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Thank you

I said goodbye to my midwife last week.

I remember my excitement when I first heard her voice on the end of the phone. I was pregnant. Finally! My husband and I were absolutely ecstatic and utterly terrified. We had gone to our GP to declare our good news. Our test had been positive the day we had decided bite the bullet and “do” IVF so we had seen them the day before. It was so surreal.

My husband said: “aren’t you going to do a test?” Our GP stared at him bemused “well didn’t you do a pregnancy test?” He asked.

I’d done five, I’d been buying them in bulk so I just kept peeing on them. Stick after stick. My husband stared disbelieving as every one showed two stripes.

“One means you’re pregnant. You did five. So you’re pregnant.” 

I think we just didn’t want to trust a stick. Or five sticks. I’d had four surgeries to treat endometriosis. My first was just two weeks after meeting my husband. We were 17 and 18. I was told then I would struggle to have kids. I went off contraception after my third surgery. I had scar tissue, a damaged Fallopian tube, and we wanted kids. I was 22. I got pregnant at 26.

They take photos of your insides when they go in during surgery and you can request them afterward. I put mine on the fridge. When people would peer at the photos and say “wow, what’s that?” I took great delight in saying “That’s my uterus!” I’ve always been an oversharer.

Our GP said our first step was a dating scan and then provided that went well, we needed to find a midwife. The dating scan was important our GP said, we were at risk of ectopic pregnancy because of my medical history. We needed to wait another two weeks for the scan. Our honeymoon was booked for the next day. We went on our honeymoon worried the whole time that our baby was in the wrong place (the nice way of referring to an ectopic pregnancy I suppose). We said we wouldn’t get excited and instead would pretend I wasn’t pregnant until we returned and had the scan.

Two hours into our honeymoon we bought a onesie that said “I listen to Led Zeppelin with my daddy”. I puked all over the floor of our fancy hotel room. I puked in our fancy hotel bed. We went down to the hotel lobby to have our buffet breakfast and I puked in a plant. I’m sorry for puking in a plant hotel I won’t name.

I puked watching Lamb of God, Hell Yeah, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Gojira, and System of a Down at Soundwave. My husband gazed lovingly at me the whole time. Every spew was a good sign he said.

We had our dating scan a few hours after arriving back in New Zealand. We sobbed staring at the little eight week dot. Our dot was in the right place. We carried the picture around for weeks insisting that it looked like us. The dot replaced my messed up (but clearly not that messed up) ovaries on the fridge. 

We booked a midwife. Hearing her say congratulations down the phone was one of the most exciting moments in my life. It signalled so much. Our long wanted journey had begun. It was real. Our midwife made it real.

I had a terrible pregnancy. I vomited every day for 25 weeks. Then I vomited every second or third day for the rest of my pregnancy. But my midwife was always there with me. She cheered us on. She kept me excited even when I was exhausted and overwhelmed. She more than tolerated my tears of frustration in her office. She was more than my midwife, she was my counsellor too. 

I felt so guilty that I had wanted a baby for so long but I absolutely hated pregnancy. I didn’t feel in touch with my body, I couldn’t stop puking, I felt unhealthy, exhausted, overwhelmed, I sure as fuck wasn’t glowing. She was so patient and caring and gentle with me. She always made me feel like I was strong and she gave me so much confidence. She never denied my feelings. 

My midwife wasn’t actually there for my first son’s birth. It was her weekend off. But she’d built me up and made me feel brave so I wasn’t scared when he came at 37 weeks. The on-call midwife was lovely. I have never met a midwife who isn’t a wonderful person. It seems to just be a prerequisite. There must be something about the job that attracts selfless people.

In New Zealand we have an amazing system that includes post-partum support so my midwife continued to visit for six weeks after my son was born. When he developed health complications she continued to support me for a further three weeks, helping me navigate that difficult world, before gently handing me over to a specialist team. She was always professional and I felt like she really cared about us. I really feel that she set my little whānau up to prepare for all of the challenges that lay ahead. There is nothing more terrifying than having a sick child, but I had moments of calm in the dark of the hospital late at night when I thought of my midwife telling me I was strong and I could Do This.

I swore I would never have another baby all the way through my pregnancy so I loved hearing my midwife’s familiar laugh two years on when I rang her to say I was pregnant again. I had another terrible pregnancy which I will likely one day blog about. But again, my midwife was a rock. She shared my care with another midwife who I immediately fell in love with. She had tattoos and pink hair. I mean Jesus: She was My People! She helped me breast feed so she’ll forever have a place in my heart. Every time my little one hungrily gulps down milk I think of her. She also helped me when I started to really lose it from all the vomiting. My second pregnancy took a huge emotional toll on me. The support I had from my midwives was everything during those months where I felt so out of it. They respected me. They were professional. Kind. Gentle. Caring. Compassionate.

