Updated: Mar 14
A great thing about writing is how much it makes you reflect on the moments you’re sharing. I’ve played Simon's birth over and over in my head this week and have really put a lot of thought into what we’ve learned about ourselves through the experience.
One of the things I’d like to highlight from part one of Simons birth: It was the first time Christina and I really confronted any kind of serious discussion that involved a lot of tension. The big decisions in front of us created difficult moments for us to face head-on as a young couple. However, they also provided us the opportunity to stack some wins together that created a strong foundation. When times get hard we can always look back on issues overcome as a team.
Simon’s breech positioning right before birth concerned all those that were close enough with us to know about the situation. Almost everyone we knew offered advice. That advice was to just listen to a doctor Christina had been extremely uncomfortable with from the beginning, to book a C-section and get to the hospital/ get it done.
Male doctors and their dominance in maternity.
Throughout our marriage there have been a handful of times where Christina has undergone an internal exam. Three of them from male doctors and one from a female doctor. Only one of them was done with the gentleness and understanding required for such a task. (Can you guess which one!?) It’s made me wonder if male doctors are sometimes intentionally not very gentle out of the concern of potential sexual harassment allegations. Licenses they’ve worked so diligently for can being taken away. It's such an uncomfortable issue with so much room for awkwardness. It’s made me wonder why there are males that chose the field of gynecology at all.
Procedures as personal as internal exams require trust. Trust requires communication. Communication requires time.
These trains of thought have always led us as a couple to looking first to midwives, doulas, and female obstetricians. Unfortunately, in many regions female practitioners are either in too high demand to find or are simply non-existent. At the time of our first pregnancy, we were in Saskatchewan and there was a very limited midwifery program. The whole home birth thing was a little bit of a movement brewing underground. Doulas we spoke to knew of a couple of midwives from other areas that would “assist births” at home so as long as their names were never mentioned or reported as present during the birth. This was out of fears of the legal repercussions if a child was lost during the process. Meanwhile, the male doctors we met with seemed to have a set way of doing things and did not have the time available to listen enough to create an environment of trust.
For young women, especially any that have had past traumas involving male figures, this approach to treatment can be very scary.
It's a complex issue. Patient per doctor ratios are really high here in Canada. Every check-up may only be 10 minutes of one on one doctor time but each visit and issue discussed adds huge amounts of paperwork to the practitioners' workload. In my view, the solution boils down to having the time to show humanity, to establish a connection and professional relationship. It's kind of a running theme within my writing. The stronger our personal relationships can be, the healthier the community will get as a whole.
I believe there is an enormous amount of value to the opinions of any professional, regardless of their sex, that has experienced different scenarios and witnessed the outcomes. What made this different for us in this situation was the unwillingness to even have a conversation about her concerns. Interestingly, in each moment I found myself initially siding with the male doctor’s opinion! It was only when I allowed myself the time to take a deep breath and listen to where Christina was coming from that I realized how programmed I was.
If a woman was giving me advice on how to use my equipment during a potentially dangerous procedure, I would want my voice heard and questions respectfully addressed too!
Comments and healthy discussion is appreciated!
This post was much more about observations made and lessons learned from Simon's birth and not so much about the actual events. Stay tuned to find out more about how it played out!