It wasn’t the best time to ask me a question and expect a well thought out answer.
Leaning over a bed in the Jessop Wing, having just staggered down a corridor in the later stages of labour following a Lewis Hamilton-esque rush to the maternity unit, I was in an extreme amount of pain and making noises like a tortured cow. At the same time, I was inwardly planning what I was going to say to my husband about his journey planning. For some unfathomable reason, he’d thought that driving up Collegiate Crescent and over 25 sets of speed bumps – while I was on all fours, fearing this baby would arrive in a battered Ford Fiesta – was a better plan than taking the smooth ring road. I was going to have this out with him as soon as I was capable of speech, I vowed. I was vaguely aware of a midwife saying “there’s no time to examine her, I think she’s almost ready to push”, as I tried to muster the verbal skills required to demand some pain relief, when another kindly voice asked if I minded a student midwife assisting. Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less by that point who was in the room. If, by some hideous bad luck Mr Tumble, Jamie Oliver and Keith Lemon had wandered in and stripped off for a chat about sustainable pollock in the birthing pool, I don’t think I’d have even noticed. So I wasn’t remotely bothered when they told me the student midwife was a bloke (let’s call him R), and he turned out to be a strapping six-footer with full sleeve tattoos, thick-framed glasses and a hipster beard. Not your typical birthing partner, it must be said. In the weeks after my daughter was born, several people expressed surprise I had a male midwife help bring her into the world. But to me, I can’t see why it would have been an issue. I don’t require my physio to have a dodgy knee. So why would I need a midwife to have a uterus? R was brilliant from the minute he came in. He was so kind and encouraging that he just smiled when I barked “Give me drugs, I can’t do this any more”, and responded with: “You are doing this, you’re about to push out the head.” And I was. Just when I couldn’t take any more, it was over. And as the lead midwife (lovely Z – apologies, again, for almost breaking your fingers) handed my daughter to me, it was R who helped my husband cut the cord. He was in and out of the room before we were discharged – checking over my daughter, seeing I was okay, making sure there was hot buttered toast and generally ensuring the process was as seamless as it could be. So thanks, R, and Z. You were amazing. And if R is an example of a “typical” male midwife – if there is one – I, for one, would like to see many more of them.