Sunday, August 2, 2009

Midwifery

Hi! Posting from Osoyoos! It is so great here. And hot! We are hiding from the midday sun, but we were at the beach for a few hours this morning enjoying our Osonerdy vacation with all our buddies!!
Asheya had a good question for me, regarding my future career plans, which she posed in the comments section of one of my 'work stories' posts. Here it is;

Just a thought...if you find transfers boring, do you think you might find midwifery boring? According to the stats 90% of women have healthy births and can give birth naturally, with no interventions. This number may be higher for those who qualify for midwifery care in BC. In my opinion, the job of a good midwife is to do a lot of nothing, just hanging out with the woman, the equivalent of holding someone's hand in the ambulance, except in those rare cases when she needs to know how to intervene most effectively.

Probably working as a doula will help give you some good insight into whether the process of normal labour and birth itself is interesting enough for you. As a doula you could make yourself available for those with high risk cases, although you wouldn't be able to do that as a midwife. Anyway, just some thoughts!


I have a few thoughts on this--it is something I have considered.
First of all, my switch to midwifery is not a change to seek a new kind of adrenaline rich excitement that mirrors or builds upon my paramedic career. There are many things about midwifery that appeal to me, but not necessarily because they are similar to paramedicine.
Things that appeal to me about midwifery include building relationships with clients and their families during the ante and post natal period, supporting and empowering women as they go through the intensity and transitions of labour and delivery, working with babies (who can resist a warm, squishy, sweet baby?), learning more and working within a field I am passionate about and very interested in, and being a part of the redemption of birth in our culture from a percieved dangerous, painful, and stressful event to a natural, intense, positive process that women are capable of doing.
I find people interesting and I like work that has me be a part of significant moments in their lives. Death, birth, tragedy, illness, injury, learning, epiphanies, transitions, parenthood, baby showers, weddings, baptisms...I love them all. Of course, since I have this tendency to be passionate about moments and transitions, it is part of my journey to learn to love the significance of everyday life. Meals, baths, running through sprinklers, scrubbing bathtubs, blogs, laundry, and sleeping...
I find that in order for my work to be something I enjoy, it needs to feel significant. It needs to move me. I need to feel convicted about everything I do. It is the same in my art. If it doesn't feel authentic, I'm not interested in engaging with it. If it feels like fluffy decorative design, it bores me. Work can't ALWAYS be interesting--there are boring aspects of every job, and difficult people to work with, and frustrating days. But overall, I need to feel like the work I do makes a difference in peoples' lives, otherwise it is not worth it for me to get up and leave my kids and go to work. Of course, I could very well stay home with my kids full time instead of seeking work that feels significant, but for me work has been something that helps me feel balanced, fed, and whole. All women need something that helps them find balance; for some work does that for them, and for others a hobby or a relationship or fitness or reading or any number of things.

Part of why I dislike transfers is that they feel like a symptom of a weakness in our public system. Instead of adequately equipping a number of hospitals with medical technology, our province chooses to shuffle people around in ambulances for access to CT scanners, MRI machines, Cath labs, and etc. Specialized care like trauma centres, specialized pediatric or maternity care, and others make sense to me because centralizing your resources concentrates specialists in one or two areas, keeping imperative skills as fine tuned as possible and making the best care available to those who need it. But a lack of availability of medical technology is solely based on funding. Sure, we need to watch medical spending in our public system, but when patient comfort, care, and health are compromised by the shuffling around of people via ambulance, I find it frustrating and inappropriate. When I do transfers, I feel like a cog in a broken machine. I do also feel like a master's degree fetching coffee just loading a stable patient into an ambulance and charting while we travel to another location. It feels inauthentic, insignificant, and boring.

There will be boring aspects of midwifery, but so much of what is entailed in the job is meaningful. I know from experience how much it comforts a woman to have people simply sit with her while she labours, and so I know I can find that aspect significant, and therefore fulfilling. I don't know of any adult human who isn't affected by the profundity of a baby being born, and imagine the birth itself to be an adrenaline rush simply to witness in all its normalcy. So I won't be giving up the adrenaline rush altogether.
I feel that my experience working in emergency medicine will greatly help my ability to assess and respond in the rare instance when resuscitation or hemorrage control or intervention of some kind is necessary. But I am not seeking to become a midwife so that I can be a part of those moments. In fact, I am getting slowly burned out of witnessing peoples' tragedies, and it is heavily affecting my world view and feeding my anxiety, so some beautiful, normal, non emergency birth would be good for my soul.

So I think it is less the action (or inaction) that frustrates me, and more my perception of its meaningfulness, usefulness, or appropriate use of the resource that is in me. I am a very patient person in many ways. I can sit quietly for long periods of time and feel perfectly at peace with that.
And hopefully some doula experiences will confirm these thoughts, and confirm my ability to enjoy midwifery even in its quiet moments.
Hopefully!

2 comments:

Dana said...

Makes sense to me. I know you will be a fantastic doula and then midwife.

Asheya said...

I'm so glad to hear what you had to say in response to my questions! I think you'll make a great midwife. I also need what I work on to be significant (part of why I'm drawn to birthing issues, I'm sure).

I think that after witnessing and attending to all the tragedy that is part of being a paramedic, midwifery will be very healing. Being able to witness and attend to a new person entering the world, in as healthy a way possible, wow - that is a place of joy!

Anyway, glad to hear that it is not so much about the adrenaline rush and more about transitional moments and relationships with people. That makes a lot of sense.

Love you lots!