Hello folks! This is just a quick note to thank you everyone who has been rooting for me this whole time. I found out late last week that I passed the NARM!!!!
The next hurdle to get over is getting licensed in California. Just money and time at this point, barring anything completely unexpected.
My graduation speech was recently published in the Giving Birth to Midwives Newsletter published by Association of Midwifery Educators. (It also got published here and discussed here by my lovely friend Sky Connelly on the AROMidwifery blog, which I neglected to tell you about.) In addition to my article, there are other absolutely fabulous articles about racism and midwifery education. It is well worth your time to go check it out.
As I’ve been here in Austin, I feel like a subtle but important shift is taking place. I feel like I have moved into the realm of being a student midwife instead of the midwifery student I was before. While up at Birthwise in Maine I definitely felt like I was a student of midwifery, and even though I was heavily involved in the practice I had my clinical rotations at, felt much more like a midwifery student than a student midwife. Down here in Austin, I am working in a practice full-time and things have shifted slightly.
On some level, it still feels like I’m arriving in Austin just like I’m arriving at the role of student midwife. The change is not yet complete. Even though we’ve been here since the end of March (!!!), when people ask me how things are going in Austin I invariably tell them I’m settling in. That’s how I feel with the role of student midwife. I’ve come to Austin, I’ve begun with this practice, I’m here, but I’m still stepping into my full role. It’s exciting and I think there are great things in store for me. But I’m actively building my confidence, participating actively, offering advice and sharing my knowledge as appropriate. It’s amazing to look a little bit into the future and try to guess what I will feel like or what my skill level will be in a years time when I will supposedly graduate from Birthwise and set out on the journey of beginning to practice as a full-fledged midwife. Yesterday in an appointment, my midwife described me as just finishing up the end of my training with this practice. Which I suppose is true. I’ll be here until my numbers are complete and I’m ready to take the NARM exam. Describing myself as a student midwife seems much more like I’m almost a midwife than when I use the words midwifery student. I am stepping up to the plate and acting as a student midwife instead of sitting in a classroom and doing the book-learning portion of my education.
All in all, it’s very exciting to be in this transitory time.
Today we finished our last day of classes for the first semester of our second year. Two days of finals coming up and then I’m done, at least for a little bit. The only thing that lies between now and my full time preceptorship (more on that later, very exciting!) is a short semester and a fairly involved independent research paper (also more on that later) and a presentation to the local community. Barely more than 2 months left of my formal didactic training and it’s a little unnerving that we’ll be flying the nest so soon.
However, right now it’s finals, which is always stressful no matter how many years you’ve been doing this. And even if you’re not in school, you might need a bit of a smile. So I bring for your viewing enjoyment (drum roll please!) da da dum: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On! Always makes me laugh and feel warm and fuzzy inside. I’ll catch up with you all on the other side of finals.
Recently, I was asked to teach the diversity course to the first year students at my midwifery school. I was completely surprised and honored to be asked to do so. At my school, the diversity class is a brief 3-hour seminar. That, coupled with one other brief seminar on cultural competency in the second year is the full extent of time we spend talking and thinking about anything that amounts to reproductive justice in my book. It is the only time we have to explore and examine providing birth services to folks who are not White, middle or upper class, straight, Christian, able-bodied, English-speaking, American citizens (etc. etc. etc.) clients. It is something I think homebirth midwives on the whole do not talk enough about, but that’s a whole other post meant for another day. However, I do think it’s crucial to give all midwifery students a good basic understanding of the issues at play here and some tools to keep exploring.
As far as I could tell, the class went over fairly well. It definitely was a good learning ground for myself and how I might design future trainings. I started the class by telling the students that I hoped they walked out of the class with their interest piqued, curious to learn more. Basically, we talked about the meanings of prejudice and oppression, broke down the ways in which oppression is systemic, and then talked about the ways in which we can change things, both on an individual and a systemic level. There’s not a whole lot you can learn about anti-oppression work and reproductive justice in 3 hours, so I viewed this as just the tippy tippy top of the iceberg. My hope was that if I gave them just a taste that they would go home wanting more and delve into more learning on their own.
