Statistically, 10% of all babies need a little kick-start in their transition from womb to world. About 1% of that 10% need extensive measures to get things running the way they should. In my experience, this has been true--roughly 4 out of about my 30-35 births have needed help, ranging from most just needing a good more-than-normal suctioning or a puff or two of air to one requiring full CPR efforts. I don't mention the cold, hard facts to get anyone anxious, but to let people know that sometimes these things happen.... and midwives (and their birth assistants) have to be prepared to react to them as we would if we were in the hospital.
In the beginning of the day, we reviewed all of the skills that we had already been taught by our required reading and pre-testing. Our group was comprised of one midwife, two midwife apprentices, a doula in the beginning stages of midwifery apprenticeship, and ME--the doula who has no desire to become a midwife, but likes working with one. It was a difficult class because I wasn't going into the class thinking, "Wow, I hope I never have to use this stuff." Really, my heart was pounding the whole time because I know the question is not if I will have to use this knowledge, it's when.
The second half of the day we were joined by local midwives and apprentices who were needing to renew their certifications. Near the end, before our megacode testing, we watched a small simulated clip in which an actress and actor are saying good-bye to their extremely premature [plastic] child. When the movie was finished, I glanced around the room to see many in the room crying. Several women in the room were shifting uneasily in their chairs or rubbing their forehands in their hands because they were suddenly remembering. They were remembering their 1%--especially the small percentage of that 1% who needed more than sometimes anyone anywhere could give. They were sitting in a cold conference room replaying in their minds every measure they took to help, every would'vecould'veshould've. In refreshing these skills, their hearts re-break for probably the hundredth time.
I didn't intend to write this blog entry as a major downer, but more of a perspective that care providers--doctors, midwives, nurses, apprentices, doulas-who-don't-want-to-be-midwives, etc.--hold these moments we share with expectant families in our hearts. Ninety-nine percent of the time all is well. Very, very rarely it is not... But we remember and we replay. What a sobering day and series of thoughts to have to consider. It makes even the most annoying of the usual annoyances of daily living kind of pale in comparison.