The love-letter I needed to write.
If I did a stocktake of the posts I’ve written for Mamamia over the past three years, I suspect there would be a dominant theme to them: outrage.
I’m good at being outraged. At being pissed off. At putting pen to paper (or chewed fingernail to filthy keyboard) when I spot an injustice or something that just, you know, shits me.
Politicians behaving like twats! Sexist ads! Doctors shaming older mothers! Former Home and Away stars getting precious and boasting about their French bulldogs!
Fuelled by angry thoughts, five cups of tea and, yeah okay, several Oreos I’m banging out a call to arms faster than you can say, “Girlfriend needs some Xanax and a good lie down”.
Of course what rarely crosses my mind is to write posts when I stumble across something amazing. Something that makes me catch my breath it’s so damn delightful. Or something that exceeds my expectations in ways I never saw coming.
Which is why I’m writing this post today. Consider it a love letter. To midwives.
Last year, some of you will remember that I had a less than fantastic experience having my son Fin. I felt bullied by some of the midwives … especially when I was berated at the maternity ward’s front desk (in front of other new mums and staff) for not ‘trying hard enough to breastfeed’. Forget the fact that I was breastfeeding.
I apparently just wasn’t doing it well enough.Or often enough. Or long enough. Or blah blah blah blah YOU’RE A SHIT MOTHER blah blah blah (which is what I eventually started to hear). Ahhh, good times.
The whole experience left me feeling a little, er, bitter towards the whole midwife profession which is a ridiculous over-reaction, I know. Particularly considering two of my friends are (amazing) midwives. And my own mum is a nurse.
But when you have a baby – be it in a hospital or birthing centre – I truly believe the midwives play an integral role in the whole experience.
When you’re a nervous, scared, fragile soon-to-be-mother or new mother … doubting your abilities, stressing about what lays ahead or your decision-making or your body’s ability to do what is required, well the very last thing you need is a woman by your side making you feel incompetent or worse, like a bad mother. It’s not rocket-science.
So last month when I went to hospital to have my son Quincy, to say I was apprehensive is an understatement. It wasn’t the caesarean I was worried about. No siree. I was in a cold sweat about the midwives. This is despite the fact I was giving birth this time in a different hospital in a DIFFERENT state.
And yet my experience in having Quincy could not have been more amazing, more nurturing, more positive and it was all because of the team of midwives at the hospital I was in last month. And as someone who exclusively breastfed one baby and combo fed (breast and bottle) another, I’ll also say that I learned more about breastfeeding in 20 minutes from a fabulous midwife called Sam than I have from any other midwife at any other hospital in the past. It made me realise that having a successful breastfeeding experience is as much about connecting with the RIGHT midwife at the right time who ‘gets you’ as it is to do with your boobs and your baby.
Anyway, the day Quincy and I were due to go home to my crazy zoo of a family, I cried saying goodbye to these women … they’d meant that much to me.
And that’s the thing: if a bad apple midwife can leave you feeling like the most hopeless mother on the face of the planet, then the opposite is certainly true too.
A fabulous midwife can leave you feeling confident and capable and NORMAL even at 2am when your baby is crying and you’re crying and wondering whose idea it was to have this baby in the first place and WHERE IS THE CHOCOLATE?
So consider this post a giant THANK YOU to all the amazing midwives out there. The midwives who hold our hands while we’re in labor, who are one step ahead in predicting what we need and how we’re feeling whether we’re six cm dilated or about to be wheeled into theatre for a caesearean.
Thank you to those midwives who in those early hours and days of new motherhood make us feel capable and supported, nurtured and understood. The midwives who get it, who know the right thing to say or do while we are overwhelmed with thirty emotions at once.
The midwives who accept and respect our choices, who know that looking after a mother’s mental and emotional well-being can only have a positive ripple effect onto the little bundle for which we are now responsible. And, of course, the midwives who so tenderly and gently care for the women whose babies never come home.
If I haven’t said it enough in the past – and I know I haven’t – your hard work and dedication and care is so, so appreciated. So thank you to every single midwife at Greenslopes Private Hospital where I had Quincy — you made me feel so supported. And thank you too to the midwives at North West Private Hospital who so tenderly looked after me after I lost Georgie in 2010.
I, for one, am a better mother because of all of you.
*This post first appeared on Mamamia.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.