Last week I had an exam in Neonatology, and my teaching project and a presentation in Neonatology all due at the same time, so it was a bit hectic. This week, the only thing on my plate is a few modules and some studying for the upcoming final exams, and a write-up of my teaching presentation, so I’m taking a justified, (albeit brief) break, and blogging for a delicious change.
I was looking back over some of the posts I’d written about hospital birth over the past year and a half, and I feel that the time has come to eat some crow. Not a huge amount of crow—not a grilled crow steak with onions and salad and the works, but maybe a crow kebab or crow pie appetizer. I think I was feeling very burned out this past summer, very very tired of all of the hospital birth BS, and I think a lot of that had to do with how very tired I was of working as a nurse. I was (and am) ready for change, and ready to be working as a midwife, and now that I’m actually more than halfway through my IP clinical rotation, and am finally (FINALLY!!!) catching babies, it’s as if a large piece of the puzzle has fallen into place. Suddenly, everything feels right in the universe, and I’ve been so ridiculously happy lately, now that I am actually doing what I have wanted to do for so long—this glorious, miraculous, beautiful work that has called to me for over 5 years now. So, the burned out feeling is gone, and in it’s place is a refreshing sense of growth, because I am learning so much right now, and heading in such a fantastic direction, and things finally feel like they’re moving. It’s slowly dawning on me that school will in fact be over (probably much sooner than I’m ready for), and that I will indeed be a midwife someday (really, truly!!).
The point being, the hospital where I’m currently doing my clinical rotation flips a lot of the hospital-birth stereotypes on their heads, and maybe this has a lot to do with the fact that midwives are employed by this hospital, and respected by this hospital (and the OB Dept., which says a lot right there), and do a lot of the work of running the labor and delivery floor. I can only write from my experience, and this is what I’ve seen: 3 years of working as an L&D nurse in two seperate hospitals, and I’d say that at least 90% – 95% of all births involved an epidural. A woman without an epidural was either making a huge and difficult point to labor “naturally”, or had simply managed to show up to the hospital fully dilated and unable to recieve one in time before she delivered. I can’t say that the majority of births I’ve seen have had at least a 1st degree laceration, but I do feel that at work, an intact perineum is often a rarity, and a very pleasant surprise. Women, as a rule, are not allowed to eat or drink during labor. The squat bar often sat gathering dust in a corner, the birthing balls were rarely (if ever) used, and getting a woman out of bed was always a very rare and unexpected treat, that often required a lot of fighting for. It was never the norm.
And this is not to say that there are no fights to be fought at the hospital where I am currently doing my clinicals, but I’ve been paging through my delivery book (21 births so far, believe it or not!!!) and noticing that more than halfof the woman I’ve worked with haven’t had any analgesia or anesthesia on board (14 out of 21, to be exact). The majority of them have had intact perineums. I’ve used the squat bar more times in the past 7 weeks than I have used it or seen it used in the past year at the hospital where I’m working. The women on the floor are almost always given clears to drink, which is a much better deal than being NPO (i.e., not allowed to eat or drink anything), and some women are even allowed to eat some lunch in the early part of their labor or induction. And while getting a woman out of bed still causes a lot of eyebrows to be raised, I’ve seen it happen at least 4 times so far, and once we even got the woman out of bed, off the monitor, and into the shower, where she would have remained if only someone could have stayed in the room with her to fend off the anxious nurses trying to get her back on the monitor.
Oh, and VBACs! Did I mention that this hospital does VBACs? And not just attempted VBACS, but actual, squalling-baby-born-vaginally type VBACs?? Very very pleasant surprise. I think I can possibly count on one hand the number of successful VBACs I’ve seen at Tried and True Hospital.
And have I mentioned lately how much I’m enjoying my clinical rotation so far? And these births!! All these beautiful births!! I’ve caught so many babies so far! I feel so blessed, and so lucky, despite the exhaustion and over-worked brain and tired legs and mounds of homework. I stayed late one night and caught three babies in a row, one right after the other—women I’d been laboring with all day, and had been examining all day, and watching as their cervixes changed from 2 cm to 6 cm to fully dilated, and was then lucky enough to be able to catch all of their babies. Afterwards, at around 2:00 in the morning, as I was finally leaving, I stopped by the postpartum room of the first woman I had delivered that night (she was a successful VBAC!!) to say goodbye. She had been wearing a gorgeous woven cloth rosary around her neck throughout her entire pregnancy and birth, and she pulled it off and gave it to me, and I walked down to the lobby with tears in my eyes, cradling the beautiful rosary. It is such an honor, and such a gift, to be able to be with women at the moment of their births, and to be able to catch their babies. Some days I can’t believe my luck and good fortune, because that’s really what it feels like to me. I am such a lucky woman! This really is the best job in the world.