It began in an enormous hospital suite in 2011. I was a brand spanking new mother, post Caesarian in a bed that didn’t go up and down easily and a baby who I was having trouble breastfeeding. Exhausted after a ridiculously long labour ending in surgery, with day 3 blues and a body that desperately wanted to (and was more than, ahem, able) to feed a baby, yet between us my poor baby and I couldn’t work it out*. I expressed, Mr S syringe-fed our darling Millie, but I wanted this to work.
In walked Terry Stockdale. A short, brusque woman, she did for me what no other midwife did. She told me like it was. Whilst all of my other midwives were so kind and physically gentle, it wasn’t helping me learn to feed a baby. Terry was gloriously different.
‘No, Amy. Hold her like THIS. (arranges baby Millie differently) Put your arm here. I know your scar hurts, but for her to latch you need to do this. (arrange arrange arrange, move pillows, manipulate arm, latches baby perfectly) See?’
Terry would bustle in and out on her night shift, telling me bits and pieces of her homebirthing business, whilst assisting me with feeding and painkillers in her kindly yet awesomely tell-em-like-it-is manner. I credit her with teaching me to breastfeed, and without her assistance I have no doubt that I would not have been able to make it work.
Mr S and I also giggled when we would hear her take crying babies out to the corridor:
‘WAAAH WAAH WAAAH’
I left hospital still feeling wounded, confused and elated all at once from a drawn out painful week, culminating in me becoming a mother and being entrusted with a TINY HUMAN TO TAKE HOME? WHAT?
Fast forward to 20 months later. I am in hospital again, after another Caesarian (scheduled FTW) and one night, in bustles Terry Stockdale. She took one look at me, said ‘Isn’t your back hurting? Hold her like THIS.’ She shoved a pillow left, then right, laid baby Pippa back down and sat on the chair next to me. I was SO delighted to see her and I felt reassured that all would be ok, my baby would feed and I would one day sleep again.** Terry looked after me on her shift that night (she still had her baby whispering SHH superpowers! I heard her outside in the corridor!), and by 5am she looked exhausted. I think there’d been twins born naturally up the corridor that evening and it had been busy for everyone. I offered her chocolates, she made me a cup of tea and we sat in the pre-dawn silence for a few minutes, enjoying Cadbury Roses and I enjoyed her company once more. It’s really quite hard to express how grateful I am that for the briefest of moments I was assisted by this fabulous woman and what a mark she made on me.
Today I learned that Terry is retiring from midwifery. I know that by far I am one of hundreds or thousands that she has brightened the lives of and I hope she has a long, eventful retirement. To have met such a remarkable woman makes me truly grateful for midwives like Terry.
*As I months later discovered, M has/had tongue tie and a flat tongue, which made feeding and taking a bottle extra difficult.
**I am still waiting for that day.