A white midwife’s letter to tonight’s Black baby
Dear new baby,
Today will be your birthday. Our city, our country, and the world are grieving the murder of George Floyd and too many others gone too soon. Your new life would be a different kind of hard if you were born an ocean away. Your life would look different if you were born on the southern end of the Mississippi River. But here you are, on your way tonight to be born into the land of the Dakota and Ojibwe.
Outside the walls of this hospital masses have gathered. Masses of broken hearts, raised hands and marching feet have taken to the streets. They brave a pandemic to face the more established and more deadly force of racism. They are marching for George Floyd. And they are marching for you.
Today will be your birthday and I wish I could give you so many gifts. I wish I could promise that a few years from now you’ll have a safe school and a motivated, well-supported teacher who sees your potential and guides you in a journey of learning. I wish I could promise you that as you come of age, your neighbors will see you for who you are, and not see you as a threat because of how you look. I wish I could promise you that when you call 911 because you need help, that help is what you’ll get. These, and so many other things, I cannot promise you.
But today, on your birthday, within the four walls of this birth room, I can promise you these things. I promise to listen to your mother. I promise to include your father. I promise to treat your parents with respect. I promise to use everything in my brain, and heart, and hands to keep you and your family safe. And as your mother births you into my hands, I will silently welcome you to this air-breathing world as you listen to your parents’ familiar voices. And I will leave you in the safety and warmth of your mother’s chest.
And when I wake up tomorrow I will use my voice and my vote so that you may indeed have a safe school for kindergarten, a safe city in which to come of age, and first responders who put you first. Because although I cannot promise these results, I can try. I can do better than I have done. I have work to do from now until forever. And that is a promise I can keep.
You and I may never meet again. But we might. Maybe a generation from now, when all my hair is gray, you’ll be in labor and will give birth to your own baby. And maybe when that day comes, you’ll return to this city center, to the place of your birth. And maybe I’ll still be here. My hope and my job in the coming years is that when that day comes, this is a place you feel welcome. Because we will have torn down these four walls and rebuilt them by your design. When that day comes, at the place of your own birth, may you indeed feel at home.
About the author
Emily Fitzgerald has been practicing as a nurse-midwife since 2015. She earned her Master’s degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago, which is her hometown. Emily has been seeing patients at East Lake Clinic and the downtown campus at Hennepin Healthcare since 2017. Emily believes that access to decent and respectful health care for all is a hallmark of a fair and just society. Special practice interests include queer health and reproductive justice. Emily is the chair of the Committee for Equity and Justice of the Minnesota Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.