Standing in line, registering for the La Leche League Conference that is this weekend, a woman came up to me and commented on my having hair this year. She said she’d seen the pictures in my blog throughout the last year, but it was different in person and I looked great! I fumbled for a second and said, “My blog?” and she said she was a faithful reader, to which I laughed and said, “Who, crazy ol’ me?” and she said that must say something about her, too, since she read every day (note to Self: don’t say that again!) and I embarrassingly laughed as she wandered off to do her thing. I’d lost all composure and said to Donna, “I’ve been blog-sided!” I do admit it was a soothing Ego stroke (I can hear Eckhart moaning now) – and it was funny-odd, too.
A rapid-fire process of “What have I written in the last year?” and a bullet list of all the titles of my posts came to mind, zipping past my mind’s eye at lightning speed. Did I say anything embarrassing? Was I hateful to anyone? Did I hurt anyone’s feelings? Could I have been nicer to people? Did I make anyone laugh? How depressing was I? Why did I get so morose with the Wicked stuff? I hope she knows I love midwifery… that I just had a hard patch for awhile (good gawd, I am at a LLL Conference!).
A sort of blog-flashing-before-your-eyes moment.
Shouldn’t every written word that makes its way to the “page” be considered in this much depth (and oh, so much more)? With all the attention words in general receive in our culture and in particular, on the Internet, blogged words certainly require an extra dose of let-me-look-at-you-another-second-before-hitting-publish don’t they?
I am a pretty impromptu writer. Watching me write, you would see me type out the piece, correct a few mistakes, read through the piece once, correct another mistake or two and then hit publish. I then read through the published piece, see new things to be corrected, fix those and then move on. If glaring deficiencies are brought to my attention, I correct those, but post-production corrections are rare. I spell deliciously, so don’t need spell check loads – and write in Word far too infrequently, but am working to correct that (I’ve lost more than a few really great pieces because I wrote in Blogger and not Word) – I am writing in Word now.
Because of my off-the-cuff style of writing, I have, at times, said things that, while seeming correct to me, in my world, when pointed out to me, were wrong in other people’s worlds.
A recent example: Regarding the Fat Vagina post, an anonymous commenter said:
You wrote: "I am the rare homebirth midwife who takes “obese” clients and doesn’t automatically see them as high risk, sick, Gestationally Diabetic, or an automatic transfer to have a cesarean."
See, now why do you have to do that? I'm not sure why you do it, but from this perspective, it looks like you feel the need to "pump yourself up" by putting down others (even subtly) in comparison. You so frequently say how you do things differently than "most midwives" or "other midwives" and those things you mention are pretty much standard of practice among most homebirth midwives--but yet you let your readers think you are so far and above all the others. It's not the truth that you are the "rare midwife" who (doesn't discriminate against obese women), because it actually would be a rare homebirth midwife who would risk a woman out for size.
I have been around midwives for 20 years, a lot of them, and I have not known any to discriminate against obese women the way you describe. Have you been party to everyone else's practices and choices over the years? You couldn't possibly, because as dwindling an art as midwifery is, there are sure a whole lot out there for one person to cover. How many midwives in your own community do you think would treat an obese women's case that way?
Why can't you simply say "I don't discriminate against women in the following ways....etc etc" which is really not only an honest statement (stick with the "I," not comparisons) but doesn't give an inaccurate impression to readers about how other midwives practice? This is something I've seen here many times, and I hope you will really think about it rather than dismiss it because you don't like to hear it. It's a mean-spirited habit that gives midwives in general a bad name, all in the interest of making yourself sound better. I know you are very given to exaggeration, but can you consider toning that down more to truth-size when referring to other people? In terms of how you manage the various practice patterns you have blogged about here and how you do them "better," "less," or "more," most really are not any different than how the average homebirth midwife practices.
I say, “…. “ and an anonymous poster clarifies by saying, “…”
I’ve sat with these words for a couple of weeks now, listening deeply, wondering about my Ego and whether I am trying to make myself (seem to) be a more wonderful midwife than all the other midwives (at least when I wrote the piece over a year ago)... and when I write in general. I tried to think about all the midwives in my experience who have had pregnant fat women come to them desiring their care and what the midwives said about them in public versus what they said about them in private and what the criteria was (emotional or “medical”) they used to decide to accept them into their care or pass them on to someone else.
