Dear Childbirth Care Provider

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 Care Provider,
I hope you take the time to read this. I really do. I hope you prove me and every other woman wrong who believes you might think yourself just a little too busy to take the time out to listen to the concerns of one. lone. pregnant. woman.

But the thing is, I'm not alone. My words are echoed in the stories and recounts I hear from many, many women who have been pregnant. This letter might be sent from just one woman, but I echo the sentiments of many.

I don't think that you are mean, I don't think that you are a bad person. I don't think that you are stupid or even that you really have it out for us. I am trying my hardest not to make generalities, but know I come from a place of deep hurt.

Just as you are (enter first name) (enter last name), I am an individual as well. Just as you have hobbies, passions, things that keep you up at night, make you feel deeply, and love strongly, so do I.

I might be a file number in your office, but I am a person, autonomous and individual. It doesn't matter how much money I make, how many months I have been breathing, or how many humans I have birthed. It doesn't matter if the sperm donor is my close companion or a distant memory. It doesn't matter my color, my heritage, my body modifications, or my education level - I deserve to not have assumptions made about me. 

If you want to know something, ask me, not my chart.  And don't assume that I really want your opinion or recommendation. Offering is fine, but I am not a child, you are not my parent, you are not my spiritual adviser, and you are not my employer.

Please realize, I am a woman. A strong, competent, resourceful, educated, inquisitive, evolving woman. I am working at, not only growing a baby, but becoming a capable, confident, and competent parent. So please don't treat me like an inferior.

Now, before you get angry, remember: I sought your services out. I hired you. Which means that I saw or heard something that made me come to you out of an interest in having you at the most important moment of my current life: the birth of my baby. And if I didn't see or hear something, and I am seeing you out of necessity, it doesn't negate that I still deserve to be treated with deference and respect because I still did hire you.

I understand that you have spent countless hours pouring over medical texts, seen countless births and situations that have shaped your bias, and may have even seen enough birth that you have lost sight of the reason you first became a childbirth care provider.

But you invested your heart and soul into this business for some reason - that early spark and passion, the one that made you commit many years of your life to this study... but that is what I had hoped to have hired. I want the provider with that fresh passion and love for women and babies.. not a jaded, biased, arrogant, overworked, and exhausted professional that sees me as a patient and a paycheck.

You might think I am annoying with all of my questions, requests, or desires. You might see me as naive, incapable, or even foolish. But, like I said before, I am not only making a human, I am making a mother - a mother who wants to know, learn, be respected, and be engaged.

And I want a provider with heart. You might say 'you didn't hire me to care, you hired me to deliver a healthy baby'. No, I hired a person who, at one time, did care.

I want a care provider who will respect me, so that I can respect you. I want someone who will listen with an open heart and open eyes, seeing me as a fresh and new person with fresh and new ideas.. no matter how many times you have seen and heard this same thing before.

I want a care provider who will concede that their way is not the only way... even if you don't agree with me on my choices, that you will earnestly respect them and adhere to them.

I want a care provider who will give me facts, not opinions and exaggerations. If you don't like my sources, provide your own. If you don't like my books, actually read them before you can base an opinion on them. Don't try to coerce me or manipulate me into agreeing on a course of care or treatment, if I wanted a salesman, I would have gone to a used car lot.

I want a care provider who wants an educated client. I want you to encourage me, not discourage me, to read and learn, watch and see, study and ask questions! This is my body and my baby - I have to live with the consequences of my choices, so let them be my choices.

You're right, you know pregnancy and birth, but you don't know my pregnancy and birth. You are an expert in anatomy and physiology, but, unless you take the time to get to know me, you don't know my anatomy or physiology. You have seen many things that I haven't, but you haven't seen my birth.

Be open to the wonder, to the first time, the only time, of this, my birth event that we are looking forward to right now. Not Sally, who had a cesarean, or Kirsten who needed that epidural, or Jenny who pushed on her back - me and my story.

And, in return, I promise to remember that you do have extensive knowledge and skills that I might be in need of, I promise to remember that you are an individual human, maybe with a family, who has demands and emotional situations and circumstances outside of this office.
I promise to really take your suggestions to heart and weigh them with my personal beliefs and present situation.
I promise to give you the respect that you deserve as a partner in my healthcare and to consider your opinions and suggestions along the way. 

Your thousandth primapara, 
First Time Mom
Update: this mom ended up becoming a childbirth educator and is now training to become a doula. She has more children. She still births in a hospital, with an OB. And yes, she did share this letter with him. He regularly shares it with his colleagues and peers. 

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