like a walk in the fields on my days off to reduce any stress or worry I have.”
Marie will be working during the festive season.
I love the thought of heading home for a turkey and pudding after facilitating the birth of baby
“In most jobs, people are winding down in the lead up to Christmas," she laughs. "However, we are getting ready for what is always a busy period!
"It’s a very special time to be working in the maternity unit and I love the treats and the carol singings.
“I will be working on Christmas Day and there is always a great festive feeling in the air here in South Tipperary General Hospital," she continues.
"This year it will be different, but I always try and see the positive side of things. I love the thought of heading home for a turkey and pudding after facilitating the birth of baby!”
When asked if she has any advice for the people of Ireland, Marie’s optimism shines through once more:
“Keep active and keep healthy. As with all things in life, COVID-19 will end and we’ll have new beginnings.”