Updated: Nov 9
By Sylvia P.
I believe finding family voice is a journey. I believe we all have touch points in our lives, things we can point to, something somebody said or an experience we had, hat help us to hear our voice. I don't think finding mine would have been easy had it not been for my OBGYN ‘s statement, made at the front of the room during a Lamaze class, when I was expecting my first child.
“At the end of the day,” she said, “you need to know something: I work for you. You pay me to do a job. If you're not happy with that job, you should say something about it. If you hired somebody to paint your house and they painted it the wrong color, you’d let him know, right?”
Everyone in the room sat there and went “huh…” None of us ever thought that way. Small as it may seem, that moment was a touch point for me, an important shift.
And yet, despite having been given permission to think about the medical system in this way—to think that my voice matters in terms of what the medical service delivery system should look and feel like as a person experiencing it—an additional experience was critical to helping me learn to use my voice. It occurred in the hospital, as I sat beside my young daughter, newly diagnosed with leukemia. A resident came in at 10:00 at night to examine her.
I could hear that little voice of mom inside of me. I was 26 years old, a young mom at that point. I had promised my daughter that no one would poke and prod her anymore that day. The nurse and I said she could go to sleep, she was done for the day after she took all her evening medications.
We all just promised her.
No, I don't want to let you do this. But I felt powerless in the moment. Who was I to say no to this resident, with years of advanced training, standing before me and insisting the exam must happen?
Following the exam, the nurse walked back in the room. I was crying—and I'm a mom who doesn't fall apart. My daughter was crying, and the nurse said, “You don't have to let that happen, you know.”
This was perhaps the key touch point in my journey to finding my own family voice.
She gave me my power back.
In the many years since, I’ve come to appreciate the unique journey we each make as families finding our voice. It doesn’t happen all at once; moments can build upon one another. And each of us, parents and professionals alike, need to be acutely aware that we might be the touch points on someone else’s journey to find family voice. Our words, our interactions, our examples matter.
Have a STORY of YOUR OWN? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear how you used YOUR VOICE to meet your family’s needs.