I see these sorts of comments all the time – “My OB suggested VBAC so he’s obviously supportive” or “I’m so pleased they are going to let me try and VBAC…It’s nice to have that support”. Well…I would like to discuss what real support looks like or rather what it doesn’t look like…through the age old art of story telling.
Not too long after my second child was born I told my partner that I would really like to become a birth worker. I felt that it was something that I really needed to do. He said that it sounded like a great idea. He said he’d been thinking about it and what would I think of becoming a Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner? Well…what would I think of that? A man who suggests that must be the best thing since sliced bread. Not only was I going to make a huge career change, but I had my partner’s full support to do so!
I registered with the doula training people and put my name down to do the Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner training. I started studying and working. I attended my first certifying birth. I attended the Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner training webinar. My partner kept asking how my studies were going and when did I think I’d be ready to run classes and we discussed business ideas.
And now we have started to get to the pointy end of things. I’m trying to finish up the final parts of my assessment. Trying to get my second certifying birth. Trying to set up a website. Trying to get myself “out there” by writing articles and sharing them. Trying to write promotional material. Trying to finish my practice sessions. I booked my second certifying birth and discovered that being on-call wouldn’t work for us. When I said this my partner advised that “I never liked the doula side of things. Too much work and emotional investment for too little money”. Erm…okay.
A few days later he had a go at me for spending too much time in the study and “neglecting” the children. “The children must come first”. So I started looking into the possibility of getting a little help with the kids so that I can finish everything, start working and feel like I am actually achieving something in my work. I started spending more time at night working and less sleeping. I’m starting to feel a little like I’m losing the plot, but it was all okay, because I figured I’d have a little help soon. Wouldn’t I? I mentioned that I was looking for someone to help with the kids and was blown down with a very definite – “We can’t afford it at all. Don’t bother”.
A few days after that I got some quotes back on getting my website done and nearly fainted. My partner suggested that I put together my website myself and I nearly lost it!! Apparently I’m already spending too much time working and he wants me to learn a whole new skill and build my own bloody website?! This was followed up with: “Or just don’t have one, you’ve got a facebook page”. To say that I am presently feeling like my goals are not being supported is an understatement. It turns out that my partner obviously had no idea what type of support I would need in order to feel supported, and once he found out that it meant he needed to actually do things and maybe put his money where his mouth was he decided that he wasn’t so supportive after all.
So we have a situation where my partner was VERY supportive of my plans…right up until the moment I NEEDED him to show that support. This is a situation I see translated into birth a lot. The VBAC supportive OB suggesting an induction or RCS at 41 weeks, or because of a suspected “big baby”. The VBAC supportive OB who doesn’t allow women to labour and birth unhindered. The VBAC supportive OB who requires you to have CFM and a cannula “just in case”. The VBAC supportive hospital that will support your birth plan right up until the moment it’s about to be implemented and then change their minds. My own hospital told me they would support me holding off induction until 43 weeks…At 42+4 my midwife advised that she would not support me waiting any longer and called in the head of midwifery and a senior OB to try and bully me into an induction.
The lesson to be taken from this: Don’t just ask “Will you support this”. It’s really easy for someone to just say “sure we’ll support you” without really putting any thought into it. Work out what type of support you need. What does “support” look like to you? Tell your care provider: These are my goals and how will you support me to achieve them? And then see if it matches up to what you want and need. And do this early – Because it sucks to find out that the rug has been pulled out from under you…Just as you are trying to finish your final piece of assessment!