Recently, I was un-midwife’d. A client, whom I’d already been a midwife for a couple of years ago, during her present pregnancy, relieved me of my duties. She didn’t tell me herself, her new midwife did. I cried.
My first reaction was to pick apart her behaviors, look at the signs she’d given off over the last few months. I made assumptions about her motives and nodded to myself, “See? She just <fill in the blank>.”
When I’d mentioned I was un-midwife’d in Facebook, I received kind comments from other midwives and doulas, commiserating with my situation. Seems I’m not the only one to have been fired.
And then a wise midwife talked about how, when it happened to her, it took some time, but she knew she needed to look at her own behavior, see what she had done to bring about the dramatic shift in the relationship. All of a sudden, all the blame for my previous client paled in comparison to my own actions.
I could see where I’d been confrontational and even flippant. I didn’t take my role seriously enough, relying instead on our friendship to propel the pregnancy forward. I’d hijacked parts of her prenatals, talking about things unrelated to her care, assuming we were visiting. I wasn’t terribly professional.
I like to believe that even if I hadn’t read that comment from a FB friend, I would have eventually gotten to the introspective part, but I really appreciated her pushing me in that direction a lot faster.
None of us enjoys being turned down or not chosen, but in midwifery, it’s important to come to terms with that reality since the very basis of our work is making sure client and midwife are a good fit. It really is important to me to have potential clients interview at least three midwives; if they don’t know their choices, they have no choices. (Don’t we say the same thing about childbirth practices in general?)
When I first became a homebirth midwife, it didn’t take long for the Which-Midwife-For-Me contest to begin. Knowing full well how things worked… the on-line exploration or word of mouth referrals, the email and phone call exchanges and then the free consultation interview… the next logical step was the client picking who was the best fit for them. It’s what we all want, right?
But, what happens when you totally connect with a family and then never hear from them again? It’s an odd feeling… a not-consummated relationship you expected would be a really good time. The thoughts dash about:
-Did I say something to offend them?
-Was it the Diet Coke? Did that drive them off?
-I thought we had so much in common. I guess being lesbian, swirly skirt and Birkenstock-wearing woman just wasn’t enough.
-Who are they going to find to be a better fit than me?
(Oops, that’s where the ego slips in; hard to tame that ego sometimes.)
Just this week, I’ve been rejected (if you want to call it that) twice. One was an old previous client; she chose another midwife without so much as a phone call or an interview with me. And then, a client I’d monitriced for, chose another midwife, again without an interview. What the heck?
I’ve got all kinds of (childish) “they don’t like me” thoughts running through my head.
When I have asked (and it takes an act of superior strength to do so), the answer comes back, “You weren’t the right midwife for this birth.” This confuses me. How am I the right one once and not again? Did I do something wrong? Have I changed that much? How come I am the right midwife for some women through multiple pregnancies, but not as a repeat in others?
One of my clients told me she evaluates what she and her baby needs for each pregnancy. She’s had two hospital births, then a UC and then hired me for the next baby. As much as she loves me (she says), she will still evaluate what the next baby needs and follow him/her wherever that takes her. She said it could very well be to another midwife or another UC. My heart twinges thinking I might not be her midwife next time, but isn’t it something I insist on? That women tap into that intuition and listen to what they know in their souls?
I need to believe and accept what the women say. Perhaps I am simply not the right midwife for those babies’ births. It is a selfish desire to be at consecutive births when I do truly strive to serve women. As a midwife, I serve women. I serve even when it isn’t comfortable, when, if it isn’t a matter of life and death, is a decision that wouldn’t be one I would choose. Part of serving women is laying low, sitting quietly in the corner, giving mom the space and time to walk through her pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum. More often than not, this excludes me –and isn’t that supposed to be the good thing? The right thing? If a woman is tapping into her own strength and that of her partner, isn’t that when the most beauty is born? Women radiate blazing light as they tap into their own power and inner knowledge. It’s important for me to respect that knowledge and tuck my bruised ego into a place the women never have access to. Well, unless they read this, of course.
Knowing I’m not alone, that even the most wonderful midwives and doulas I know have been rejected, helps me unslump my shoulders, wipe the tears and believe the Universe has something else, equally magnificent, to attend to instead.
I eagerly await my assignment.