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Before the writer version of Joni, I was the labor and delivery RN version of Joni. Birth is in my blood. It has been since I was five-years-old, pretending to have twins in my little pink playhouse in the backyard. Birth became an obsession for me. On the first day of nursing school, while the other students were timidly sharing they thought maybe they’d like to work in the ER or pediatrics, I stood up and said I would be a labor and delivery nurse.
There was no deciding for me; I decided when I was five.
So this Facebook post from Baby Rabies hit me hard in the feels:
I expect this would move most mothers to tears (or near tears), but as someone who has been on both sides of the toilet, I can tell you I have never felt more humbled to help and I have never felt more grateful to be helped than I did during the process of childbirth.
To the 14-year-old momma who wanted to breastfeed but was scared, thank you for allowing me the honor of introducing you to one of the most precious relationships you will ever have.
And to Tricia, the RN at my first birth, thank you for telling me that I didn’t need to have a mom who breastfed to be successful at it.
To the momma who fainted when she stood up for the first time after delivery, thank you for letting me be the one to catch you. (Also, I did tell you not to stand up without help, but it's OK. You were understandably distracted.)
And to Theresa, the nurse at my second birth, thank you for holding me up in the shower while I washed away the sweat, the blood, and the tears of welcoming my first son.
To the momma who thought she couldn’t push her baby out, I knew you could. Thank you for believing me when I believed in you.
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And to Jennifer, the nurse at my third birth, remember when I was in transition and I was yelling “I WANT AN EPIDURAL!”? Thanks for calling the anesthesiologist, and when the anesthesiologist didn’t make it, thanks for telling me I could do it.
To the mom whose baby was stuck and came out blue, thanks for trusting me with his life. Resuscitating a baby is a terrifying experience. I’m glad I know how to do it. I'm glad I could do it for your son.
And to my midwife Jackie, who attended my fourth birth, thanks for staying calm when my baby got stuck and came out white. Thanks for knowing how to help her and knowing how to support me as I blew air into her mouth, praying for her life.
I may be a nurse, but I am a mother, too. I may have a unique perspective you don't have, but I share your experiences.
To the mom who wanted a quiet birth in a room full of madness, thank you for letting me be your voice. Thank you for letting me dim the lights for you and send the noise away. You deserved that.
And to Donna, my nurse, and Rita, my midwife at my fifth birth, thank you for giving me the solemn and spiritual birth experience I needed after I lost my option to birth at home.
To you, dear momma, who had to give birth to a baby that would never take a breath, it was my greatest privilege to be with you and your family during that time of immense pain. Thank you for letting me hold you through those tears.
And to the nurse who was there when my lifeless baby girl was pulled from my body, I'm sorry I don’t remember your name. I feel bad about that, but you see, it was the worst day of my life. All I remember about the days and weeks around her death are darkness and tears and blurred visions of a baby I wouldn't get to raise. But I do remember the ice and 7 Up you brought me. I do remember the cool rag you laid on my head. I do remember that when I woke up and asked if it was over, you hugged me and said, “Yes sweetie. It is.”
I am not unlike you.
I may be a nurse, but I am a mother, too. I may have a unique perspective you don't have, but I share your experiences. All of the moments of uncertainty, of fear, of feeling like you've failed — I have felt them, too. When I see you fall, cry, scream, I remember those moments of my own. I love you, because in many ways, I am you.
Birth is pivotal. It has the awesome power of making an ordinary woman feel like a superhero. There is no experience that replicates the feeling of pushing your child from your body and into this world.
My most precious memories are of the births of my own children, and right next to those, the memories of all the mommas and daddies and babies I have witnessed become families.