Dear Midwife

Dear Doctor, Midwife, Mother, Sister, Husband, Childbirth Care Provider,
These letters are a compilation of letters that have been shared with me from some of my clients' journals. I ask many of the women I work with to start writing... forgiveness letters, truth letters, anger letters, secret letters... healing letters that allow them to be honest about what they are holding in their hearts.

Some of these letters make it into the hands of their intended recipients... sometimes not... 

Dear Midwife,
I hope you don't mind me asking that you take just a moment to read this letter. I wasn't going to write to you, but I was encouraged to do so, so here you are.

I, first, wanted to thank you for helping to bring my beautiful little boy into the world. He has been here for 8 months already and he continues to surprise me with what a little person he is. He is so wonderful! He brings joy to my life at every moment I look at him. For that I will be forever grateful.

But this letter isn't about that, it is about my birth.

I hope you can look at all of this through my eyes, because I am not trying to second-guess you or offend you in any way. I am sharing this with you, hoping that you will take it all in and see if my point of view might help you to reconsider your practices in a new light.

When you came in to my home, during my labor, you told me we had to find out my 'baseline' for how the night would progress. This meant baby heart checks, a cervix check, and blood pressure. I knew this was part of it, but I didn't expect how you went about it.

Paper rustling, texting your husband and daughter, answering a call from another woman who had an appointment later that day... all right in the room with me. Sure, you left my lights off and my candles lit, but that is the only sense of peace I got from you.

You sent my husband to get me some water when he couldn't tell you the last time I had drank something. Again, I get why you sent him to do that, but why did he have to leave me right when you were going to check my cervix? I wanted him with me, but I didn't know how to tell you that.

When you checked me, you were rough. I understand that you need that information, but when I told you I needed you to stop, you only squeezed my knee and said 'just a little longer' and pushed your fingers up in my harder.

We talked so much about our relationship, but, in the heat of labor, you threw my trust and our mutual respect right out the window for a cervix check.

And then, after you were done, you patted my knee and said I was 'only a 3, we have a long day ahead of us'. Then you sighed, pulled out your chart, wrote something, and said you had to make a phone call, leaving me lying on my couch and feeling deflated.

I was so proud of all the work I had done before we called you, I felt proud of my labor pattern and certain of the time we said we were ready to have you come be with us. And now I felt disfunctional, unproductive, and guilty for calling you too soon.

Thankfully, my labor started to get earnest again when you left for lunch. When you came back afterward, I declined your request for another check. You got this pained look on your face like I had offended you, but I couldn't let it happen again and didn't have the time to tell you why I was saying no.

So, there is my explanation. I'm sorry I offended you and talked to you sharply, but I had been hurt by you physically and emotionally - and that was where I was coming from.

When I started pushing, I was really comfortable in the position I was in. But you told me to get up on hands and knees. I said I would rather not because I was comfortable where I was and you said 'you don't want to birth like women in the hospital do, let's get you up!'.

I felt chastised and insignificant. On the one hand, I was comfortable where I was, but you were right, on the other hand, I was not in the hospital. I was second guessing myself... so I let you grab my leg and arm and hoist me up on to my hands and knees.

I didn't like it though, I couldn't see my baby be born. I said I wanted to see, and you sent my husband to get the mirror. He couldn't get it positioned right, though, and even though I kept telling you both that, he couldn't get it right and you couldn't be bothered to help him.

I missed seeing the birth of my baby because I was on all fours.

When he was born, I wanted to just look at him. He wanted to look at me... but you grabbed a hat and shoved it down over his eyes, grabbed my breast, and immediately started aggressively trying to shove it into his mouth.

He wasn't interested and I told you that I didn't think he was. You said he was, and I had missed his earlier cue of his tongue sticking out. We 'worked on breastfeeding' until my placenta came out, and then 'worked on it' some more. He didn't end up nursing for an hour and a half after birth. I could have been spending that time loving on him and admiring him instead of working on forcing him to eat.

So, in a recap, by the end of my labor, I felt guilted for standing up for my own needs, second guessed my own intuition, regretted giving up my power to you, missed the birth of my own child, felt like my body and my knowledge were inadequate, and then was told that I didn't know my own child's needs more than another woman did.

I felt like a failure.

I love the fact I had a home birth and a midwife, considering how much more I would have regretted and been hurt had I been in the hospital. But it doesn't change that I was still hurt and have regrets.

Don't worry, you haven't lost a client, in fact, the closing of this letter is to let you know that we are pregnant again. And yes, we want you to be our midwife again. But, this time I have certain requests.

I want you to know I will be doing my own cervix checks, I would like you to teach me how to do it. I want to catch my own baby. This means I can't be on all fours. I will probably squat or be on my side, but I might also like to be in the position I was before and that is ok with me, please respect that.

In labor, I don't want Jon to leave me. We made this baby and it is his experience as much as mine. If I need water, we go together or you can get it. If I need nourishment, we go together or you can get it. And finally, when this baby is born, let us breastfeed without time limits, please. When this baby shows interest, even if I miss the first cues, let us figure it out. If I need help, I know you are very knowledgeable and I know I can ask for it.

Thank you so much for having an open heart and mind. Thank you for not being offended. Thank you for being my midwife and someone I respect and love enough that I feel I can be honest with about my feelings.

Your friend,
Homebirth mom


Monica said...

Wow. This is a courageous letter. Imagine if we all did this . . . . expressed our desires, opinions and feelings with grace and strengths and openness to a continued relationship. Amazing.

Rachael Heiner said...

I'm really enjoying these letters that you've been posting. Parts of them make me so sad, but this stuff cna be so healing.


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