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A Love Letter to my Student Midwife

Siobhan Ridley


Dear (former) Student Midwife,

You may not remember me, but I will never forget you.

We first met in 2012. I'd never grown a human before. I'd never birthed a human before. I'd never trusted my generally dysfunctional body before.

I found my first few midwife appointments intimidating. Not because our community midwives weren't lovely (they so were), but more because I felt under scrutiny in medical environments. And when you see a different midwife every single time, it's hard to feel...a connection. I was in need of a connection. There was so much I didn't know, that I didn't know I didn't know it. Know what I mean? “Any questions?”, an unfamiliar kindly face would say to me. “ I don't think so” I replied - subtext: I mean...actually probably hundreds, thousands in fact. May I just sit here, with you and let the thoughts un-jumble in the fog of unknowing and emerge into comprehensible words, slowly, clumsily, over the course of hours? “OK, see you at the next appointment”.

Then there was you dear student midwife. You arrived at one of our appointments and looked at me with bright enthusiastic eyes. You really LOOKED at me. You greeted me like we were meeting in the pub. Two women, not pregnant lady and keeper of the information. You looked at my husband, you smiled at him and chatted to him. You asked us if we'd be one of your case studies. “Of course!” we said.
You gave us your number so we could text you with any appointments or updates. That made me feel like I would be in your thoughts. I felt held. We texted you when we went for scans and your excitement and eagerness to see photos made my heart swell. These 'small' acts made us feel like you were walking this journey with us. Like we were the only people in the whole world having a baby and we were so special. I felt held. Whenever I saw you at appointments I'd light up and was eager to share with you.

Then finally our birthing day arrived and I was so excited about messaging you. You were the only person (aside from the hospital) whom we told labour had started. We knew you might not make it. We knew you might not be released from lectures or might be elsewhere. “I so hope she's there” I whispered between contractions in the car to the maternity unit. And there you were. With your bright eyes, and your beaming smile and your softness and your friendliness and we were just friends in a pub. And it was lovely. You were mine. My midwife. My familiar face. My continuous carer throughout. You were walking our journey with us and you would be there to the end. I was excited to share our moment with you.

You and your colleague were all that I could ever have hoped for and more. You had heard all our wishes and you stayed with us - sitting, watching, respectfully, patiently, lovingly. I felt held. I went into myself and I connected with my body, because you made me feel safe to do so. Because I trusted you, and believed you trusted me, I allowed myself to trust my birthing process and just work my labour. Sometimes I opened my eyes and looked into the room and I would make eye contact with you, and I would hear your colleague whispering words of gentle awe and I felt held. WE felt held.

In our first moments as parents, you sat with us, watching us in that euphoric bubble for which there are no words. You told me how amazing I had been, how strong I was and I felt incredible. Just before you bid us goodbye, you gave our son his first skin side gift. I shed a tear after you left. You had given us so much and I couldn't find the words to tell you. I couldn't find any words. Words after such a colossal universe shift seemed so...pithy.

You may not remember us, but I will never forget you. And we talk about you sometimes, my son and I. “Mummy, this is my bunny from the lady when I was born. It's a special bunny”, “yes babe, it really is and that lady taught me the power of a woman just 'being' with woman”.

Thank you for choosing us and thank you for being the midwife you were, I hope you have some idea of how much it meant and what a gift you are.