Dear L&D Nurse,
I know you don't remember me and I can't imagine how many births you have bore witness to, but in writing this letter, I hope you understand the impact you had on me. I don't know your name and I only have one picture of you. I want to say thank you.
Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for advocating for me. Thank you for the countless hours of hip squeezes and counter pressure you provided. I know there were a million other things you could have been doing. Thank you for putting my hair up and keeping my washcloth cool. Thank you. Thank you for keeping unwanted guests out. Thank you for telling me I was doing great. Had you not been there, I don't want to picture what my first birth experience would have looked like. Here is why I'm thankful...
It was the very early morning of November 23, 2010, 5 am, in Burlington, Vermont. My partner was sleeping and I woke up to terrible cramps. As a first time mom, I was nervous. What first time mom isn't? I went out to our blue recliner chair and rocked with my daughter and our VERY fat Maine Coon cat, Mama. I just talked to my baby and listened to my cat's loud purr. It's like she knew I was in labor and needed to comfort me. After a while, my partner woke up (I asked him to take this picture) and I smiled, "it's baby time! We get to meet our little miss Ayanah Violet soon."
We spent the day relaxing until, I kid you not, baby dropped. She didn't just drop, she dropped. I was a new mom. I thought that my sweet baby was about to fall out of me (little did I know)...Ha! "It's time! We have to go now!"
Well, being first time parents, we had no clue what to do. We were greeted by nurses who really seemed to not enjoy their job. They were terrible. I began to cry. One had the nerve to tell my partner "Just ignore her. It's her hormones!" I was only a few cm dilated and wanted to leave. I was TERRIFIED I would have this group of unsupportive and unempathetic nurses. I'd wait till the 7 pm shift change and pray I had a new nurse.
This is where I want to thank you. It was 7 pm and I was readmitted, this time in active labor. You set me up on the bed, got my IV going, and listened to my fears. You were so gentle, so compassionate, so understanding. You said to me, and I'll never forget it, "You are my only mama in labor. I won't leave your side. I'm here." I INSTANTLY felt calm. I instantly felt empowered. It was incredible.
And you stayed. You sat next to me listening to me ramble in between contractions. You squeezed my hips with every. single. contraction. You held my hair out of my face. You told my OB to stop asking if I wanted an epidural because you knew I didn't want one. You were there for me. I can't recall the exact details (it's so funny to me now) but I remember I was terrified my daughter would have deformed ears. I remember telling you about the dreams I had of my daughter missing ears. You just kept reassuring me. You kept saying "just wait and see!"
You were my calm through the storm that was my room. You were my constant. I didn't know the correct term at the time, but I do now. You were my doula.
When the student OB misinformed me on my dilation, I wanted to give up. I wanted an epidural. I felt so discouraged. I remember you came to my ear and said "are you sure? I will get you one if you want, but I know you can do this without. You got this!" And you know what, your words stayed with me the rest of my labor. "I got this!"
Guess what? I did it and on November 24, 2010, I birthed my baby the way I wanted to! This is the ONLY picture I have of you (I don't want to show your whole face until I get permission). I want to say thank you.
Because of you, I had the birth I wanted. Because of you, I became a doula.
I hope this letter finds you.
With love and light,
PS. I am NOT a writer but I've wanted to write this for quite some time now. I owe so much to this nurse and I wish I knew her name. The impact she had on me is one I didn't realize until much later. I didn't realize it until I began learning about birth trauma and the lasting effects it has on a birthing person and how I avoided birth trauma because of her. I owe so much to her. I hope she's still a nurse. I hope she's still supporting new and growing families. I know she has no clue how much of an impact she has. I hope she finds this.
Thanks for reading! Please be on the lookout for my birth stories! All the nitty gritty details of my three births and how each one impacted me more than the previous.
If you want to share your birth story, please visit my fb page and follow the link on my pinned post. Here is the link!