Isn’t it funny how, when we put some-one on a pedestal, we forget that they have feelings, just like us? I’ve just read an interview with Mary Cronk in the Doula UK newsletter. Mary is a pioneer in empowering mothers and midwives, and making advances in the routine de-medicalisation of childbirth. As such, I imagine her to be strong and fearless. She had a part to play in changing protocol for “giving” episiotomies. They were always enforced (along with your pubic shave and enema) and Mary, along with other midwives, began to question this practice. They found ways around it, such as “dropping” the scissors moments before incision. However, one day, instead of dropping the scissors, she told the doctor that she wasn’t going to perform an episiotomy unless there was a medical need. Simple. Great. Why don’t more midwives do that? Well, it isn’t that simple. Going against medical authority is not easy. Going against institutional doctrine is not easy. Let’s face it, sometimes, just saying “no thanks” to a friend isn’t easy – never mind saying what Mary said. The part of the interview that surprised me, is when she says that afterwards, she “burst into tears and thought the heavens would fall. I never forget that day. I can still feel the fear”. Bless her for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Other midwives followed her example, and said “if Mary Cronk does not have to do it, neither do we”.
Why was I surprised that she had been so fearful? I think it’s because, as I said, I had Mary on a pedestal. And in being up there, she was everything I’m not. I kind of thought I was inadequate for feeling scared at the prospect of questioning a doctor or midwife (something I have to understand and work through in my role as a birth doula). So it hadn’t occured to me that some-one as awe-inspiring as Mary would shake at the prospect. Of course she would. She is human, she feels the fear, but she cares enough about babies, mums and dads to do it anyway. The more human she becomes, the higher up that pedestal she belongs, in my opinion. What a hero!