My main midwife delivered my second boy and she was incredible. Again, one day I’ll blog his birth story because that shit was crazy. But honestly, she was amazing. There’s no way I would have made it through that labour and delivery without her incredible skill and support. 

I’ve been cared for by five midwives over my two pregnancies, one for a delivery, another for a false alarm, another for another false alarm, and another as cover for my main midwife…they’ve all been awesome, awesome people. I want to thank them all. I want to thank all of the midwives who care for us and bring our babies into the world. I want them always to have chocolate in their fridge and coffee in their pantries.

I said goodbye to my midwife last week and it broke my heart a little bit. I thanked her of course, but my words weren’t adequate. How can you ever thank someone enough for making you a family, twice? 

My midwife made me a mother. I can never thank her enough.

 

 

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25 Comments

  1. Hello. This is my first time posting. I really enjoy your writing and felt compelled to say hello today as I have a very similar story to yours re endometriosis, surgery, youth diagnosis, and being told it would be a struggle. I have a 1 year old now, after a year of trying and clomid, and I always feel a kinship when I read about other’s endometriosis stories. I too had a fabulous midwife and I am grateful to her every day. She made my birth story my happy place. Thanks for reminding me 🙂

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  2. Ophelia Love

     /  March 23, 2015

    I so can’t relate. I wish I could. The closest I can is one nurse when I had my first. She was wonderful to me in labor, though she came on late & wasn’t there for most of it…I can’t help but be certain it would have been better had she come on earlier… In fact, they had the nerve (truly) to change shifts as I was getting ready to push…hospital rules. So my support people left. One came back, on her own time, to stay with me….I was begging them not leave…and eight years later I am surprised I am still typing through tears to remember how desperate I felt to not be left.

    But that one nurse…she did my 3 days of aftercare due to a rough healing and she said something to me that was invaluable…”Look at you, you are such a natural. What a wonderful mother you will be”…and my broken body & weak spirit so badly needed exactly that. When i returned to have my next baby, she was gone & I actually cried that they wouldn’t tell me how I could find her.

    Sadly here, midwifes are hard to come by & even harder to afford. I would have had to put up $3,800 USD (about 2,500 GBP) to get one, as my insurance does not cover it. Homebirth isn’t even an option as none are licensed in my county. My only affordable option was to have an ObGyn, at a hospital & then to find out in the end, that my deductible wasn’t met & I had to pay $5,000 (about 3,300 GBP) anyway….ugh. At least there was a payment plan…with a midwife it had to be paid in full up front. I don’t blame them, it’s just not feasible for most.

    I had such mixed feelings reading this, I had to come back to it three times before I could read it. It just hurts to KNOW how different it could be, yet out of reach for us here…then there is the 6 weeks maternity leave that is unpaid we also get…but that’s just another layer of how insensitive we are to new moms here. If your company is big enough to qualify, you can file for 12 weeks under the family medical leave act…but there is a minimum size requirement before they have to hold your job.

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    • Thank you for sharing even though it must have been very painful to. I hope New Zealanders read it and appreciate how lucky we are. I can’t imagine having to pay for a pregnancy or after care. Or even medical care for your child. I don’t really understand how that even works – everyone should have access to midwives and home birth. We have 14 weeks paid maternity leave here and I’ve complained about that not being enough before, your comment reminded me to never take for granted what we have. Thank you again for sharing and I’m truly sorry you haven’t had access to the support all women deserve. Xx

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      • Ophelia Love

         /  March 24, 2015

        Dang it – in my sleepy state I converted to GBP instead of NZD…lol

        It is $5000 USD to $6500 NZD…lol
        and $3800 USD to $5000 NZD…oh well. Mom brain. 😉

        And thank you for your kind words. Because we do so lack support within ANY system here, I try very hard to be as supportive as I can to moms I know. It’s like trying to heal damage…yet many here know no different, so they don’t even know that it could have been so much better. I am so tired of public service awareness messages about post partum depression, as if the way we do things here isn’t WHY you are depressed…like it’s chemical rather than environmental. 😉 PPD is real, some people have that, and some people are just finding the reality of how we do it hard to cope with & that is NORMAL.

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  3. shodges

     /  March 22, 2015

    Thanks for your lovely story being a midwife is the most rewarding and challenging job in the world and I love my work every day. There’s nothing better than the minute where mum and dad meet there baby in the flesh I will never get tired of this part of my job. I have been doing this job for 14 years and I like to thank the families for allowing me to be part of their amazing journey.

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  4. Fiona H

     /  March 21, 2015

    Great post. And great comments. There IS an international day of the midwife, May 5th.

