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Pondering and Moving Forward

It is the way of the end of the year to look back and then the New Year to look forward, at least so with me.

I've been thinking about births this year - 2006 - and vow to regret things for the last time. Even births from 2005 and before then. No more sadness about "bad" births. I will take what I learned and smear it all over my heart and brain and I will embrace it and sit in it and love it and learn to see the lessons as the most glorious and positive experiences possible.

- Did I let my VBAC mama that pushed for 6 hours before transferring to the hospital push for too long? Should we have gone 4 hours sooner? Or did waiting until that moment offer the right circumstances that opened it up for the OR to not be available and she be "forced" into a vaginal delivery whether she wanted it or not? I still fret over whether I made the right decisions in that birth. Was I crazed that we stayed home so long? She wasn't actively pushing that long, but she was pushing. Didn't I suspect some problem? (Yes.) Did I think it would resolve at home? (Yes.) Did I wish I had another midwife to bounce ideas off of? (Yes!) Am I really glad the outcome turned out the way it did? You betcha. Could it have turned out nightmarish? You betcha.

- Should I have been more firm with the client who was laboring at my house? Could she have labored longer there? She ended up laboring another 20+ hours in the hospital with one shot of a sedative, but nothing more. She could have done without that at home. Was I not strong enough for her? Was it because her baby was so ill once he was out that she had to be there? Was he ill because she was in labor so long? Was all the transferring from home to birth center to hospital enough to cause all the distress? What could I have done to change any of that? I am still proud they let me catch that baby in the hospital, though. Supremely proud.

- Should I be more harsh with diet counseling? Why do I have so many babies that are 10.5 pounds and bigger that are shoulder dystocias? It isn't only positioning, either. It isn't fear. It isn't my anticipation of it. It isn't my expectation of it. It isn't my expertise in it. Why do women lie on their diet sheets? What do I do that fosters the ease with women telling me untruths about what they eat? Are my expectations unrealistic? Do I need to change my expectations? My guidelines?

- I could kick myself in the ass from here to eternity for ever telling a woman I will never leave her in labor. I can't believe I ever said that. I can't believe I said I would be a sort of "surrogate mother" for her and that she could count on me. The Universe spanked me HARD by taking me from that woman at the very moment she needed me most - during a transfer to the hospital - and our midwife-client relationship continues it's rocky healing process. I will never tell a woman I will never leave her in labor again. I will say, "I will do my best to never leave you in labor and do my best to never leave you alone in labor."

- I am angry at myself for not sleeping when I needed to at any of the births when I needed to. I will, from here on out, sleep when I need to and the apprentice, assistant and I will sleep in shifts until we are all needed. (Actually, the apprentice is about to become The Assistant, so it will be she and I trading shifts.) I know that I need sleep to not be ill (on many levels) and it only takes an hour or two to restore my balance for awhile and to not do that for myself is just wrong. I will discuss this issue with ALL clients prenatally now: The midwife and her assistant will be sleeping at your birth unless they walk in and you are delivering that very moment. (Excuse-making now) After working years in birth centers, we stayed up because it was shift-work. This isn't, though, but it seems normal to me to stay "with woman" for much of the labor, or even when away from her physically, tuned into her from other parts of the house when I should be sleeping. I don't know... do I think I'm going to miss something? Afraid they will think, "What the hell am I paying this woman for? To sleep?" (That is a HUGE thought, actually.) It's even hard to not be the doula because of that last issue. "What does she even do for her money?" I have to tell people (a LOT) - I am paid for my potential. I read UC boards and want to scream that sometimes because they say things about the midwife doing nothing anyway and why have her there, blah blah blah. Well, I am there to do nothing UNLESS something goes wrong. So, if nothing is going wrong, shouldn't I be sleeping so if something does go wrong I am alert and ready for it? I struggle with this, but vow to quit it after the New Year. I promise.

- I am so angry at myself that when someone came into the office threatening myself and my apprentice I didn't call the Police. He intimidated me so thoroughly, he had me on my knees (figuritively) cowering to his escalating threats to tear my business apart (it was about an insurance issue that had already been tended to and was in the mail, but he didn't care to hear about that). I had reverted to the little abused girl I once was and had to role play with my former Deputy Sheriff partner how to attend to assholes like that should they come in and do that ever again. I feel prepared now. Even if I feel scared. I will act brave and BIG and STRONG and use the HUGE VOICE that I own and CALL THE POLICE even if they say the Police will laugh at me. They won't.

- When I am in a hospital that is neglecting a client of mine, I will be much more aggressively demanding of what my client needs instead of allowing her to be neglected. I will not be shell-shocked and immobilized by the neglect. I will be activated by it. I am so angry I did't act on my client's behalf in the moment. All the lawsuit she thought was going to happen hasn't come to fruition (but investigations have) and not that it would have made the experience any sweeter to own the hospital, but I wish wish wish I had moved my ass and gotten my client what was rightfully hers when she was in the midst of the bullshit shit she was in. This was another case of being yelled at, too, but this time, I answered back appropriately. I was professional and used the proper terminology and even when the Charge Nurse escalated the tone and volume of the tirade, I remained calm and answered her point for point. I was proud of myself for that. There were a thousand things I could have done differently, but this was one I think I did right. I can't wait to tell this story. Soon. Very soon.

