Thank you for guiding me through a strange and at times hostile land. I don’t know if that is part of a community midwife’s official job description, but that’s what it felt like to me, a man and queer person entering the antenatal care system. Being pregnant for the first time is daunting for anyone. Being pregnant for the first time and trans male was terrifying. We were both stepping into the unknown but you never made that – made me – feel like a problem.
You suggested coming to my home for our first appointment and this became a routine I never had to justify. You hadn’t cared for an expectant dad before – at least, not a pregnant one. It could have been very different. It could have been harsh and alienating. Thank you for seeing me as an individual, for your care and common sense, for making no fuss and no fanfare.
After asking me to think about where I’d like to give birth, you helped me to write a detailed hospital birth plan. I found it reassuring and so did the hospital midwives. As well as being informative, it set gentle boundaries that put everyone at ease. You connected me with a lactation consultant without making any assumptions about how I planned to feed my newborn. You called ahead to clinics when I was due a scan, so I benefited from your care even when you could not be there. You used accurate and clear language that was neither gendered nor newfangled.
There were pee-sticks, pressure cuffs and pink, one-size-fits-all forms, for which you unfussily apologised exactly the right amount. Whenever I felt erased by the system, I felt doubly, fiercely seen by the person guiding me through it. There were cups of tea and small talk.
We almost never discussed the stuff that made me different. Not because it was awkward, but because it was rarely relevant. You undertook minor accommodations as part of caring for me. Mostly, you just cared. It was simple. No, you made it simple.
Our shared hometown has a motto: adjuvate advenas. Befriend the stranger. Thank you for befriending and welcoming me, an undoubted stranger, into your antenatal and perinatal world. For understanding my differences and not using them as an excuse to treat me differently. Thank you for a caring experience that still makes me want to sing from the rooftops almost two years later, in part to celebrate our NHS, but also to deliver a message of hope for those who might be worried about welcoming someone like me in the way you did. To them I say, you needn’t hesitate. You aren’t required to reinvent the wheel, you’re just required to care.
Thank you, for doing something ordinary, extraordinarily.