First, a confession: I had never thought about how much midwives get paid until long after I'd given birth to my daughter. I don't know why, I guess I just blindly assumed a country like New Zealand would be paying them a fair wage.
It wasn't until the Dear David Clark movement took traction that I really found out and, with the memory of my daughter's birth still fresh it my mind (it will never not be), my heart sank a little.
I still feel guilty that I never got around to getting my midwife a gift. Every now and then, nearly two years on, I think of her and how I was meant to go to the store in Kingsland where I'd got my wooden bracelets from, that she'd once complimented. I never got around to it and the bracelets are probably not even sold there anymore. I don't think she needs a "midwife, at your cervix" mug either.
So, instead, I'll join my voice to the voice of others calling for better pay for midwives in New Zealand, in the form of a public thank you to my midwife, without whom my daughter's first moments on Earth could have been a lot less joyous.
So, dear midwife, thank you.
Thank you for telling me, on that first appointment, that there was no such thing as a stupid question. I think of the person I was back then and want to laugh at myself for some of my doubts. You never once laughed. You answered every question, one by one, and through those months of silly interrogations (can I still run? Can I use nail polish? What can't I eat?) and what ifs, you quietly built me up from the insecure (and terrified) pregnant woman into the mother I am today.
Thank you for checking in on my baby while it was still growing and, more importantly, thank you for checking on me. My favourite part of our appointments was definitely the part when we got to hear the baby's heartbeat but the most important part was probably right at the start, when I sat down next to you and, before checking on the baby, you asked how I was doing. You really wanted an answer too, it wasn't just chitchat. Pregnant women often become invisible human vessels to others, we disappear behind our belly.
You always made me feel seen and understood.
Thank you for providing me with such quality of care that I didn't become a sad statistic. It's more likely that most people think. While helping create a life, you simultaneously kept mine safe. I don't know any other professions that can claim to do the same.
Thank you for being the first face my daughter saw when she entered the world (and sorry for yelling at you so much during labour, that stuff really hurts though).
Thank you for explaining all the available options there were out there for me and not pressuring me into choosing any particular one.
Thank you for being such a champion of the "do whatever works for you" parenting style during those home visits after my daughter was here. I had no clue what even worked for me but you made it sound like there was no wrong answer I could give you. At my most fragile, you empowered me, you kept me sane.
Thank you for your focus on my mental health, in each home visit following the birth. You weighed my daughter and did everything you needed to do for her but you also took the time to sit down with me and check how I was doing. It was more than nice, it was essential, to be reminded that I wasn't just mum, I was still me and needed checking up on as well.
After our last home visit, I cried. It felt a little like losing a friend. We'd been through so much together over the last few months, I didn't want to say bye to you. A few months later, after a particularly good night's sleep (there haven't been many...), I sent you an email with photos of the baby - now a toddler - you'd helped bring into the world. You remembered us - another sign that your job is anything but just a job.
I have a beautiful, healthy toddler now and life with her is a dream. This is in no small part thanks to you. So thank you.
Your profession deserves adequate pay and adequate recognition. Before teachers begin educating the next generation, there are midwives out there literally bringing the next generation into the world safely.
Surely that's worth a fair pay?
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