“I was stupid…” “I thought I could trust her…” “I mean, I deserved it because I didn’t know better…” “We just didn’t know…”

When I meet a writer, I will usually share with them that I wrote a fantasy novel many years ago.
When I meet a skydiver, I will share with them that I was once a licensed jumper and we will swap stories of being in the air.
And when people find out that I’m a midwife, they usually share their birth stories.

They know I “get it” – I know the right times to congratulate them, and the appropriate time for my jaw to drop because of a scary moment or fist pump their triumph with them. It’s validating to be heard and understood, and they know that I both hear them and also understand their story in a way that many can’t.

Through their stories, however, so many times I hear the statements that I used to open this blog post. “So I was induced and found out it was because of (some non-medical reason)…I just did what they told me to do. I was stupid….”
“My doctor told me that if we didn’t have a c-section that my baby would die from shoulder dystocia so we scheduled a c-section – I didn’t know it was because he was going on vacation.”
“My midwife told me that if I didn’t get an epidural now that they couldn’t be sure I could get one later if I changed my mind and it would probably help me dilate since I was a first time mom….I thought I could trust her so I got one.”
“My doctor told me that if I walked 3 miles every day my birth would be easy. I walked 3 miles every day but then once I went into labor I was contracting for six hours and she still wasn’t out so they gave me a c-section. We just didn’t know….”
“Oh I had everything for my birth! Induced, epidural, episiotomy…it was horrible! Worth it because he’s here now, but it was horrible! I mean, I deserved it because I didn’t even take a childbirth class so I didn’t know better….but man, that was awful.”

These are all real statements that I’ve heard – and trust me, these are just samplers from a much much larger menu over the last 24 years. I am not about to “Monday morning quarterback” these very valid experiences – I wasn’t there, I don’t know what was actually said or what actually happened. I have heard my OWN clients tell their birth stories in which I’m screaming in my own head, “Umm….that’s not what happened…” but it doesn’t actually matter what happened. When it comes to our memories, what really happened doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is what you think happened and how it made you feel. If you BELIEVE that someone wronged you, it actually doesn’t matter if they did or not – it feels the same to you because you believe it. Whether that woman was induced because her doctor was going on vacation or because she had a real medical concern is actually irrelevant to this blog post – she FELT like it was medically unnecessary and so for her the trauma of having that happen is real. I am not here to debate the validity of those birth choices – I’m here to discuss this blog posts opening statements.

The idea that women need to educate themselves to protect themselves from bad birthing choices and to protect themselves from their health care providers breaks my heart. You SHOULD trust your health care provider – and if you find that the trust has been betrayed, then that is US failing YOU! Your doctor/midwife is there to protect, to serve, to help and to be trustworthy. Trusting the wrong person doesn’t make you stupid, it makes them the wrong person.

As a midwife, I want my clients to trust me and I work really really hard to gain their trust. I always try to put their needs first, to hear them, to help in ANY way that I can – but most importantly, to respect them. I hope that there hasn’t been a single family that has hired me that has walked away thinking that I was making decisions for ME rather than doing what was in their best interest. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, but I’m always trying my best to be the safest and most respectful midwife I can be. I try to be trust-WORTHY. As I think that every doctor, midwife, nurse, and hospital should strive to be. You weren’t stupid for trusting us, we let you down.

It is a relationship like any other in our lives. To have a care provider betray that trust is like having a partner that cheats on you. You believed in them, you trusted them to put you first, you thought they had your best interest at heart, and then you found out that they betrayed that trust. Were you stupid for marrying them? Heck no! You were an undying romantic that thought you’d have the sunset with the happily ever after! THEY were jerk-faces for betraying your trust, and nothing you could have possibly done to them deserves that. They might have their “reasons”….but that doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make it your fault. We have to own our actions – and we all have to be held accountable for our actions.

You shouldn’t have to take a class, you shouldn’t have to hire a doula to protect you, you shouldn’t have to avoid, protect, prepare to say no…..

You should trust your care provider – and they should be trust worthy.
You should educate yourself so that you feel good and less fearful of what’s to come as well as to help you making non-medical decisions (which most decisions in birth are! They are non-medical decisions!).
You should hire a doula because they are AWESOME and you can’t have too much love and support during your birthing time.
You should know without a doubt that your care provider is on your side, you are a team and that whatever happens you will be respected.
You should know that we are all on your team and that everything we do is only to help you.

And if we fail you, please know that it is on us. And I am sorry.

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