I remember an episode of "Real Sex" when they showed a woman teaching partners (mostly men) how to help their women get into corsets. It was extremely erotic and I loved watching as the women, naked, slipped into the loosed satin and silk fabric with the laces dangling. While I could see there was a pattern there somewhere, the rhythm of the string was such that it wasn't entirely structured - sort of hunched over each other and unruly.
Some of the women on the segment were showbiz gorgeous with flaming red lipstick, high taut breasts and tight behinds. Others, though, looked more like me and I relished that they really made corsets that fit women my size (I was much bigger then). I loved seeing the squishy thighs and the overflowing boobs and the thick waists melting into piles of hip-flesh, all being slid into the fabric of sex and seduction. It was delicious!
The instructor asked the women to stand and hold onto something firmly as their partners stood behind them slowly untangling the laces. Some women had white laces while others had black. Some corsets were a slutty red with black lace trim and others a dainty pink with rosebuds decorating the decolletage. I loved the deep purples with sequins and bugle beads; I could imagine myself with peacock make-up to match. I chuckled seeing how many virgin white corsets were in that room.
The leather corsets caught my attention most of all, however. The smell of leather resides in my mind always and I squinted so I could place myself in that woman's body, imagining the feel of sweat as I was smooshed into the corset in the first place, much less anticipating the cinching that was about to take place. Leather straps replaced laces, straps that wouldn't loosen nearly as easily as cotton strings. A leather corset said so much more than just, "I'm gonna be sexy tonight." It also says, "I'm gonna be naughty tonight," too.
The partners were instructed to begin pulling the corset ties, from the bottom, then the top, all working towards the waist, working, working to make the waist smaller and smaller. Some of the partners timidly plucked at the strings until the teacher wandered by and showed the young men how to pull those laces with a hefty yank. The women groaned sensuously as they clung to the four-poster bed or the column in the center of the room. Other partners weren't shy about tightening those laces at all and everyone smiled as they seemed to deftly run their fingers up and down the maze of ever-tightening lace behind the women's backs.
Before long, women stood tall with their corsets closed, breasts aloft, hips floating outward and waists several inches smaller than when they'd walked into the room two hours earlier. What delicious foreplay was that, eh?
As a midwife, I have prided myself on my laxity and my easy-going-ness. I don't require a lot of things - don't like or need to do vaginal exams (unless they are necessary), don't require a lot of testing, stuff like that. But, in watching myself as a midwife over the past couple of years, I also see places where I could use some corsetry. I am now beginning to be laced up.
My apprentice and I are re-doing all the files, making them easier to fetch for us. They were set up for someone who was three receptionists ago and made zero sense to us, so we've been on the floor and re-doing it all.
The main part we did was put the drawer that holds the chart guts in order so that it's easier to make charts and find something if you need it. The system there was before was amazingly harsh, so we are happy happy to now know where things go in the chart and if we choose to move things around, all we need to do is lift the file and move it in the drawer and it shall be done when we make charts, too.
We also worked some on the PRN files (as needed). I want to utilize those a lot more. Those are the files that hold extra information regarding things like herpes or grandparents supporting breastfeeding... stuff like that. I have about 80 million different things I want to write to put in the PRN section, but don't think that's going to happen as soon as I'd like it to. Maybe trying to do one or two things a month? (I'm still trying to get those Standards written!)
On our Checklist that is at the front of the chart, the weeks of pregnancy is at the end of the line. I want that at the front of the line instead. I don't like missing when I should be discussing GTT ahead of time or when GBS testing is coming up and I haven't talked about it yet. Sadly, I have missed a couple of things because I have been too lax - I was late offering a GBS test to a client (by a week) and did that with a GTT, too. Neither woman wanted the tests, but still.
So, my apprentice and I are moving the number of weeks that the tests are to be done to the front of the line and then what we are going to do or the test's name... like this:
___ 24 weeks - discuss upcoming GTT
___ 28 weeks - GTT - done/refused
I've been really lax about things like the prenatal panel at the beginning of pregnancy and the late pregnancy CBC, too. I can't even tell you why. I've decided not to do that anymore. They are now requirements to work with me. CBC with Differential and Platelets by 34 weeks. Yes, I know they can change, but I want some sort of something to go by.
