This past weekend I married my best friend, co-adventurer, and one of my biggest supporters both personally and for my professional life.
Most of the time when I write about the difficult stories, patients, and cases that I deal with, I write about them reflectively, and many times days or weeks after the fact. I am able to write so clearly and concretely about these experiences because I have a listening ear, a supporter, and confidant that I discuss many of these cases with long before I ever feel confident enough about my feelings to write about them.
Being the partner of a midwife is probably just as difficult as being a midwife, I think sometimes, and it is not difficult to look around and find the many divorced or separated midwives out there. Divorce or separation is an incredibly legitimate choice for many couples, regardless of profession, but it is not hard to imagine that the stressors of midwifery life put an undue burden on couples. Peggy Vincent, author of Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife, (and one of my favorite books) writes about her marriage:
“The profession of midwifery is tough on marriage and family life…without Rog’s flexibility and versatility I couldn’t have been the kind of midwife I aspired to be”
My now-husband saw me through one of the most difficult and challenging years of my life through midwifery school. He saw me through back to back days of 24-hour calls and always made sure I had an organized bag and tons of snacks. He talked through learning how to stand up for myself more times than either of us could count, and as a result, is a huge part of who I am as a midwife today.
To marry a midwife is not to chose an easy life, but I can guarantee it will never be a boring one. The self-care that all health care providers engage in personally must be expanded out into our relationships, weather they be with our partners, our friends, or our families. These relationships sustain us and the wonderful people in our lives are the biggest reason we can get up again every morning and do the hard and lovely work of being midwives.
So, good people, I raise my glass to all the partners who have called out the door “But don’t forget your stethoscope again!”
Who have lovingly and without comment gotten up at all hours of the night to help a student midwife or midwife get out the door
Who listen without end to all the difficult things that you bring home from clinic and offer hugs, cuddles, and ice cream to help us feel better.
Who reassure you that you actually do know what you’re doing, even if it doesn’t feel like it
Who will laugh with you when you tell them all the awkward things you accidentally do throughout the day
Who know more about vaginal discharge than anyone outside of midwifery probably should, but will ask follow-up questions with interest and listen to every story you have to offer
Who will rail with rage against private insurance companies with you and push you to continue your fight for single-payer health care for all
And lastly, to all those who love us for our passion for midwifery, encourage all of our dreams, assuage our fears, and stand beside us through it all and help us become the midwives we aspire to be.