Posted on March 18, 2015
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 to 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.