Saturday, March 29, 2008


I just found out from Faerylady that a previous client of mine is pregnant again. She was a primip and had a difficult posterior labor. She pushed for a very long time, had a minor shoulder dystocia, a slow to start baby and a very minor tear. Her mom was a doula that seemed to me to "freeze" during the birth and didn't engage in "doulaing" much, and later said she felt I had taken over her role. I felt I had only taken it over because someone had to and she wasn't doing it despite me inviting her frequently, "How about you rub her back? Can you hold her here? Why don't you lay down with her?" Etc. I did three postpartums for her -- 1 day, 3 days and 3 weeks, and then I got whooping cough and did not return for her 6 week. She was angry about this and said she felt I "dropped the ball" and had let them down and forgotten about them.

She emailed Faerylady to ask if there was anyone else in the area. There isn't. But Faerylady told her she would do the birth. The mom was thrilled. Faerylady said she was going to talk to me about it and needed to know why she didn't want me again. The mom said that while they loved me as a childbirth educator they thought I should have stuck with that and not be a midwife.

I realize as a midwife there are going to be people who don't like me. Who decide to use someone else next time. I knew this in my brain, but I guess I didn't realize it in my heart. I thought I was so wonderful that of course everyone would love me, right? Wrong. And it hurts.


vbacwarrior said...

I know it stings, and I'm sorry :(

I am a mother who is considering a different midwife for my next labor. I loved my last midwife and I think she is an *excellent* midwife.

However, my labor was veeeeery long. I didn't realize how long it was, and I didn't feel tired and was happy to keep puttering along. BUT, my midwife asked me "when was the last time you had any meaningful sleep?" and all of a sudden it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt tired, and began to doubt myself.

I'm sure she doesn't even remember asking me that, and it was such a little thing and I know she meant well... but that one simple little question completely threw me off track. It could have had disastrous consequences, though thankfully it didn't.

Perhaps this was what happened with you and your former client. Maybe you said something that was meant in love, and it just bothered her a little bit.

Radical Midwife said...

That is hard. I'm sorry! It is something that I would be sensitive to, as well. You can't please everyone all the time. Don't let their judgment of you affect your self-esteem as a midwife. :)

Lowa said...

I would try not to let it get to you, if you can. Sounds like these people have issues. If the mother thinks you took over for her and if they all think you dropped the ball...they clearly don't merit you spending any mental anguish on them. You know what I mean?? I don't mean that to sound bad, I am sure they are nice people but...seems a wee bit off to me.

Just my 2 cents!

Jawndoejah said...

That story is much worse than mine.

I did feel violated though when my nursie did cervical checks every 20 minutes, and held my cervix back through contractions (sometimes through two). She tried to "push the lip back" and then tried to stretch my perinium though I'd had 5 babies before. Why? I felt very violated with her fingers in me through the contractions, it hurt and made me feel vulnerable. She didn't cover me or anything, I hated it. I am a strong willed woman but said nothing. If I do birth again in a hospital I will not allow cervical checks by the nurse and maybe not by anyone. I didn't realize how traumatized I was until after the baby was born. Of course, I did have some moments with the nurse where I did argue a few points...not wanting to lie flat on my back, wanting to sit up when there was a decel, wanting to walk, wanting to pee. This nurse was trying to keep me in the bed because "I don't catch babies." She wouldn't let me walk the hall, have a bath or shower, nothing. I just sat there and let it happen, and also my husband sat there too. He said later, "they don't listen to you, they listen less to the husband."

It's been 6 months and I still get knots in my stomach.


Jawndoejah said...

Sorry, I wrote on the wrong post! I am sorry this happened with your client, but we birthing moms can be very weird about what we want in birth. It's just one, you'll probably have many that prefer you!


Nicole Ryan said...

I am so sorry. Although we can not please everyone. we are human and therefore imperfect and unable to match with everyone. I am so sorry, my first unsatisfied client really broke my heart as I felt I put my heart and soul into my work for them and they were not pleased. But for that one I have had 300 happy ones.

I hope you can find a way to move past this and continue to be the great midwife you are. I promise I am still working on my husband :)

ginger said...

my first birth was not-so-good. so I blamed the l/d nurse. she was my scapegoat so that I didn't feel guilty about asking for some numorphone and so I didn't blame my husband.

Having a scapegoat was REALLY important for the sake of my postpartum relation with my husband. Maybe for your client, blaming YOU (not a relative) was easier than blaming mom.

It's TERRIBLE to be the scapegoat. But DON'T take it personally. It isn't.

Just learn from it (there’s a lesson in everything) then move forward. And remember how WONDERFUL you've been for so many other mamas.


Kimberly said...

I can certainly understand where you're coming from. I am an educator and when our students leave us to pursue other paths it does hurt even if we know in our hearts that it's meant to be.

Not all relationships come to fruition. Even those that do sometime wither away or pass. It's not necessarily a comment about your midwifery skills but more likely a comment about our humanity.

Best wishes,

Amanda said...

I can imagine how hard it must be. I changed from an OB with whom I was terribly unhappy to an amazing midwife at 30 weeks with pg #1. I then delivered the other 3 with her, and even switched hospitals when she did.

You can't make everyone happy all the time, but you can often times make 99% of people happy.

Morag said...

Gonna do my best to quote something Penny Simkin told my counseling class a couple of weeks ago:

She has a good reason for feeling/acting/thinking the way she does, and even though it's directed at you right now it's not about you.

Make sense?
Let her have her way, and know that you did your best, and your best was probably superb. It's not about you.

xx Morag.

Emily said...

this was/is a big fear of mine! you're in a business where you are selling YOU and people can either like it or not. The "not" is what I would have trouble with! So I feel for you. It's like you know it's to be expected, etc, but when it happens it's still hard to swallow.

But I know that women love to pick apart their births, myself included. And the caregivers get such a tough deal! People are people, but it's easy to blame others for what you think they should have done or could've done differently. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?! I think us natural-birthers set a pretty high (unrealistic, sometimes) bar for our caregivers! :)


Emily said...

been meaning to tell you that a couple weeks ago we were at some store and the song from posey's birth story was playing, and I totally had a "moment"--strong feelings and sweet memories..... that was a truly beautiful birth after going through so much. and then I started thinking of Clementine's birth and all... mmm... anyway, just wanted to tell you I was thinking of ya!


Candace said...

All I can say is that I've been there (I'm there right now!) and it is a painful experience. It is so very hard not to take this kind of criticism and action personally when we care SO much and work SO hard to satisfy.

Ginger, Kimberly, and Morag hit the nail on the head- in my opinion. Sometimes women need scapegoats to move on from a disappointing situation, some relationships are not meant to be/continue, and it probably has *little* to do with you.

In the end, we just can't be perfect all of the time and please everyone. What does it say about the people that expect that?