Because of experiences with Paps during pregnancy, I am very, very skittish about doing them, so forego them for the most part. Because I am not all up in a woman's coochie, I also don't do a Chlamydia and Gonorrhea culture. As I read this, I am baffled at my own stupidity. Rarely does a woman choose to put erythromycin in her baby's eyes; it's a damn good thing none of them has gone blind, isn't it. No more laxity. The laces are being cinched here, too. (I have worried all night about this issue, so came in at 4am to go through charts and see if I was really as neglectful as I thought I was. Apparently not. All but one client had previous care with someone else and came to me with their labs. The other person refused the Pap/GC/Chlamydia - I did offer it at the first prenatal. Is my self-deprecation showing?)
It's so crazy. It's not like I don't know how to do any of this stuff. I have done hundreds and hundreds of exams. It isn't difficult. It doesn't embarrass me. It's not hard to teach my apprentice. It's not inconvenient.
But, I think I know what at least part of what it is. I am trying to be so respectful of women's space, I just don't even go into it - at the risk of not doing the things they are hiring me for!
As I discuss what kind of corset to buy for my practice, I worry about what the clients will say. What if they get mad at me? What if they think I am too hands-on? Too pushy? Too technical? I own an holistic healthcare office, for goodness sake, why do I require blood work? What if they don't choose me? Or worse, leave me after they have already chosen me? What about the other hands-off midwives... what are they going to say about me? That I don't trust birth anymore? That I let a few births scare me into Technocratic Birth and why don't I just go be a Medwife now?
Conversely, why haven't I worried about what the majority of midwives would think? "You nut! Why aren't you drawing blood/doing an exam/taking a culture/asking for her compliance?"
The last months' births, including the zippity doo dah birth in the bathtub (of which I have barely spoken of since) have dramatically changed me. I struggle with believing in myself. I have GOT to stop second guessing myself. My client that had the cesarean a few days ago had a doctor come in and do a vaginal exam and proclaim within a few moments' time: That baby can't come out that way. Why can't I be so sure of myself? Why do I have to have second opinions when I know damn well what I am doing/thinking/feeling? When will I grow up and stop asking someone to validate me?
Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the New Year for us Jews. I didn't go to Temple which must be some serious Jewish going to hell thing I'm sure. Instead, I was lacing my corset here at work.
My apprentice, the wonderful, beautiful thing that she is, helped me so much when we were talking about "tightening up" the practice's protocols. I sighed saying how I just hated the thought of making it all seem so structured and immobile - and then saw the picture of the corset, so beautiful and satiny and glittery and loved it! Then, as I was waxing poetic about the corset imagery and that kind of tightening up the standards of care, she tosses in, "and yet, you can still breathe." I blinked and looked at her. She was right! I could have tight, tight, tight and then move around where I needed to - the women were the ones that could tell me what they wanted. We could make them as tight as we wanted to, with bones even, yet the women would control how tight the actual lacing was strung.
Don't want a Pap? No problem! No GTT? No problem! My job is to offer. Discuss and offer. Not ignore. Not be flip. But to be present and presume they will want it unless otherwise instructed. (That doesn't mean "undress, today is your GBS test" kind of thing, either. It means to believe they will want to remain healthy and whole and to discuss the entirety of a test or screen or make sure they research it for themselves.)
Again, the two requirements will remain the Prenatal Panel (1st blood panel, not with HIV) and the CBC with Diff and Plats by 34 weeks. The rest we can work with.
So, my lacings are a tad uncoordinated, but, what do you think? Can you see me squished into my leather corset with my hips spilling out the undercarriage? Can you see me adjusting the tightness of the bodice? Can you see how uncomfortable some people are seeing me in the corset and how they walk away with their eyes averted? Do you see how some people love the thing and come closer, wanting to touch?
I can't be The Midwife for everyone. I have to be The Midwife I Am. As this New Year begins, let me begin again at being who I am. All tied up in a pretty leather bow.
(Students, it must be bizarre to read that a practicing midwife still struggles with such issues. Believe me, it is embarrassing as hell! But, my apprentice and assistant encouraged me to share and said it was okay to, said it wasn't shameful to acknowledge my human-ness and my desire to shift my practice because of experiences. If I weren't changing, then it would be shameful. They also told me if I were dangerous, they wouldn't be attending births with me, so that made me feel less horrible. Isn't it amazing how much one can learn from one's students? Ha! Who is the student anyway?)