Sunday, April 19, 2009

The wrap-up post

This is the wrap-up post for the Vanuatu trip. You know, the post I never wrote, and now feel the need to include in my blog, here a month and a half after my return. The one where I muse on all things going-overseas-for-clinical-rotations.

I'm still not going to do it, not really anyway. If you want to know what it is like, read the rest of the saga, it is fairly complete.

You should also read T's blog, which is fairly complete as well, and has more pictures than mine:

Her experiences coincide with mine, but many times we were either not present for each other or were solidly sitting in separate roles even while at the same birth.

I would do it a again. I gained so much from this.

I don't feel bad about invading someone else's culture/space/whatever, an objection that I understand but didn't see as some big deal here. I didn't go as someone totally clueless, to make mistakes; I went as someone almost ready to start up independently here at home, in need of experience, and I gave good care in a place where it was very much needed and appreciated. Neither did I go to change how things were done, to be some sort of know-it-all rescuer or some stupid shit like that. I went to learn, to experience, to participate. And I did.

The women at the maternity ward there do amazing things with the cast-off and donated equipment - much of what is donated having been used for years before arriving in Vila.

I met some infuriating people. Some exceptional people. And many, many beautiful laboring women and their families.

It all seems like some sort of alternate reality, now, back in my own midwifery-USA world, back to the grind with my family in tow. On call all the time, driving insane distances to clinic and births, and over-thinking everything. Working with women who are taking for granted that babies are going to come out alive and healthy, who are living under the expectation that we are capable of stopping the horrible extremes. Who hire us to prevent something that we might not be able to prevent. THAT is the big burden of midwifery. THAT is why we often intervene too much, why we transport for anything that raises risk the slightest little bit, no matter how small that magnitude. I'm not sure that we're always safeguarding women and their babies when we act the way we do. I think we're often safeguarding the expectation that we're safeguarding the women and their babies.

Which is, oddly enough, not to say that we do anything wrong, really. Just that we are perhaps bringing an energy into this whole thing that isn't as much about keeping women safe as it is about keeping the image of safety safe.

This was perhaps not the morning to write this, with the kids yelling in the background and the caffeine and sugar from my morning coffee unalloyed by protein to keep the shakes at bay...but I'm not finding a good time, so it just had to get written and placed in the past where it belongs, so that it can gather some perspective.