About Maria Birch

Growing up, I didn't really enjoy singing or dancing, netball or gymnastics.

Instead, I spent most of my spare time on the family farm.

Of the many farm stories I could share with you, there's one my dad still loves to tell over 28 years later.

It begins with a 2-year-old Maria - dressed in pink overalls - ushering a ewe and her newborn lamb into a pen.

Visiting the latest litter of puppies in my favourite pink overalls

Unfortunately for me, mummy sheep was feeling very protective of her baby. Even though I was only slightly taller than her lamb, she must have felt threatened, because she took a step back, bowed down... and launched into me! I flew threw through the air and landed on my bottom.

Mum and dad stood silently, rooted to the spot, waiting for a reaction. Mum was itching to rush over to her first-born to make sure I was okay. Anticipating this, dad - always one for tough love - put his arm out and said, "wait a minute."

Then they watched as I leapt to my feet, marched over to the ewe…

... and gave her the hardest kick in the bottom I could muster!

Dad loves this story so much because he could see his own determination in me. Mum hates it because, well, what mother would want to see their baby get knocked over by a sheep?!

Anyway, as this story illustrates, my parents are like chalk and cheese.

Dad is honest. Sometimes brutally honest. Often to the point of offending people who don't know him. He’s also the most hard-working person I know. And beneath the rough exterior, he’s incredibly kind and gentle.

My mom, on the other hand, is frequently described by people as the nicest person they’ve ever met. She’s also a dedicated grandmother, and gives as much of her love and attention to my daughter Mabel - and to her other grandchildren - as she does to her own kids.

Providing Saturday night entertainment

A birthday on the farm with mum

My parents were incredible role models

Not only did they help shape the person I am today, they also influenced my career path.

Despite pondering a career as a vet - inspired by life on the farm with dad and a love for animals - I ended up following in mum’s footsteps.

When the kids had grown up, she trained as a dental nurse and worked for Torrington Dental Practice for many years.

Her empathy and kindness meant she would do everything in her power to help her patients stay calm and get through the procedure.

So, in search of a healthcare career, but not keen on dentistry, I stumbled on a little-known profession called radiography.

Since then, I’ve done CT and ultrasound scans, worked in A&E and operating theatres, and diagnosed a variety of conditions - from cirrhosis to gall stones, ovarian cysts to aneurysms, DVTs to cancer, and fibroids to muscle tears.

Nowadays, I'm grateful to have found my true calling, doing what I can to help parents like you navigate their pregnancy with as much peace of mind as possible.

Me with a random sheep

At the Sneak-A-Peek clinic

"You were born to do this job"

I hear that from clients on a regular basis. And while I'm not sure I'd go quite so far, they do say you never work a day in your life if you love what you do. That's exactly how I feel about helping expectant parents like you.

Yet sonography isn't my only passion.

Even though I chose a healthcare career over farming, I still get to express my inner country-bumpkin once a year when I take time off to help family with lambing.

I'm pretty sure most people would think I’m crazy to work long days and nights - in the freezing cold - when on "holiday".

But for me, there’s nothing like being outside in the fresh spring air, or the smell of the lambing shed, or driving around the fields to check on the sheep. As dad says - it’s a way of life.

It also reminds me of the values of a loving childhood on the farm, and of how fortunate I am to have a wonderful career helping human mummies bring their babies into the world.

The girls...

Tractor ride with Mabel