I have heard it said that along the way in my training it is likely I will see some bad practice, some ways of practising that I won't want to use and hopefully a lot of good practise. So it got me to thinking about putting down in writing what it was about the two midwives that I know, that inspired me so much, so that when I am suffering from a lack of confidence I can look back and read it. Of course it will be hard to convey exactly why they are so inspiring in writing but I shall do my very best. Those that know me and are local to me will know exactly who I am talking about but obviously I need to keep this confidential so I shan't be mentioning their names - I shall call them Jo and Annie for the purpose of this post.
I first met Annie when my eldest daughter was about 5 days old. She visited me at home to perform her heel prick test and she unfortunately had to come back and repeat it when she was 9 days old as she just hadn't bled well enough. I opened the door to her and cried with relief at seeing her. Now I shall talk in more detail about breastfeeding later but on day 9, I was at the end of my tether with breastfeeding. I was sore, my nipples were cracked and bleeding, I was incredibly engorged and I had a baby that wanted to be constantly feeding. Annie helped me to get her latched properly, and encouraged me to attend the breastfeeding support group later on that day. So later on that day I managed, somehow, to get myself out the door and down to the group. I shan't bang on about the group now, as I will cover it in more detail when I talk about breastfeeding, but Annie ran this group so amazingly well. She'd manage to balance supporting women, without ever judging them or pressuring them. She knew when it would help for someone to have a peer supporter provide one on one support and when someone needed more. When Annie ran the group we had a thriving membership, sometimes there weren't enough chairs; yet when government funding was pulled back, it meant she was only able to drop in on the group when she could, and the running of the group fell to the peer supporters themselves. Whilst the peer supporters did a fantastic job, the membership dwindled considerably. It was down to Annie and that group that led me to breastfeed as long as I did, as well as myself of course.
I can't remember when exactly I first met Jo as she'd sometimes come along to the breastfeeding group, though that was more Annie's domain, or whether or not it was at the Baby Massage class that she ran. Jo has a wealth of knowledge on many many subjects not just midwifery related and I believe she has recently completed her Masters.
Together Jo and Annie ran the antenatal group/drop in. They were much like the antenatal classes run by the hospitals in some ways but far far better. They would cover all the usual topics you'd expect at, such as pain relief, positions in labour, instrumental deliveries, episiotomies etc. However what made this group so fantastic is that there was no limit on how often you attended. When I fell pregnant with my second daughter, I attended early on following some bleeding I had and then more regularly from around 28 weeks. It meant that you got to know the others that attended, some would be further along than you, and some would be earlier in pregnancy. When I attended the hospital classes when I was pregnant with my first daughter, we had one of those awkward get to know each other games and everyone was uncomfortable. At drop-in, as I shall call it, we did always introduce ourselves and although it was always a little bit uncomfortable, it got it over and done with, not to mention once you'd been a few times you found it easy. It also gave you a chance to say what had been going on with you that week, to raise something that might be worrying you, to moan about work or relatives. And it always felt like someone else had been through the same or was currently experiencing the same and that made for a very reassuring environment. So Annie and Jo provided this opportunity to access the information we needed, time to speak to a midwife but also time to speak with our peers. Separately they are both brilliant but together they are the best!
When I fell pregnant with my second daughter it was only natural to me to book with Annie. I saw her every week at the breastfeeding group and I felt so comfortable with her. Throughout my pregnancy I saw either Annie or Jo and got to know them both so much more. They gave me the confidence and the information to choose a home water birth. It was the ultimate joy when it was Annie and Jo that were present for the birth of my 2nd born. My first daughter was delivered by the midwives, my second daughter was delivered by me. Annie and Jo helped that to happen and in the case of a normal birth, this is how it should happen. The best part of this is, it's not only me they have this effect on. Amongst my friends, I can see how many they have empowered in their births....whether they were home births, Cesarean sections, instrumental deliveries or inductions....Annie and Jo inspired them all.
If I can be half as good a midwife as either of them, I shall be proud. I feel honoured to have known them, and words can't describe how I lucky I feel to have had them at the birth of my second daughter.