There’s a collective heartbeat on the floor of a labor and delivery unit. It’s a steady beat, a fervent desire, a passion in the heart of every single nurse, every single provider, to see one thing at the end of the day.
To see you walk out our front doors with your baby.
Blessed to be a mom. Blessed to be a dad. Grateful for the gift you’ve been given.
Weeks ago, I heard a simple but resounding statement from a midwife (a midwife who I have CRAZY amounts of respect for) at my hospital.
“My patients, they come into the unit armed for battle.”
This statement, this observation, it hit me like a punch in the stomach.
How have we gotten here?
In their prenatal care these patients are pleasant, excited, nervous to be new parents. They ask questions, take classes, voice concerns. Having a baby is the most prominent and true desire of their hearts, and finally, life has given them that chance.
But somewhere, in between the hours, the months, maybe the years spent dreaming of that baby and the reality of contractions and broken water and the inevitable drive to the hospital, a wall is built.
A birth plan is made, the lines are drawn.
There are parents, there are nurses, there are doctors.
There are interventions, medications, tools, and opinions.
And somewhere in the middle of all that mess a baby’s heart beats strong and true.
Again, I ask myself, “How have we gotten here?”
Why are my mommas feeling like it is “us vs. them?”
And can I change their mind?
When my mommas walk onto the unit, a little part of me sighs when they hand me their birth plan. I admire the love, the hope, the nerves, that went into constructing that packet. I truly do.
As a women, as a nurse, as someone who fervently hopes to be a mother myself someday, I have nothing but respect for a woman taking charge of her life and the life of her child.
But amidst the respect, there is a twinge of frustration. For somehow, that momma has decided that she can’t trust me to work in and for her best interests. That I can’t be trusted to hear her, to see her, to care about her enough to try and give her the experience that she so desperately wants.
Someone, somewhere, hasn’t heard that momma. Someone has convinced her that I won’t listen. Someone else has been hurt, mistreated, misled, and they have shared their story with her. So my momma, my nervous, anxious, excited momma has armed herself for battle.
The wall has been built and for the next 12 hours I struggle to climb over. To convince her that I want the very best for her. That I want her experience to be what she wants.
That if it is safe, I will fight to give her the story she hopes to tell someday.
That midwife and I, we kept talking. She told me about a patient of hers at one of her final prenatal appointments, stressed and anxious because she hadn’t written a birth plan yet.
And the midwife’s response?
“Why do you need one?”
That sweet little momma had no idea how to answer her. A birth plan had become a requirement for her, a way to prove she was a well-prepared parent. Not having one meant she was already failing as a momma.
That lovely midwife suggested to her what I suggest, what I hope, for all my future mommas.
“Why don’t you just wing it? Why don’t you just trust us?”
Talk to them.
Talk to us.
Talk to me.
That day, that unforgettable day, I am privileged to be a part of your experience. I carry the responsibility of that privilege every shift.
Let ME fight for YOU.
Why should you trust us, trust me?
Why should you trust a stranger in the middle of one of your most life-changing experiences?
Because when your heart breaks, ours does too.
When the story doesn’t end the way it is meant to, that collective heart on the unit cracks wide open. We weep in our cars as we drive home. We don’t tell our families because we can’t, because they wouldn’t understand anyway. All of us are left bare, and raw, and aching in places no one ever should.
We made you promises that we couldn’t keep. We failed where we thought we wouldn’t.
We told you it would be okay and it wasn’t.
And it hurts. We hurt for you. We hurt for the dad, the grandma, the sister. We hurt for the cry you won’t hear, the steps you won’t see, the hand you won’t hold. For days, for months, for years, we remember, and we hurt.
But that, that hurt, that’s my whole point.
We’re willing to hurt for you. In asking for your trust, we give you that promise.
Tell us the story you want to tell and let us fight to fill those pages.