Bit of a long post this one but couldn’t really cut it down so bear with me.
Ok, so first things first before I get a barrage of abusive emails/comments from midwifes, I’m not talking about the whole profession, I think you do an amazing job, however, I wasn’t a huge fan of our community midwife, I got a distinct impression that she really hated men, wasn’t sure if this was all men, or just me in particular. Either way, every appointment that I attended she would basically just ignore I was there. I know the appointments weren’t for me and I wasn’t expecting my heart rate to be taken or my stomach measured but just some politeness would’ve been lovely. Given it was our first baby, we got very little information from the midwifes, yes they would answer our questions but it all just felt very pointless and as long as we attended and ticked the right boxes, we’d be on our way in minutes. My expectations were maybe too high, but Im guessing midwifes, just like social workers are an under staffed and over worked profession but I was left feeling disappointed. One of my mates has a sister who is training to be a midwife; I think she is in her final year. I spoke to her over Christmas and she specifically asked me how I found the whole ‘midwife/labour experience’, it’s a topic that particularly interests her and one which she is looking to do her dissertation on. We had a very interesting discussion, albeit I’d had a few ciders but we both shared the view that it’s a very odd time for a man, for pretty much the whole 9 months, I felt completely helpless. I struggled with not been in control, or able to help. Now….before you think I’m a crazy controlling bloke, I’m really not, but when my OH is in pain, unsure or just upset. I have typically been able to help or at least make her laugh. I found myself feeling quite lost, unhelpful and isolated. Im not under any circumstances looking for any sympathy, because let’s face it; us blokes get it pretty easy. We have our 30 seconds of fun, and then kick back for 9 months while the OH does all the work. However it’s not all plane sailing for us, I suppose all I really wanted from the midwife was acknowledgement that I existed and was actually involved…..
I googled ‘pregnancy and labour support for men’ and in typical google fashion, it delivered 9.3million results, interestingly these were the first 3 results;
This perhaps illustrates my point perfectly, admittedly I haven’t read the articles but the title in each of the top 3 results all make a specific reference to how to support your OH, and yes I know this is massively important and should be the number 1 priority during this time. I just feel like, if I was actually googling this, I would want to see a result that pops up saying ‘Blokes…..be prepared, it’s scary’. Not exactly a headline grabbing title, but you get the gist.
Now take a breath, its onto the labour……When people asked my OH how the labour was, I would jump in and say “it was horrendous and the worst experience of my life”, people would often respond with some arsey comment that it’s ok for the men, you don’t do anything or I just get a stare of hatred. Now I don’t make a habit of butting in on conversations, and I wasn’t intentionally trying to be rude, but my OH can’t remember big chunks of the labour, as she was high as a kite on a concoction of drugs. For me, I remember every single thing, smell and emotion; seeing her in pain and discomfort for 27hrs was horrible, I hated every single second, I felt completely helpless and at times frustrated. I’ve already made my thoughts on the community midwife known and the hospital ones did little to improve my opinion on the profession, we had about 6 different midwifes during the course of the 27hrs hours in hospital. Some were ok, but the majority were pretty poor if I’m honest. Lacking any social skills and at times patronising. We had 1 who walked in, wrote some notes and walked off, it transpired afterwards that she had written in the notes that my OH had refused to go home and requested to stay in hospital. This was a complete load of bollocks and something neither of us had said, we would’ve jumped at the opportunity to go home if it was safe to do so. We were left for a 10hr period without seeing anyone and my OH without any pain relive. I tried on numerous occasions to be seen, but was told “they had emergencies to deal with”…….. This line was used regularly throughout our time in hospital and it slowly but surely began to grate on me. It felt that everyone was accepting we weren’t getting the best care and this was their excuse and justification for it. Now I appreciate that maternity wards can be overrun at times but making patients feel like they have been forgotten about, wasn’t the type of care we expected. I eventually asked them to stop talking about their emergencies, I may have been rather stern with my request and it may have went along the lines of “I don’t give a toss about your emergencies” but my concern at that time was my OH and safe delivery of my baby.
All drama, pain and concern eventually came to an end, after 27 long hours in hospital, it wasn’t as straight forward at we’d of liked and there were complications along the way, which I won’t go into. For someone who weighed only 6lb1oz, she took an almighty effort from my OH to get her out. I don’t know about her, but I was shattered.