The Success of the Midwife Vigils

I can't tell you how proud and loved I felt after seeing all the images of the March with Midwives vigils that took place nationally yesterday. I was sadly at work, and once again we were stretched above and above. I finished my shift 3 hours late and travelled all over Nottingham, Derby and Loughborough to cover essential visits. 

I was so sad I couldn't make it to the vigils, but seeing the turnout and the pictures from the day was heart-warming. It was lovely to see not just midwives, but service users: fathers, mothers, babies and children. It was great to see some members of parliaments supporting the cause, but I think it is very obvious to see that the government as a whole is still not seeing the reality. Sure, it was in a few newspapers, and a handful or television news outlets, but not a single word from the Houses of Parliament. 

When I saw the below poem this morning, it couldn't have hit me more honestly. It's written by a midwife to show a midwife. This is the heart-breaking reality of midwifery at the moment. This is the truth of the job. This is the job I've stumbled into at the peak of a pandemic. 

At 5.15 I roll out of bed. I shower and prepare for the long day ahead. I drive to work wondering what lies in store. Then say a quick prayer as I walk through the door.

At 7 o'clock our handover starts. The night staff look broken and long to depart. Shoulders droop as we spy the full board. And hear the details of all on the ward.

I know already this will be a struggle. With obs and drug rounds and feeding to juggle. I check all the charts and write out my list. In the hope that now there'll be nothing that's missed.

I go to each patient to say hello. And discuss how they're feeling from top to toe. By the time I've seen all, my list has doubled. And one woman especially has me troubled.

I prioritise her and call for a review. But the docs are in theatre so she'll be in a queue. I do obs and bloods and make sure she ate. Then I check my list and my meds are all late.

I rush with the trolley and do the drug round. Each one has more questions or issues they've found. I scribble them down and head to my desk. But I'm stopped on my way with another request.

What time will I go home? Can I have a cup of tea? Am I keeping my baby? Can she come home with me?

The Mundane and the heart-breaking in the same hall. I try my best to give everyone my all. But in spite of this, I know it can't be. There's simply too much to be handled by me

I want to sit and comfort the upset mother. One twin is beside her, in scbu is the other. The baby in the room must stay under the light. So she has held neither since the very first night

I want to help a mother and baby to latch. To advise, reassure, position and attach. But it takes so much time and the clock is turning. I hope that the baby is quick at learning.

I want to talk to the mother who has court in an hour. Her baby is being taken and she's still in the shower. I look at the baby and wonder what life will hold. Will she know this mother when she's one year old?

The new parents want help changing a nappy. They are nervous and exhausted and terrified yet happy. I want to sit and advise them and show them how. But say I'm so sorry I'm busy right now

I make it to my desk and sit down with my things. I've just started documenting when the phone rings. It's a patient with a bleed, it's a baby that's lost weight. It's a bed request for a section, it's a staff member that's late.

I'm halfway through writing when the visitors arrive. The doorbell rings constantly from 11 to 5. I go as fast as I can but I feel impatience increase. So instead of my all they all get a piece

A piece of my time, a piece of my care. A piece of compassion, I promise it's there! A piece of advice and my positivity. And by the end of the day there is none left for me

After checking the drugs I handover to nights. Where I justify my decisions and they set me to rights. I face questions to which I have no reply. There's been no time to think let alone to ask why.

I leave at 9.30 and sit in my car. Did I eat today? How did I make it this far? On the drive home the day plays in my head. There's lots that's not done but at least no one's dead!

My early expectations have crashed through the floor. Those midwifery ideals don't exist anymore. I will do my best and I will always try. But they deserve so much more and so do I.