When a midwife accepts an invitation there should be a special place to mark “cannot attend,” “attend” (not on call) or “maybe attend” (on call). Chummy misses her date to meet Peter’s mother to be the midwife to a pig. While I have never had that experience, I have missed my share of dates, school events and family functions because a patient needed me. If you ask my husband, children or family they would tell you plans made with the midwife are subject to change or delays.
My current position is almost no call, but there the special times when I choose stay or go in special. It seems counterintuitive, but I find being on call harder as my children reached school than when they were babies themselves. Maybe it is just my reluctance to miss the small triumphs of growing up: a choir concert, a starting position on the team, the first dive competition. There are times that I feel split down the middle – needing to get home, but wanting to stay and see the baby that you and the mother-to- be have worked so hard to help.
Another great struggle for midwives is to learn not to judge people. Jenny Lee faces this when helping Frank and his sister Peggy. She is impressed by their love when she thinks it is a deep bond between siblings. She is judgmental when she realizes they live as husband and wife. As their story is revealed, Jenny seems to come to an understanding, if not an acceptance. Every midwife I know, myself included, have cared for women and families who make choices we do not like. But patients aren’t looking for our approval they are looking for our care, skill and compassion. As their nurse midwife I can help them through their labor.
A very wise nurse midwife I worked with told me that every little bit of caring helps. So I stay a little longer, try to reach someone and help and then hurry home to my accepting family.