A bit of self-disclosure here: I hate pelvic exams. Before coming to midwifery school I had only ever had one. And for an, ahem, 26-year-old woman I should have had several more than that regardless of the fact that I don’t sleep with men. Sure, I was the one who pushed her friends to go get their own pelvic exams and talked them through how it wasn’t that bad. Told them how important it was. And was terrified myself for all sorts of hard and personal reasons (but then isn’t that always the case?).
So when we started performing pelvic exams on each other, I was not super thrilled. Oh, I was excited about learning to perform them. I think I did pretty good the first time and I’m still improving. I’m happy about getting in as much practice as possible. But I have not been excited about offering my body as a pelvic model. It’s pushed some buttons deep within me, it’s required a LOT of processing and inner work. It’s required, if you will, constant vigilance(!) about what shit this was all bringing up for me and how I was dealing with it (er, or not dealing with it) with my classmates and my loved ones.
Which leads me to say that I have nothing but deep deep gratitude and awe at my fellow students. Gratitude for the gentle and loving ways in which they have practiced their own skills and guided me through the exams. Awe that they are so talented and accomplished despite our very short time in school. It seems every time I have another exam I am treated with even more gentleness than the time before. I leave feeling more whole because I was listened to, because I knew that I had every right to stop the exam at any point (and several times I have) for any reason at all. It’s the act of creating a container to hold the space that is so crucial to my ability to be a willing participant in pelvic exams.
These are incredible women that I am learning with and I feel honored to be on this journey with them. All in all this is such an important lesson for me, especially the parts that are difficult and emotional. Every second of it is preparing me to be a better midwife – more aware of and sensitive to the needs of my clients and better able to serve having learned how to create a loving, gentle container to hold women within.