The Reluctant Midwife

Posted by Deborah McBain on April 21, 2014

Picking a subject for a post is not always easy. This week do I write about how important it is for midwives to support each other when life hands us tragedy? Poor Jenny. Do I inform about agoraphobia or Meniere’s Disease of the middle ear? Bravo to wounded but brave souls. Shelagh’s struggle with infertility is certainly a worthy topic. Perhaps my more academic-minded blog partner, Katie Moriarty will tackle those important themes. But me ...

No, not today. Although a relatively small part of this week’s episode, what spoke to me and my experience was Sister Winifred’s struggle with her role as midwife. Is there a midwife out there who hasn’t, at some point in her career, thought to herself; “What was I thinking?!” Certainly as a new midwife, I struggled with the enormity of the responsibility, decision making and intensity that accompanied each birth. More than once I considered that I may have made the wrong career choice. During midwifery school I had the safety net of an experienced midwife to tell me what to do. But it was only after many many births as the sole midwife in the room that I was able to catch a baby without a racing heart and trembling hands. Only after I had more experience and confidence was I able to take in the beauty of the moment and truly love my job.

And during this episode, It was only after Jenny left the room, that Sister Winifred was compelled to rely on her training and effectively do what she needed to do. The reward for doing so was her great satisfaction of being enveloped in that magical moment of healthy baby and mother born and a family cemented.

Ahh yes. What was I thinking? What is any midwife thinking when she signs up for long hours, hard work, sometimes unhappy outcomes? I was thinking that I wanted to make a difference. I was thinking I am smart enough, educated enough and capable of making skilled decisions. I was thinking how lovely it is to go to work and see miracles happen and be part of that miracle. And that is what Sister Winifred was thinking as she grabbed her bag and happily trotted off to her next birth at the end of the episode.

As always I welcome your comments about this entry, the episode or your experience with midwifery in general.

Deborah McBain (CNM, MS, BSN, RN) Deborah McBain (CNM, MS, BSN, RN) is a nurse-midwife who has practiced in Metro Detroit for nearly 20 years. McBain received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Science from Wayne State University-Detroit, Master’s Degree from the Case Western University-Cleveland and midwifery education through Frontier Nursing Service.
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