On Breaking Points.

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.


20 thoughts on “On Breaking Points.

  1. Lil says:

    Without my midwife I don’t know how I would have got through an unplanned home birth she raced to.me as soon as I called and said I wanna push she was my support when I rung her she made me feel I was good Hands and safe because of her my baby was delivered safely at home without any problems
    Let’s keep.midwives.
    I’m inspired by the work they do my dream wood be to be a midwife.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Emma Reid says:

    So professional & caring throughout such a amazing time,it’s something to be forever greatful for ❤️ Thank you Lisa Wood.


  3. Dana says:

    My midwives were amazing, supportive, funny, patient, calm, caring… I could go on! They made me feel like like a super woman, capable of pushing my babies out without any problems and when there were a few complications they were in control and sorted them out without me knowing and worrying. When they left me after 6 weeks I was devistated… like I had lost my best friend. The bond you share with them is intense, so much trust, time and sharing with them. I couldn’t have done it without them. They are awesome and they are needed!


  4. Virginia S says:

    I’ve had the same midwife for all my 5 babies except 1. Even though she was not present for 1 she made sure I was in good hands. She was awesome n always on hand. My pregnancies were ugly n labour lol. But she was always reassuring n funny thru everything. Even after birth she was great. I owe her alot as well as the other midwives I’ve met. Words could not describe or say how thankful I am to them. They make alot of sacrifices at hme for their paitents. I was blessed with my midwife. That I named our eldest daughter after her Geesje❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lin says:

    My best friend is a midwife …and I have seen with her…through her… exactly what you described above … She is an amazing friend and sometimes when she squeezed a coffee with me in-between births and visits I am astonished how strong she is … She would never give up but I know that she has been at a breaking point a few times … She has fantastic friends and a most caring and understanding partner … Without them /him and all our support she would have turned around a few times I am sure.
    The beauty of birth she always loves to describe also the sad moments when she is in tears and I know that it wasn’t a good birth still want me to have my own baby .
    I am now pregnant …she is my best friend but not my midwife …but she is close, she is always there for me and encourages me to listen to my own feelings and instinct …

    I have deepest respect for the “job” your are doing … Without you beautiful beings so many woman would be helpless , discouraged,just a humann who gives birth … You make such a big difference in pregnancy and birth and the new start …

    Whatever the government is up to again – I hope you wonderful woman will always be by our side … We need you … We want you ….


  6. Susan says:

    I’ve always been very lucky that with my 3 kiddies I had the best support I could ever wish for. With my oldest son we had an amazing midwife. When I got pregnant again I was very sad to find out that she had moved to the North Island, so I had to look for another midwife. Then I found Bex Tidball. We went along really well. Everything seemed to be okay with the baby, until the 20 week scan. Then we found out that our second son had a major heart condition and we had to terminate the pregnancy. Bex was with me when I was in labour and, she was the best support my husband and I could think of. When I got pregnant again we rang her straight away. She was very happy for us and again she was amazing when my daughter was born. The first weeks with our baby girl were hard, but I knew I could always ring her. We even named our daughter after her daughter.
    Having a midwife you can trust next to you when you’re in labour is so important. I have so much respect for the midwifes, because it’s hard work physically and emotionally. A pregnancy doesn’t always end in a healthy baby. But Bex managed to turn the sad experience of losing a baby, into a beautiful moment.


  7. Keri says:

    Thank you. I was an LMC, then a pregnant woman with high-risk complications, then a temporary /casual core midwife, then a woman in labour, and then a mother.
    I never fully appreciated what we do (I thought I did) until I was on the receiving end of such exceptional LMC and core midwife care.
    I love them for what they did for me.
    For providing 28 weeks of LMC care knowing she was never going to get any labour fee. For leaving her home at 3am on a Sunday morning to spend the day at my labour. For coming on shift as the charge midwife and smiling at me and making sure I had whoever and whatever I needed.
    For leaving my bedside after 13 hours there and handing over because you needed to sleep.
    For coming in as a core midwife taking over from my LMC and still being my rock and keeping my partner calm.
    For coming to visit me the next day and debriefing.
    For showering me when I could hardly move and had to sit on the stool.
    For changing my baby’s nappies and handing her to me when I was immobile strapped in bed with cuffs on both arms and flowtrons on my legs.
    For coming to visit me every single day at the postnatal care unit.
    For coming to visit me far away at my mother’s home on a Sunday for the “first 24 hour home” visit.
    For taking me back for 5/6 weeks of postnatal care when I returned home.
    For letting me just be a woman, a new mum, and not expecting me to have the answers.
    For showing up. For being outstanding humans. I could cry writing this if I let myself truly feel the wave of emotion that’s hiding at the back of my throat.

    One day when I can return to core and/or on-call work after my leave ends, I will show up for other women, because EVERYONE deserves care that good.

    We are so god damned lucky in this country to have care like this. This list is only a BRIEF version of all the amazing things those midwives did for me (I also worked with a male midwife too, I might add, he came to visit me on his ward as soon as I was brought out of recovery.)

    The media and the govt (but mostly the media) need to hear our voices, and stop taking this spectacular service for granted. We will all be oh-so-sorry if we ever lose it.


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