I’m writing this particular post, because M. thought that it would be a good idea (yep, she’s reading what I write too!). I wrote in another post about my feelings regarding the midwife we had during the visits we had to her and she to us. It might be fair though to actually balance this stuff up.
If you happen to have been born male and encounter a midwife professionally, you’re pretty likely to be second class. You’re not essential for the birth, you can’t get pregnant, you can’t give milk. Our particular midwife, and I’ve talked to another dad from the course and he agrees, regarded us as some form of persona non grata who needed to be tolerated but nothing more. Indeed, for her, natural birth was the best thing that could happen to a woman. When some, including M., went for a c.section, that wasn’t exactly greeted with jubilation (although, in our case, there was no other option).
I was also sent away many times (in the last session before the birth, I was told to go into town for 30 minutes) and, here at Sunshine HQ, was often completely ignored and sent away, even though it was my own home!
She had quite fixed ideas about how to care for newborns (care will be dealt with in another post!), many of which were ignored by the other mothers in the group (who met outside of the sessions – my spies always reported back to me!). She also got quite a few symptoms quite simply wrong, including one which sent us scurrying off to the gynaecologist on a wild goose chase (and incurring the appropriate fees!).
Now on to the positives:
She WAS very supportive to M.. When we got back from the hospital and M. realised that Sunshine wasn’t feeding properly, the midwife came up with the idea of little silicone caps to aid “docking”, which worked like a dream. She talked M. through many of the stages of development in Sunshine’s early weeks.
She taught us how to bathe him, explained proper care, and also looked after the stump of his umbilical cord. She was the person who told us that Sunshine was going through his first growth spurt and also explained to us what it was. This calmed us down considerably, once we understood that it was all perfectly natural. She also weighed him, reassuring us that he was indeed putting on weight (after signs to the contrary, of which more in a moment). She also came on public holidays (including the evening of New Year’s Eve), which was service indeed. So hats off to her for that.
I won’t deny that it was great when the last visit came, as it was like setting us free to care for Sunshine on our own. I had become fed up with her ways (I wasn’t the only one), but hey, that’s normal. Remember that we men can’t do much at first anyway. However, with hindsight, I would say that it was good THAT she came, as we would have been totally lost without her.
OK, so what was it that caused the confusion? One-word answer: nurses!
At the hospital, where M. was a patient between 28th and 31st December, M. was slowly going round the bend, as each shift of nurses told her something different. They were clearly at loggerheads with the midwifing profession and were somewhat quicker to decide and categorise. Of course, we were still trying to come to terms with our new situation and were thus completely lost. We took solace in one nurse who did seem to know her stuff, although some of that turned out to be wrong, we later found out.
After his birth, Sunshine was pretty sleepy. Hey, that’s hardly a surprise. He had been happily floating around in his private swimming pool and suddenly, a lot of light appears and he’s plucked out, made to breathe on his own and is surrounded by people and sounds. Not a lot of fun. As such, he needed time to relax (newborns take between 24 and 48 hrs. to “wake up”).
However, according to the nurses, that was a problem. He wasn’t feeding and, as such, his weight was dropping. M. wasn’t yet producing a lot of milk (it takes a couple of days for the system to start functioning properly) and Sunshine was being fed droplets of the stuff through a syringe. Suddenly, alarms were being sounded that he was too weak to feed.
Just one cotton-pickin’ minute! Babies are considered at risk if they lose 10% of their birth weight. Sunshine was 2,820 grammes, meaning he would have to lose 282 grammes (or be 2,538 grammes) to be at risk. But he only went down to about 2,630, much of which was spewing out blood and amniotic fluid. So where was the problem? Surely, we don’t need to have ourselves scared out of our wits. We thought M. wouldn’t be able to breast-feed, even rented a milk pump (not a cheap business) from the hospital, only to find, on seeing the midwife, that the silicone caps were all that were needed. Sunshine put on weight, slowly at first, then with increasing speed, and is now slap in the middle of the growth chart (actually ON the 50th percentile, meaning he is exactly “average”).
So who’s right? Simple: you are, with a bit of common sense. And this is where we men come in. Read up in advance, the Internet offers a wealth of information (some good, some contradictory). Don’t go in and think you know best. You don’t. But what you DO know is what is best for YOU. You’ll be spending the rest of your life in contact with this human being. Offer support, do what works, drop what doesn’t. You’ll find workarounds, temporary solutions or brainwaves that will give you peace and quiet.
Remember, each human being is different (and thus so is each baby) – there is NO patent solution (much as we men would like one). Keep calm, take one day at a time. You’re going to learn a lot!