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.
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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