I strongly believe that once a woman gives birth under her own power, there is an incredible opportunity that opens up for her empowerment. She ideally walks away from that experience knowing that she can do anything if she can birth her own baby.
Which is to say in a smaller way that’s what venipuncture has unexpectedly been for me. No, the power to perform venipuncture is nothing near the power to give birth. I’m well aware of that. But it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been terrified of it. I know that as a midwifery student I’ll have to learn all sorts of manual skills – venipuncture, pelvic exams, breast exams, catheterization, etc. Really, nothing at all worried me like venipuncture. The thought of sticking a needle into someone else’s arm – yikes!
So yesterday the venipuncture portion of class came and went. And I put a needle into my classmate’s arm. I’ll admit, I didn’t draw blood (her veins were smart and shy), but I did stick a needle in her arm and, with my instructor’s urgings and her promises that “it doesn’t hurt, really,” I even fished around in her arm for a good minute or so. However, there is something about the act of having done that, of having bridged the gap through the skin into someone else’s body and of having done the one thing I really didn’t want to do if I could help it – fish around in someone else’s arm, that is – I don’t feel afraid anymore. I am actually pretty raring to go for the next time we get to practice this skill. I feel confident I’ll “get blood” as we said in class and also am happy that I won’t be as timid or shy about it.
I keep thinking about the type of midwife I want to be – calm, down-to-earth, efficient regarding the difficult stuff, a good listener and facilitator, and a provider of warm, thorough, and honest healthcare for my clients. I keep thinking about how I can work these qualities into my hands-on skills like venipuncture. I also keep thinking about my rock awesome midwife friend R. who decided that to be a good midwife, she needed to be comfortable with venipuncture and to make it easy for her clients. So what did she do? She went to work in a lab until she could do it in her sleep (well, not exactly but you know what I mean). I can’t tell you how much I admire that decision. It tells me so much about the type of midwife she is. What decisions will I make that will tell people about the type of midwife I will be?
And the best part? Those other skills (like putting a catheter into someone’s urethra, yikes!) don’t seem scary at all anymore. Just another routine part of learning to be a midwife. I feel right now like I could do just about anything.