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  5. kirsten

     /  March 19, 2015

    Hay there,
    Were your midwives in blockhouse bay? If so I think I was their student! I’m currently on my second year and it’s tough!! Reading this made me feel sooo proud of what I’m doing and I can’t wait for the day where I hope I make a mumma feel just like you, it’s. So humbling to be apart of journeys like yours!! Thanks for this, it’s such an inspiration and the reason I can’t wait to graduation 🙂
    All the best mumma!! Enjoy your wee ones… they grow too fast!!

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  6. I loved reading this post, thank you so much for sharing! I’m a student midwife in Australia and I’m determined to be the best midwife I can.

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  7. When I hear stories like this I’m totally convinced that angels exist. Lovely post!

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  8. I’m so glad you had such a positive experience with your midwives. Where I live in the UK we have one team of community midwives who look after you before delivery, another team at the hospital and another team after discharge so there’s no real continuity so you don’t really build a relationship. Due to the way their teams are structured, I don’t think they really get to care as they would like to. They seemed quite frustrated that they wouldn’t find out what would happen to you. As we live on the edge of health authorities and ended up giving birth in our neighbouring authority as our local NICU was full, the problem was exacerbated as procedures were different and there was no real handover. The NHS is a wonderful thing, but it needs the odd tweak to how it ‘works’

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    • I’m so grateful for our system in New Zealand. I’m sure it helps that we are a small country. I was aware it was unique but didn’t know just how different it was. As you probably gathered from this post – you usually have one midwife from start to finish. And often the same midwife covers for your midwife (at least they do in Wellington). We are so lucky to have this system, I really think it’s the best way to ensure great outcomes for mothers and babies, but I worry it is taken for granted here. I’m appalled by some of the media coverage there is of the system – it’s mostly negative. And I think that’s often born in misogyny because this system is fundamentally women caring for women. I don’t know much at all about NHS but I hope tweaks are made if possible. At least it is midwife run? Thanks for your comment.

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  9. I can relate to the thoughts and feelings you are conveying. Saying goodbye to the team of midwives who had looked after me for almost eight years felt like a major life milestone and a very emotional one. I was in a small, remote, rural location so it was the same small group of midwives who looked after me in all of my pregnancies. I had complications in all of my pregnancies and they were always there to reassure me no matter what it took. I remember one getting out of bed in the wee small hours to give me a sonogram and help settle my nerves. When my fourth son was stillborn, one of them came just to sit with me on my first day home alone with the kids, just to be there for me if and when I needed to talk, and another visited me after the autopsy results. All above and beyond their remit. They stopped in when they were passing to check how I was managing things with a preemie baby and three other kids, even if it was just to make me a mug of tea. I was only sad that they were never able to deliver my babies as I had to travel to the city to give birth. They were a special bunch who shepherded me through a period in my life that was full of joy and happiness but also very fraught and challenging. I was so grateful to them. Saying goodbye to them professionally (small community meant it was never an actual goodbye and I am now connected to a couple of them on Facebook since we emigrated) was even more emotive because it felt like part of the process of saying goodbye to that whole phase of my life. No more fertility stuff, no more peeing on sticks, no more pregnancies or newborn babies. Midwives deliver more than babies: they deliver joy and happiness.

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    • Your comment made me cry. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what that’s like. I’m so glad you had support.
      Midwives are a beautiful bunch and your comments really struck a chord for me – saying goodbye does mean the end of a journey. That’s what makes it extra sad. Though I became FB friends with one of my midwives as a result of this post so yay! I think I’ll just have to try and have another baby to keep seeing my other midwife! 😉

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  10. Cath

     /  March 18, 2015

    This post is so lovely I’m waiting on my interview date for my midwifery course I just hope I can be as wonderful as my midwives that helped me become a mummy for times over keep doing what your doing mama xxx

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  11. Carol Dunlop

     /  March 18, 2015

    Hi, I am a midwife. Love your blog – it makes me laugh out loud. This particular blog made me feel proud – proud of midwives everywhere, and proud of women for being strong, brave and resilient. Thanks for the positive feedback (nice to hear positive things) and keep up the great work on your journey to be a successful mother of two….. ❤️

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  12. Wow. This is wonderful, and I am learning so much. So glad you’re writing, and you’re writing so well.

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  13. Kathy Johnston

     /  March 18, 2015

    That is so lovely, I feel it is a profession which any mistake gets absolutely sh*t on but rarely gets thanked for the caring work they do every day, it just gets taken for granted.

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    • Yep, I definitely think the system is taken for granted. I really worry sometimes that we will lose such an amazing thing because people just won’t realise how lucky we are.

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  14. Ugh, this made me teary. SO glad you’re writing again. And a solid high five to the midwives!

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