Midwives are in the news again. We can’t tell our stories as individuals, because we risk breaching professional boundaries and client confidentiality. Our hands are tied, from telling our stories as midwives. But. I am more than a midwife. I am a woman, and I can tell that story.
One day at work, I saw a woman being assaulted. She was trying to birth her baby, and somebody came into the room, told her to be quiet and then put their fingers into her vagina, and shouted at her. As a woman, a mother, a rape survivor and a human being in that room, I was traumatized. And it wasn’t even my vagina.
Another day, at work, I saw a colleague sit on the floor and cry. She was exhausted, on her third birth of the day, scared of making a mistake but with nobody to hand over care to, she was left to continue. As a woman, a friend, and a human being, I wanted to cry with her.
I have cried at work, because I have been yelled at, stood over, been “told off” and been undermined for no reason other than to undermine me. I have smiled at work because I have seen so much beauty. I have cried at work because sometimes my work is sad. I have laughed, so many times, because my colleagues are hilarious. I have stood up to bullies, cringed before bullies and tried not to see bullies. I have worked with powerful women, inspirational midwives, courageous doctors, life saving anaesthetists, and stalwart clerical support workers.
I have left my daughters hospital bed to go support a woman in labour. I have left a funeral to help someone with breastfeeding, I have sited an IV line after working for 30 hours straight. I have caught a beautiful bouncing baby just an hour after witnessing the birth of an angel baby. I have raced an ambulance to a house and beat them. I have driven women to hospitals because they had no other transport. I have caught babies in hallways and doorways and on kitchen floors. I have caught babies before I have seen their mothers faces, buried as they were in a partners shoulder or the carpet. I have had fathers faint, laugh, high five me, shout at me.
I have missed my husbands birthday, my children’s milestones, my best friends parties. I have left more dinners uneaten and eaten more toast in hospitals than any person ever should. I have missed meetings, parent teacher interviews, weddings, Christmas. I have seen things that fill my heart with joy, and other things that haunt my dreams.
And then I left LMC work, and became a core midwife.
It is not easier. I can promise you that midwives want to make a difference. We do not do it for the money. We do not do it for the fame. We most certainly do not do it for the glory. We cannot tell our stories as midwives, for fear of breaching professional standards or client confidentiality.
But, you women. You can tell your stories. You can tell the stories of when we helped you. Of when we tried. Of when we cried with you, or breathed with you, or held you up. Of when we stayed with you all night and into the next day. Of when we left you, in tears, because we were too exhausted to continue. Of when we let you down. Of when we built you up. Of when we were there. Of when we saved your life. Of when we tried, but failed.
Of when we were too tired, and made mistakes. Of when we didn’t. Of when you saw us bullied. Of when you saw us fight. Of when we answered your bell. Of when we allayed your fears, or detected the problem, or referred you in a timely manner so that the appropriate interventions could be made. Share them. Roar with us. Tell our government, and our DHB bosses, and the other women in this country that you want to keep us. And why you want to. Write your stories, on your blogs, in the comments, on your facebook pages, on twitter. Speak them, in your coffee groups, on talk back, in parliament. Write your stories, tell your stories, share your memories about us, so we can have a voice through you.