This last couple of weeks has really challenged my plan to Rise Above. I hoped to follow this advice:
Whether it comes from Lao Tzu or not, it sounds smart. But, it seems like the world is conspiring to bring me to my knees. This week was “one of those weeks”. I have been sick, like, not dying sick, but substantially affected by a nasty bunch of bugs that wanted me to stop doing anything but resting. This required me to STOP for a minute (or a week) and take my medicine like a big girl. I really struggle with accepting that the world will tick along without my brilliance, but, it does. So I took some sick leave (after the second time the doctor told me too) and am now nearly all better.
Speaking of Obama, last week was also the first presidential debate of the US elections. This has fed into our laptops, tablets and mobile phones a direct stream of data-chewingly, terrifyingly, real hilarity: and fear.
Like seriously guys, even after Brexit, this is actually happening. Trump is a for real candidate. He is actually being taken seriously, no matter how much we may prefer to disbelieve it. The comment sections (I know, don’t read the comments, but still, have you read the comments????) of even Kiwi publications show a bunch of people seriously think voting for this guy is in not only American, but the whole WORLD’S best interests! There are people who live in our fine country who wish they could vote for him….. Though this situation does, as I say, offer some moments of monumental amusement, it also absolutely has to make us question the direction this world is taking. The fact that to be a contender in this debate, all he had to do was “not mess up” while his opponent is expected to be perfect, and explain how exactly she will lead whilst in possession of a vagina, and make sure she never gets sick, despite an enviable litany of qualifications is kinda terrifying.
The gross sexism of Hillary being a lesser candidate because of her vagina aside, NZ has been having it’s own field day with attacks on women. In this instance, the media is having a field day with a newly released piece of research about obstetric led vs midwifery led care, which is a good beginning towards looking at how we could further improve the maternity care of women in this country. It is third level ( evidence that warrants further research into what could be causing a slight increase in rare neonatal outcomes within the publicly funded model of care, which involves LMC midwives and DHB employed obstetric teams. The research didn’t look at who was involved in care, only at the registered care provider, which is what needs to be looked at next to identify whythis happens, if these outcomes are indeed occurring.The lead researcher pointed out that overall, outcomes for mothers and babies are improved under midwifery led care, and that our countries maternity system has excellent outcomes when compared to other nations. The MOH says they are going to look into women’s access to hospitals and specialists…. But the headlines say something quite different.
Of course, there have been some brilliant responses, all of which were based on scientific critique and rational discussion of the issues raised.
But the mainstream media follow up was this:
Now, I have already had to write this post once, so if you want a breakdown of why this research article doesn’t say what the media says it does, then maybe you should read one of them there links above, or refer back to My piece on witch hunts from around this time last year. Clearly, despite my best efforts, the editor of the NZ Herald (or is it Buzz Feed? It is really hard to tell them apart, these days…) hasn’t done a class on the interpretation of scientific research.
I am not going to try again to critique the piece, but instead, I am going to speak to how hard it is for midwives to constantly “be the bigger person” in the face of relentless attacks on our character, qualifications and professional ability. We are assassinated in the media and most especially in the comments section. Anyone rising to our defense is shot down, and no professional commentary makes it to the mainstream media. We are left once again to provide effective care to women, for minimal pay, while being slandered and attacked on every level. According to the comments section, we are at best, hippies: we are crunchy, we are “antivax”, we are “nice enough people” but basically inept.
But worse, we are accused of being awful human beings, intentionally causing harm for big fat pay packets (
Never mind our fight for pay parity, we are clearly over paid). We are, in these commentator’s eyes, purposefully striding through life, ignoring medical emergencies and seeking glory ( Don’t mention the stringent recertification process we follow, or the multiple lives we save). We force women to endure agonizing pain for our own odious joy, force them to accede to our wishes regardless of their own desires and genuinely think we are better than anyone else ( Just ignore all the costs to the health dollar of epidurals and caesareans on demand, never mind the risks to mothers of the same). We are killers, merciless and evil. We are bad people.
This makes Rising Above hard. Not defending ourselves is painful. We are angry. We are righteous. We are women. We are Tired. Of. This.
I am not going to attack these people. People who hate midwives have their reasons. They know part of a story, probably an incredibly sad one. They need someone to blame, someone to hold responsible, someone to give them an accounting of what happened to them. More often than not, when things go wrong in maternity, we are all involved. Midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, nurses, probably even some managers. But, we, us midwives, we are the public face of the front line of the service. So we bear the attacks. Our professional body asks us to ride the storm, continue our care of women, and Rise Above.
Because Women deserve good care. And attacks like this on our profession, which is by far the most accessible option to most women, just causes fear and worry for them. The women who are making the babies in their bodies. They do not need any additional worries. They need to be able to trust us. They need us to be professional, grown up and responsible. So I will not attack. I will not fight back. I will, on behalf of the women who have trusted me, and those who continue to trust me, do the right thing. I will build up my profession, tell my colleagues they are awesome, manage the only behaviour I have control over (My own) and try hard to stay in a space where I speak positively, or don’t speak. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I won’t speak my mind. I will just make sure I speak it in a positive way.
In addition to being a midwife, and a human being and a woman, and having a grander version of the flu, I also have had a lot going on in my family this week. Children coming home, needing help, needing support, providing challenges, needing love. Having to take a hard line, impose boundaries, say no, do the harder thing than just dropping and running when they call. We have a three year old here at the moment, and I LOVE him, but he has reminded me of a few things. The biggest one being that you can’t fight every fight, let alone win them all. Sometimes, you just have to let it go, and hope that things work out OK. That goes for three year olds, grown ups, colleagues, children, family, friends, media…. the whole works. Sometimes, you have to listen to you inner understanding of what matters in this moment, and just stick to that.
So I am Rising. The Fuck. Above. Feel free to join me.