I had written a letter to one of our clients, I wrote this letter because I did not have a chance to debrief with her in person. I would like to share her response and my reflection to it.
I haven’t had so much time to reflect on our birth experience. It was cool to read your insights and see it from an outside perspective. Your email served as a catalyst to revisit that day and think it over a bit more. I appreciate your thoughts and the honesty you presented them with. Thanks for taking the time to type it up.
I just have a few tidbits I’d like to add about my perception of some of the situations you mentioned, just in case it might help at the future births you attend.
First off, the post man…I completely forgot about this until I saw your email. I remember sitting on the toilet and hearing the buzzer. At the time, I thought for sure it was someone about to complain about ‘all the noise’ I was making. At that moment, I came out of the world I created to deal with the contractions, and was suddenly very self conscious. I also remember there being a pause of my contractions during this time.
When it came to the delivery phase, I think that you are right. I did get out of my groove. I had an expectation that it would take an hour or two and when that didn’t happen, I had this feeling that I wasn’t progressing (which was in direct contrast to the dilation phase where I felt like I was progressing with each contraction). This stagnant feeling made me feel pretty bad about myself and caused a great disconnect between the uncomfortable sensations that I was experiencing and what was happening to my body and to my baby. In retrospect, I understand that the pressure I felt was my baby moving down and that was progress…it wasn’t just fruitless pain. Unlike the dilation phase, where I was very much immersed in my own groove, I felt like I needed more coaching for the delivery. I know people were talking to me but the vagueness of their comments made me feel like there was something I was missing.
I’m glad that you sent me your write-up because I see now that everyone was trying to give me space to reconnect, and weren’t avoiding me…which is what it seemed like at the time and made me feel like something may be wrong or that people were upset with me for taking so long. This feeling that I wasn’t progressing on top of the lack of interaction with others made me feel lost. I feel like I did better during the delivery phase when I had interaction with people… breathing through the contractions with S, or A putting pressure on the area i needed to direct my pushing…this helped me a lot. I was pushing the whole time like I needed to go to the bathroom, which is the only push I’m familiar with, and it didn’t seem to be very effective for me. Though I wasn’t sure how or where I needed to push to move the baby out , having A’s finger at a specific point made my pushing more focused and got me to change what I was doing, which helped a lot.
In the end, though there were some interventions…fundal pressure, and pitocin (which I’m glad I had because I was really drained and under the circumstances, the little extra umph it gave refreshed my urge to push), I’m totally OK with that. i know that they were done for A’s (her baby) and my benefit, not for someone else’s, which was always our goal. Though I had such a lengthy delivery phase, I do walk away from this experience with a positive outlook for my next potential birth. I still very much believe in my ability to birth. I am stronger for having had this experience and getting through it gives me a sense of confidence that I will able to face future challenges, should they occur with my next birth. Needless to say, I will prepare a lot more, mentally and physically, for the delivery phase.
I realized right after A was born, and even more so in the days to follow ,that if I had another team working with me that day I most likely would have ended up with a c-section or a vacuum birth. It was your patience and more importantly your conviction that I was able to birth my baby that allowed me to continue to believe in myself when I was at my lowest. So when I say you guys made it possible, it’s because you continued to encourage me at the end when i was quite vulnerable..not that I couldn’t do it, but you all kept the opportunity open for me to do it way longer than any other team would have. And for me, on that particular day, in the mind set I found myself in was what I needed.
Anyway, it was great meeting you, and I’m glad you were there for our birth.
All the best,
My response/reflection on her response
Thanks for the reply, it is very helpful. I am so happy you feel positive about the experience and your explanation of how our support assisted you is super useful. I will make a point of communicating better with mothers in the future. It never occurred to me that you were feeling abandoned or that we were unhappy with your progress. But I can understand completely. I had the same fears with the birth of my first child. I do also agree that as a team, we all felt you could birthyour baby and wanted to convey our confidence to you. That is the beauty of working with my clinic, everyone there believes in a woman’s ability to birth. It was lovely to meet you all too.
I am constantly taken aback at how women see their birth on reflection and how what I see or we see as midwives can be so different. From my own experience with my first child, I do remember feeling that the length of my labor was getting on peoples nerves and that they must have somewhere else to be. I remember very well being aware of my husband sitting with me after many hours and feeling so grateful he did not just get up and leave. I think I need to keep these memories closer to hand in labors as it is easy to forget something so basic, but with such a powerful effect on women during this time. We do feel in many ways, at the mercy of those around us, and though as midwives, we want to protect the birthing space, it is good to remember and not just for first time mom’s, that we are also guides through birth, not just guardians of it.
It is a fine balance and changes with every woman, I hope to hone my instincts so that I can respond in the best way I can for each woman I support.