One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
It has been a bumpy road thus far. Being back at the clinic, trying to connect with a new group of fellow students (who all had bonded months before I arrived) and then getting back into the flow of the clinic and birth has been a challenge.
I have had a mixed bag of experiences with labor and birth since my return. First quarter, from what I recall, was all lovely smooth births and only one transfer for stalled-out labor / maternal request.
Since being back I have had an onslaught of complications and transfers to Hospital, with a few smooth labors and births mixed in. Here is a recap:
- I had a mom with Pre Labor Rupture of Membranes (PROM) whose labor set in almost at deadline and progressed extremely rapidly. A beautiful, if not somewhat chaotic, fast birth followed by a transfer of baby 5 hours later for unresolving tachypnea (fast respirations).
- I had another PROMer whose contraction pattern set in nicely after herbal stimulation, then transferred for long decelerations of fetal heart rate while baby was still high and mom not yet in active labor. It turned out she was active by the time she got to the hospital, but it was a face presentation which can be tricky to deliver vaginally.
- Another PROMer, whose labor set in after herbal stimulation and birthed beautifully but with some moderate meconium in the water when the bag ruptured. We were prepared to suction baby at birth but as the head presented all the stained liquor sprayed from the baby’s nose like an ornamental fountain, thus clearing itself without the need for suction. Pretty impressive!
- A lovely birth with no issues.
- Then a PROMer again with failure to progress (per our protocol) after many hours laboring and fetal tachycardia not resolving with interventions, who transferred.
- Then a labor (not PROM, finally) who developed late and variable fetal heart rate decelerations not resolving with O2 and left side lie who, upon rupture of membranes, had very particulate meconium and transferred to hospital. We later learned baby was being kept in NICU for serious health issues unrelated to the birth.
Phew! A very long list of not the most lovely experiences. Luckily at the end of all this, I have had two gorgeous births since, no tears, no issues, very peaceful and very pleased clients and babies at discharge.
I was starting to feel like I was the cause of all these complications, though realistically I know I can’t CAUSE people to PROM or babies to present in certain manners, or have non-reassuring fetal heart rates…but that is how I felt. My fellow students were having a bunch of lovely births to report on and I had a slew of transfers. It made me feel crummy and has been a big test to my self-esteem. As the “new girl” in the group, I feel I am judged more on my outcomes than the others, though this is likely just a perception. I definitely burnt a lot of sage through all this, trying to cleanse any negative energy I may have been contributing.
Of course, all of these experiences are overseen by the Licensed Midwives (LM) on shift with us, so no course of action is ever undertaken without their assessment of the situation and final decision. But the students here LOVE to make assertions about the decisions made and what constitutes a necessary vs unnecessary transfer. For some here, I feel like transferring to the hospital is equivalent to making a pact with the devil, something to be avoided at all costs! But recognizing what falls within our scope of practice and what does not is an important part of being a safe practitioner.
Last shift, I had the chance to talk over one of the more recent transfers with the Supervising Midwife in that case, someone with decades of experience whose opinion really matters to me. She reassured me that the transfer was definitely necessary and that I was not just overreacting to the situation or creating a problem where one did not exist. She went on to say that she was relieved the situation occurred with me as the student midwife because she felt she could trust me to deal with a difficult scenario. That made me feel better.
I have been trying to put everything into perspective and am realizing that THIS is my time to LEARN, so having a bunch of perfect scenarios, while nice, is not exactly a learning experience for real life. Having complications arise and being able to recognize and react to them IS teaching me valuable lessons for later when I am practicing on my own. I need to know how to react in these more complex situations in order to provide good, safe care in the future.
SO while the experience has been less than rosy at times, it has been valuable. I hope to continue learning and improving, and to remain humble and appreciative of the lessons no matter what form they may take.
So, I am officially on-call now. This means that I have personal clients, and I get called into the clinic when they have appointments and / or go into labor. This is in addition to the time we already spend in the clinic for shifts. A client goes “into dates” from week 37 of pregnancy to week 42, and for the duration of that time I have to be available at a moments notice.
I guess the feeling of not being able to do anything or go anywhere on my days off here has inspired a LOT of day dreaming about what I will do when this is all over…for fun I mean. Oh the adventures I am frothing over right now! Graduation gifts, anyone???
I have decided to try to combat this mounting unrest by creating the occasional “wish-list” here on the blog. Today it’s all about getting back to nature and pushing myself physically rather than academically / psychologically / emotionally or “sleep-deprivationally”.
I hope to get the opportunity to try all of these adventures at some point in the near future. I definitely think a ladies-only surf and yoga retreat would be the perfect way to unwind from all this stress though. That may be my first choice for now, plus I know Surf With Amigas and they do it right – great fun and some incredible clean eats to help detox my adrenals. Check ’em out if you get the chance, the investment is well worth it.
Next on my list is NOLS sea kayaking or sailing adventures in Baja. Oh, to set out in the turquoise waters of Mulege, MX and spend all day on the water and all night camping on deserted little beaches under the stars! It sounds so dreamy.
Lastly, after I get my OCEAN fix, I would love to head out for a hiking trip on the John Muir Trail. I crave the experience of being out on the trail with my pack, some good people and gorgeous wilderness. I don’t have grand plans to do the whole trail, but a small section of it would be fantastic.
Here’s to wishing!
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
The new moon energy is upon me. Testing, begging, to release the past and embrace what is to come. It is a time to be introspective and I am feeling that deeply as of late. Finding my shadow side, exploring it, accepting the darkness while still recognizing the abundance of LIGHT required to cast such deep shadows. Finding those aspects of myself that no longer serve me and flushing them out. It has been a time of creativity, playing with watercolors, drawings, collages etc. Lots of MUSIC. Lots of sage burning. Some tarot cards. Pulling cards that are so clear: all about growth, personal strength, undoing self-doubt, letting the LIGHT shine BRIGHT .
Growth is hard work. Learning to face my weaknesses, to see OPPORTUNITIES rather than defeat – ooph, it can be exhausting! But I think worth it ultimately. I have faith that I can do it, out here in strange lands, floating on my own…I can do it.
Artwork By Aitch
Such a luscious representation of the womb. Trying to inspire myself after a long night and not enough sleep. Sometimes the best self-care is finding the beauty in what we see daily…
Follow the link above for more of her beautiful work
Loving all the images going through my Instagram feed for World Breastfeeding Week!
Can we celebrate this kind of beauty and bond everyday please?!
I am just coming off the high of a beautiful and empowered hospital birth I was invited to do labor support for. Feeling all kinds of inspired at the strength of my sisters. So blessed to do this work.
Live. Love. Latch.