The next exciting part of this story is that just today I volunteered to offer this training to my class and it looks like it might be offered to local midwives who are interested as well. This seems like a good place for me to get started and hopefully keep talking to folks about these issues. My hope is that some more awareness of anti-racism, anti-oppression, and reproductive justice work can truly transform midwifery.
And we’re back to another school year, my last year of classes in midwifery school incidentally. I’ll be taking classes until mid-March and then it’s off to an apprenticeship in some fabulous as-yet-unknown far off place. So far, busy is an adjective that is too mild to describe my past few weeks.
I returned from a fabulous, much anticipated and much needed vacation to a visit from my incredible sister, R. We had a fantastic time, and then school started right in the middle of things. Right now I have school, work, my clinical rotation, and a new Hypnobirthing class I have just begun sitting in on. Next, I need to add some volunteer hours and I should be well on my way to a full schedule.
I’m feeling good and happy about this new year. More confident as a person and as a student midwife, and like a sponge ready to suck up all of this new knowledge. Last year gave me an excellent foundation to stand on and now we’re adding building blocks to everything. While I felt like I struggled to memorize basic concepts and timelines (what week is it that the eyelids unfuse, the fingerprints form, the heart starts to beat, I asked myself again and again) during last fall, this year I feel like I am moving ahead leaps and bounds in terms of being able to understand, process, and put to use information. It feels good and very exciting.
I attended my very first prenatal appointment today! It was really wonderful. I even got to practice some skills – taking blood pressure and palpating her uterus. Overall, it was an incredible reinforcement that this is absolutely what I want to be doing with my life.
I don’t think I stopped smiling all day. Organizing and filing charts, making sure charts are complete, putting together gift bags for the new mamas, making homeopathic medicine. I beamed the whole way home. What a fantastic day! I can’t wait for next week when I can go back and do it all again.
This pretty much sums it up for me right now.
We have been having some incredible and not to be missed quotes flying around Birthwise lately. Too good to pass up and not share some of them with you.
Starting with “put your puss in the sun,”oft repeated advice on how to heal your perineum after receiving sutures, tears, skid marks, or an episiotomy.
My class was reminded earnestly today that “we’re on the fringe. I hope you all know that.” Just in case some of us weren’t paying attention.
Which I guess follows the next anecdote (and my personal favorite) which is to let you know that midwives are like pirates – we do hard and dirty work for very little pay, but at the end of the day we still get to tell people we’re midwives/pirates, which is really cool. Maybe I’ll just decide to be a pirate in the end – it was my first love after all.
A new yoni!
I am now the proud owner of a brand new Wondrous Vulva Puppet. My friend E. who is currently down in Peru happens to know the woman who makes these incredible puppets.
My personal new vulva comes complete with labia majora made out of a traditional Peruvian fabric, a beautiful pink rosebud where there urethra sits (complete with leaves of course), and very cleverly placed ridge of fabric inside the vaginal opening for the urethral sponge/G-spot.
What a great present for a midwifery student! I can’t wait to show her off to all of my friends.
The other night I dreamt I was pregnant and laboring. With twins, actually. I remember specifically when my water broke, because I then suffered from severe dream-induced oligohydramnios, I remember specifically talking with my midwife about the timing and intensity of my contractions, and when I transitioned from pre-labor to active labor (as if that’s possible to tell someone exactly) and then worrying afterwards whether I had given her the exact correct information or whether I had messed up the timing of contractions and cervical dilation for when someone transitions into active labor. I remember considering checking my own cervical dilation but deciding not to because I was so busy, and going for long walks to bring the babies down. I remember frequently performing Leopold’s Maneuvers on myself to check the position of the babies worrying that with one transverse twin, I might only get to vaginally deliver one of my babies.
Whew! When did dreams get so complicated? I admit to having a couple of pregnancy dreams prior to starting midwifery school, but this one was so different! It was like I was living my periodical exams in person, worrying about all of the correct answers and making sure I remembered every part of everything. What an exhausting (but totally fascinating) dream!
Is this what midwifery school does to you? I’m so curious to find out what happens next.