“Ok,” I said, “I’ll do it but only if you say you love me.” As the words came out I found myself worrying – had I misjudged the moment? Was it too soon?
“You know I love you,” came the reply. Thank god I thought, they didn’t think I was being weird and needy.
“Am I your favourite?” I was into this now, and hopefully pitching just the right tone.
“You know it…”
‘Fine…,” I said, resigned to my fate and began to write a note in my google diary. “I can do the night of the 26th.”
“Cheers beautiful,” the maternity administrator replied and the phone call ended shortly. I turned around to see my teenage son scornfully watching me.
“You midwives are mental,” which I thought was a bit rich considering he had chastised me the week before for using the same term, as it was disrespectful to people with mental health disorders. However I may have caused him briefly to panic that I was about to leave his father so thought I could take that on the chin.
Are midwives a bit gratuitously over-touchy and emotional with their colleagues?
Maybe it’s because we often work odd hours, times of the night you would normally only be associating with a lover or old friends. Perhaps those norms leak over into our behaviour. Also midwifery attracts a touchy feely type of person. Most of us are quite tactile. There is one midwife famed for being uncomfortable being hugged. Some of her colleagues have taken this as a challenge and like nothing better than to spring up at her and enclose her in their arms. She’s accustomed herself to these attacks as just part of the job.
The nearly-all female environment allows a leeway in our workplace that would be horribly inappropriate in any other. There was one labour ward co-ordinator who was particularly touchy. As she was a gay woman I slightly questioned her motivation at times but, I’m ashamed to admit, as she was younger and more attractive than me I didn’t really mind. Although one night she featured in an erotic dream of mine and the next time she gave me a hug at work I jumped about a foot in the air. Awkward… after that she backed off.
So far I don’t get the sense that the regulations that are finally, rightfully, filtering into most workplaces have really hit midwifery. Beyond our regular hugging sessions we are, of course, being incredibly intimate with those we care for professionally. It has become a standard for all doctors, whatever gender, to request a chaperone when doing a vaginal examination. Chaperones are protecting the people being examined and the doctor who is worried about allegations. Midwives never have chaperones. It’s just not a thing.
So far I don’t think there have been any big public scandals. I just googled “sexual assault allegations against a midwife” and it came back with zero results (over 5000 if you change the word midwife to doctor BTW). But maybe that’s just complacency… I have a feeling the future may be a bit different.