Thursday, June 17, 2010

See that thing on the right?

How do these things get handed out?

I ignored it for a bit, thinking it was a viral phishing code, but as I have barely posted anything this year I thought it would make for another post! Desperate huh?

Anyway, I have really mixed feelings about any such thing. You've probably noticed that I don't write so much recently about work and individual births. This is because I was heavily warned off by a series of events, including a lecture on cyber-presence and how one is vulnerable to 'flaming' if radical groups find you and take you on. Examples were given and my blog was used (among others) to illustrate the talk. This blog IS in the public domain, so it IS fair game to such things. No permission was necessary. But it made me feel vulnerable.

I also received a few comments accusing me of breaching confidentiality. Just a few, scattered over one or two posts, mixed with many times more comments appreciating the posts. But coupled with the warning lecture it put me off. I didn't enjoy writing it anymore, even though I still felt the same way, and reflected just as much as I always had, it was just in my head, instead of on the page and shared with readers.

I wondered if I could leave stories to 'cool off' for a while before telling them. Then days became months, and so many stories fell away from my memory. And I got out of the habit of sharing them with you. I felt silenced, but safe from criticism.

There have been many, many stories I wish I could share.

I haven't actually seen a baby pushed from a vagina in months. Truly. I did have a woman pushing with me two weeks ago, a first timer, but after an hour it became clear she was going to need a hand to get her baby out. But the doctors were busy. So even though I stayed late after a nightshift, I still didn't see the baby emerge.

I had another woman, another first timer last week. She was being induced for post-dates at 11 days after her due date. The balloon catheter hadn't budged after 18 hours. We deflated it and applied hormone gel high in her vagina near the cervix to help ripen it. My shift ended and I handed over to another midwife and student, who were between 2 rooms. I could see she was contracting a bit, but I went home. I thought I would have her again the next day (our third day allocated together for continuity). But she was left alone for a long time on that shift as they got busy in the other room. She called the bell later that evening and was attended by a different midwife who, finding a woman in some distress and contracting a fair bit, examined her. She was 8cm and proceeded to push her baby out two hours later!

So, a good result in the end, and a relatively uninterfered with 'natural' birth after a second induction attempt. I saw her the next day and they were a bit stunned but delighted with their daughter. They were pretty lucky that the docs were busy elsewhere, and that she was able to be undisturbed, even if they felt abandoned. I was sad they felt under-supported in the building labour, but thrilled for her that she achieved a vaginal birth, against the suspicion that her induction would be deemed a failure.

After a summer in the homebirth arena, the shallow end of is still chafing to find myself in a high-risk environment. Yet I am largely proud of the work we do in that world. We see a lot of stuff. A LOT of stuff. Big Stuff. Confronting and complex stuff. Life threatening stuff. And we do it, and deal with it, and do it well a lot of the time.

There are some who don't cope or thrive in that environment. There are some who have forgotten it can ever be any different. And there are some who have a bare minimum of exposure to complexity and emergency, and pooh-pooh those who work in those environments. I've met them all. Birth can turn in an instant. Recognising the instant is the art.

As a midwife I want to experience it all. I don't want to become so indoctrinated to swimming with sharks that I forget to take off my chainmail when dealing with goldfish. Yet I don't want to forget that birth (and life) is bigger than the goldfish bowl of homebirth. Most of the world sits somewhere in between. Its a tricky balancing act.

Yet despite the tightrope act....I love being a midwife.


Alby Mangroves said...

So sorry that you felt you had to protect yourself by not posting these amazing stories; I guess there's no telling what anyone constitutes as an invasion of privacy, or what someone might exploit. I'm sorry, because I really enjoyed your stories; it made me realise that mine were just as individual but also so much alike as those of other women, and let's face it; what mother doesn't want to read an interesting birth story? I'll keep reading x

Janet said...

I'm a bit sad that you can't write the birth stories anymore too - of course I understand why, it's tricky isn't it.

But I'm sure you'll find other ways to express and share what you need.

Stomper Girl said...

Congratulations on your award. You always write so well about your work, so it's very well-deserved.

I enjoy your stories too, but cyber privacy is a vexed issue and sometimes the easiest thing is to pull your head in.

em.s said...

I am so sad to hear that you feel silenced. During my pregnancy with Annie you were a beacon to me. Always positive even in the toughest of situations. If you help more people than you hinder, isn't it a good thing?

Perhaps you can see how to write in a way that keeps privacy somehow but still allows expecting mothers like me to get sorely needed advice and guidance.

We are too much like America lately. It saddens me.

Jennifer said...

I realized reading this just how much Facebook allows me to *think* I'm keeping up with people, but how shallow the experience of those sound bites is in comparison to reading and commenting on blog posts. While I've been looking in the FB direction (and finding it hard to carve out time to spend online and reading friends' blogs), I realize I've missed a lot of important goings-on for you. I'm sorry that you had the experience of your blog being held up as an example like that, and yet am encouraged to see you are still here, still writing, still sharing your experiences with us. When those who go looking to do battle over their beliefs/opinions manage to silence us out of fear for what might happen, they win. No voice should be silenced; each should be respectfully heard. Especially yours, which has taught me so much and brought me so much closer to the universal beauty of birth.