The role of the partner
The adult in this story is usually the partner, a word I use to mean- ‘the member of the parenting team who did not give birth’. It is situations like the first nappy change which left me believing that partners were a drain on my already overstretched time. Even experienced adults can be taken aback by a newborn; as for first timers, all the parenting classes and baby doll changes in the world wont stop the nerves when facing the real deal. I confess I often thought to myself: ‘partners try to help, but they just get in the way’.
When there is no one there holding the baby
Generally we had good staffing (back when we had not yet become exhausted from a never ending pandemic and home schooling) yet despite this the workload felt heavier than ever. When I thought about it, I realised I was spending a lot more time than usual helping care for the babies. It seems obvious to me now. The partners had been saving me a huge amount of time all along. I remembered how partners would spend a lot of time on the ward simply sitting holding their baby while the mother got some rest, ate or had a shower. All those times I walked passed a partner holding their sleeping baby for hours while the mother also slept, and I thought ‘how lovely they are having a cuddle’. Now I know what happens when there is no one there holding the baby. Let me give you a clue, it’s rarely a baby sleeping peacefully in their cot. I did not see how much they were contributing until they were gone. Maybe I never would have seen it. A letter of apology has been forming in my mind:
To the person who has been quietly holding the baby for hours while the mother rests.
You are invaluable. For years I have not appreciated you and I am so sorry.
I promise I will never make that mistake again.
A humbled Midwife
Now I know how hard it is to get everyone showered when there is no one to watch the baby. Sensing my divided attention the mothers often choose to wait until their partner is there. Most days I am counting down until one o’clock just as much as they are.
I’m sure this is one of many important lessons that has come from the pandemic. There is one lesson the Government are ignoring. I can’t help but draw a comparison between the way I did not appreciated the partners and how the government do no appreciate their NHS workers. I include myself in one of the many NHS workers who have felt less appreciated by the government than ever in the last year. Will our contribution be invisible to them until we are gone?
To the people quietly holding the power while the NHS never rests:
We are Invaluable. For years you have not appreciated us and you are not even sorry.
You make that mistake over and over again.
An under appreciated NHS Midwife