Monday, November 20, 2006

Midwifery diaries, part 3

This is part 3 of the midwifery diaries. You can read the beginning of this diary entry in part 2.

[Note: All of the names and initials have been changed, and any identifying characteristics have been omitted or modified, to protect everyone's privacy.]

Overall, AK and her husband were really happy. AK felt great about the birth--which made me really happy--especially given how intense she is, but I'm very upset with myself from when I was checking her vagina for tears.

She was really uncomfortable and asked me to stop. I'm so used to women being uncomfortable during that stage, that I kept going for another second just to get it over with--and her husband put his hand up and said really forcefully (and protectively) STOP! I did immediately--and then was completely mortified that I hadn't stopped a second sooner.

One of my main goals as a practitioner is to allow women to feel empowered and in control of their healthcare. I had been so focused on getting it over with that I hadn't listened to what she really needed and had disrespected her because of it. I felt totally totally awful and apologized profusely and then gave her all the time she needed. I was really aware of it afterwards and was trying to be sensitive toward AK's and her husband's interactions towards me. I wanted to ensure that they still felt comfortable--which they seemed to--so I didn't bring it up again.

I did, however, talk about it with Sally later--because it was still really bothering me. She suggested that I apologize when we went for the postpartum visit. I was worried about bringing it up again--and also about making it about my need to be forgiven, versus her need to talk about it. However, when we went, it felt right to say something. So, I said, "I just want to say that I'm sorry that I didn't listen to you completely when you asked to stop. I didn't mean to disrespect you in any way and I should have stopped when you asked me to." Her eyes got a little moist and she thanked me for apologizing and said that she didn't feel any trauma from it--and had actually really appreciated how protective her husband had been of her at that moment. She forgave me.

I was so glad I said something. I'm still angry at myself about it--because it violates everything I believe about women's healthcare. But, I'm definitely using it as a learning experience.

Part 3

The next birth was the next day – and was a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) at the hospital. No real long story from it – except that the baby was 9#12 and she didn't need stitches and she had been sectioned in the past as a prime (first baby) for malpositioned twins--so she essentially VBAC'ed a 9#12 baby as a primip without needing a repair and without any meds. I kept saying afterwards, "YOU'RE A VBAC!" And we would high five and she'd say how psyched she was to add to the statistic of women who had had VBACs. It was a fun, inspiring birth with a very beloved client. A lot of fun.

So, that was my week. Intense and long and tiring--but great and a lot of learning. I also had two days of office visits--and got do to a Spanish visit with a 70 year Peruvian woman. I'm really missing using my languages and working with immigrants and the cross-cultural piece.

Find out what a day in a busy urban hospital is like for a midwife tomorrow . . .

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