I think this anonymous midwife is correct, especially in regards to this piece. I think the majority of homebirth midwives I know/have known do not automatically risk a fat woman out. I do have plenty of memories of CNMs who have had to risk fat women out of birth centers and even some hospital-based midwifery practices, not because they wanted to, but because their doctors required it.
In giving this a whole lot of thought, my only defense – and it is a lame one and not one I am claiming to keep – is that the article was originally written for OBs, RNs and CNMs and by saying that I was a “rare” midwife, perhaps I would be heard differently.
As I said. Lame. Lame. And wrong.
And I apologize.
I apologize to my midwife-sisters for saying that they risked fat women out. I apologize to fat women who now think midwives will risk them out for being fat. I apologize for my careless use of words that shouldn’t have been used flippantly – and while humility is, er… humbling, I want to thank the anonymous midwife for bringing my Ego to my attention. I will watch my words more carefully. Thank you.
And, while we’re at it.
There’s another commenter that I want to speak about.
When I wrote In My Emailbox, telling an aspiring midwife the painful and difficult sides of midwifery, Sam said:
Food for thought: I understand you've experienced some difficulties, but so often you speak of midwifery and of your own office with disdain and disgust. How can you continue to offer loving, attentive, quality care with all that swirling in your head and heart? I'm not so sure you can. WHY do you continue? Why bother? It doesn't serve the people your work is meant to serve, and you've made it repeatedly clear it isn't serving you. If we consider the law of attraction as a factor, you might consider finding work you DO love and can speak kindly of, because this continued attitude isn't going to turn things around for you anytime soon. If potential clients could all read what you think about it, I wonder if they would want to trust you as their midwife, and just because they can't all read it...doesn't it emanate from you anyway? How will that truly build a practice?
And while I respect your right to hold and discuss your feelings about it, I personally feel it's unfair and selfish to speak of it as if it's the bottom-line truth for everyone, as if you're revealing the one real truth about being a midwife. This is what it's been like for YOU, but it is NOT every midwife's experience...it is NOT the truth of midwifery.
S/he asked me questions that needed to be asked - bluntly, harshly, yet filled with a knowing of me as a person, that I wouldn’t (probably) go deleting my blog, ignoring the words by defending myself self-righteously (maybe I would at first, but I didn’t even then) or being so snippy as to delete the moderated comment and not allow anyone else to even read it. I never even considered not publishing it.
I don’t know who you are, Sam, but you were quite the cold splash of water in my face! I was none too pleased to read what you had to say, but I listened anyway and your words coincided with the introduction of all The Secret information and its subsequent absorbing into my system. If you hadn’t said what you said, I don’t know if I would have been as receptive to The Secret, Abraham Hicks, etc. It all might have glanced over me and I’d still be splashing around in the neck-high water of isn’t-this-so-hard-on-me? Thank you.
Other Bloggers are being blog-sided, too.
Flea, Fat Doctor, Neonatal Doc, etc. have all shut down, moved or removed their blogs. An on-going discussion about medical blogs and their noteworthiness (or patient exploitation-ness) has me sighing with understanding for their situations (except for Flea who might actually be discussing his blog in court). It is easier for me to ask outright, “Do you mind if I write about you/this?” than it is for a doctor, but I suspect blanket admitting/registration forms one day might include, “… and give my permission to allow any discussion regarding my case, whether face-to-face or in a cyber setting…”
Continue reading your forms.
While I haven’t read these docs in awhile, it saddens me greatly they are no longer a part of the Medical Blogosphere; I always knew they were just over there, ready for me to read when I had a minute. And now they are gone. Their humor, their wisdom, their points of view, their amazing writing skills. Gone.
My hope is that each time I am blog-sided, when those flashes of “what-did-I-write?” zing through my mind, I hope I can smile (mostly)… knowing that I did do my best, write my best, and that the next person after that walking up to me hugs me, thanks me and wishes me many more words.
There are still so many more words. Always, many more words.