- When someone asks a hundred million questions before a photo shoot, they are going to be a PITA afterwards and make you wish you had never taken their picture in the first place. I promise to take heed and say "no" to any client like this in the future. They are too much work and not worth the headache.

- I hate that I have to think, "What will this look like in court?" when deciding to do something. I have learned about myself that it depends on the client what I am willing to go to jail for - who I am willing to go to jail for. She wants a breech at home? I can't do it for her. She wants to go to 43 weeks? I've done two of her babies and know her like family - I can do it for her. It may be wrong, but it's the way it is.

- I hate sometimes regretting owning a business.

- I hate that I hurt women's hearts without meaning to.

- I have to let go of the pain that I feel from being so injured that my kids had to go live with their father during part of their growing up years. Look! They are grown and still love me and aren't damaged beyond all recognition, what is my issue? It is my issue, that is for sure. They have never made it theirs ever. This mother guilt is so insidious it has eaten me ill and it has to stop when this post is posted. I cannot allow this pain to continue making me so ill anymore. My kids have forgiven me (if they ever even had a problem with it), it's time to forgive myself.

- I make one more sweeping "I'm Sorry" to the women I've abused over the years of learning midwifery. I don't scream in my sleep about them anymore because I sincerely feel I came to a place of peace with them, but I do feel angst at times. I need to complete the gesture and move on with never hurting women again and teaching my apprentices how not to hurt women either.

- I feel a teeny tiny bit of sadness about not finishing school to become a therapist for women who were birth abused. Mostly it feels like a humongous relief. I'm sorry I won't be there for the women who might have needed me - yes, I would have been great at it - but I also would have gone crazy (literally) doing it. I just don't have the compassionate detachment in me to do the job. Better I realize it now than after I already started the job!

- I'm sorry my partner and I didn't have more time together this year... we both worked our butts off.

- I'm sorry I didn't get home this year. I'm so homesick I could cry.

- I have to let go of the sadness of the things I wasn't able to do at my daughter's wedding... the pictures I didn't get, the tasks I didn't complete, the activities I didn't attend... I wish I could have been and done so much more. I have to turn it around and see what I did do and where I was and what pictures I did get. I have to see the beauty of her joy and be joyous with her.

- I have to stop regretting my children's growing up and moving out because it is a good thing when it happens. They aren't angry teens anymore; they are adults making wise choices with healthy relationships. What mother could ask for more? I need to be proud and stop whining that I won't be nursing any babies anymore (even though Baby #2 said I could nurse one of hers if I really felt compelled to when she had one).

- I need to see myself as healthy and whole. No more sickness. No more baldness. No more handicapped sticker. No more whining. Healthy and whole. Inside and Out. In mind, body and spirit.

I think that's a pretty good list for now. There are a couple more days 'til the end of the year... if I think of something, I might add a couple more posts before closing the door completely, but I will close the Whining Door of Regret and Sadness on New Year's Eve and open the Door of Joy and Fulfillment on New Year's Day and expect all of my wishes and desires to be right there as I swing it open.

I deserve it and have worked damn hard for it.

Haven't we all?

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    - Navelgazing Midwife Blog - Pondering and Moving Forward

Reader Comments (3)

man you are a busy busy person. I think that you have some great ideas- and am glad you are planning on sleeping- if a mom needs help and direction then ok one person at a time up with her- that person can listen too. so the other option is worn out midwife with less than perfect judgment-- I can remember 15 yrs ago or so I was working with an older mw and she had an recovering drug addict 11th pregnancy 1 previous child -- well they labored all night she was a single mom- the the mw called me- and not long after that she was ready to transfer- mom was too- but I had plenty of energy and I could see that mom really had enough in her to keep going- she was still in her 20's - and she did end up giving birth at home- in the middle of everyone preparing to leave.
I had some folks who were self sufficent enough but just wanted me around actually they were comfortable as long as I was sleeping near by- I left the room to sleep somewhere else when several others showed up to help out but they asked if I wouldn't just come back and sleep in there. ;)
anon S ---

December 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hey Just wanted to let you know I'm still reading, and cheering for you. You're such an a mazing woman, and I think you're doing great. *hugs* Blogger finally found a way to let me do the word verification thingy, so I should be able to comment more often.

December 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChar

You are right to set a firm standard about getting sleep, and I think women will be glad, not angry. As a person who has spent a lifetime getting emergency care from residents who are so tired they couldn't recite the ABCs correctly if asked, I'm all for anyone helping me with anything health related being well rested. This is one more area where you are helping the woman trust her body and the birthing experience by letting it be. Explain it just like you did here, emphasizing your trust in a mother to give birth the way it naturally unfolds. I'll bet that you'll be surprised how many women like your honesty and willingness to take care of yourself while caring for them.

December 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPsyche

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