Would you know what to say to a woman with four or five, or even ten or more children?
Finding the courage to speak up about something isn’t easy. Today’s post is from Rosie Brown, mum of five, who's expecting number six. She's an aspiring midwife and her open letter to women and midwives is about having a large family and some of the comments she’s received from medical professionals.
'Dear Ladies and Gents,
Would you take a moment to listen? I promise you will be a blessing to others like me.
I'm an aspiring midwife and now I guess I am a 'Grand Multigravida' too.
I've had something on my weighing on my heart for a while and it's been stirred by the opening scenes of One Born Every Minute series 11.
There's a lady expecting her 6th baby and the midwife says something along the lines of "haven't you worked out what's causing it?"
Future and current midwives. We might laugh it off and make a funny come back like we don't care, but do you know how exhausting this is?
Every day, every week when we are out with our children, here is what we encounter, from complete strangers.
"Don't you know what causes that?"
"Don't you own a TV?"
"Aren't you a glutton for punishment."
"Wow, how old are you?"
"Do they all have the same dad ?"
"Don't you know what birth control is?"
"Are you done?'
And then to have your midwife or health care assistant do the same when you are vulnerable can be overwhelming.
We sit on a ward listening to midwives go to other couples with 1 or 2, even 3 kids, and there are sweet and reassuring comments.
And then it's our turn.
For whatever reason, parents with big families don't get reassured.
Last week I was in A&E and a health care assistant was taking me for a test, and do you know how relieved I was when he said "Oh how lovely! Your house must be full of fun! Did you always want a big family?"
Us proud mums will probably answer willingly all the above as we chat about our kids, but this question was the correct one to ask.
Personally, we are Byzantine Catholic and my husband is training to be a priest and yes we did always want a big family, and I'm happy to tell you that. But 'Are you done?'.... that's an immediate judgement and I suddenly feel like as you check my cervix I have to justify my entire life, my religion and my sanity.
Please take a moment when encountering a big family to think about your words.
Just because this is our 6th or 10th baby, doesn't mean we aren't every bit as delighted and excited as if it was our first baby. Whether you agree or not, we come for support. Not to be shamed.
Thank you for listening if you made it this far :)'
I personally don’t believe any midwife will mean to be unkind but in our society, we tend to comment on mothers and their choices. Especially if there’s something unusual about them.
Seeing things from a woman’s point of view amidst busy practice and the rocky terrain of trying to keep humour and connection front and center is hard.
I think Rosie’s post contains valuable insight. Especially about the healthcare assistant with the kind and thoughtful comment, this is a great example of being with woman, understanding what it must be like to lead her life and talking with her accordingly.
As Rosie says, thanks so much for reading this!
And thanks to Rosie for writing it, it's brave and how gorgeous is her family?!
Do you have anything to add – have you cared for a woman with a big family? How did you talk about it? Or are you from a big family, is there anything else we should know?
Leave a comment below.
Much love xx