When I was working in New Zealand I made a midwife friend who’s still on my list of favourite humans.
I neglect her and don’t call enough because life gets in the way but she’s one of the best people I know.
Like most relationships, I remember the start being a little bit awkward. She was more experienced than me clinically and I was pretty intimidated. But I soon realised she was human too and she taught me a lot about good care.
We starting hanging out socially, my partner and I, with her partner and their little girl.
We were all into growing our own food and cooking and we played a lot of music together. We’d turn the volume up in the tiny cottage my partner and I were renting. Her little girl was often in her monster PJs because it was late and we’d run up and down the deck, scaring the New Zealand wildlife away (Myna birds, a rabbit, silly looking purple necked Pukekos).
When her little girl went to bed, we talked about some of our deepest midwifery fears and struggles and successes together while our partners talked about what it was like to be with a midwife (well, that’s what we thought. They might have been talking about cycling and computers and beer, in hindsight. But they were there for each other and that’s what counts).
My then partner and I got introduced to lots of new music through this family, but we all loved the classics like Hall and Oates. There’s one song you might know called Private Eyes.
The lyrics go:
They're watching you
They see your every move
I remember this being on a lot. Midwifery is such a weighty job sometimes that it feels like you’re being scrutinised (by yourself as much as anything) but this kind of song made the whole thing seem hilarious. You need that kind of lightness sometimes. You can’t walk around with the weight of the world on your shoulders.
I just have to listen to the song now and I get a rush of emotion.
It’s these moments that I think we need to see enshrined in formal support for midwives. The research says there is ‘social glue’ that holds together safe midwifery care. We miss this when we get too busy, for instance, 12 hour shifts often stop that overlap that shorter shifts provide, where midwives can catch up with each other. 12 hours shifts make more sense in the short term, but are they false economy? (Crowther et al 2016)
I think these moments with my midwife friend and her daughter in the garden is what it means to be human and connected.
How can we prioritise this as much as all the other factors which make up safe care? Let me know your thoughts.
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Forward this to someone who might 'get it' 🙂