Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife


Crawling to Spring

Posted by Lucille on March 21, 2017 at 4:40 PM

I have one final exam left. Spring break is so close I can taste it. We actually made it through this term. Alternative titles for this post include Holy Shit, Y'all and It Feels Like I Just Drove Through a Car Wash with the Windows Down.

So two and a half months ago when I last wrote, I promised there would be a post soon with pictures from DC. I haven't even put those photos on my computer yet. I got stuck in DC due to ice on the runway, made it to Portland a few days later on a different flight, and got snowed in again at my parents place. I'm not sure I would have traded getting to explore the winter wonderland with my brother for anything, but being snowed in for so long without my computer or books meant I basically showed up in week 3 without having seen the syllabus yet and I've been trying to get caught up ever since. This term was relentless. I asked for twice as many extensions this term as I did in all of nursing school and every time I felt like I was almost caught up, something else seemed to come out of nowhere and throw me a week behind again. Two months later we headed into finals week and I still felt like I hadn't gotten my legs under me.

Because I'm so confident that this program is the right place for me to be right now and I worked so hard to get here (and know that I so easily might not have gotten in), a part of me thinks that I should be in perpetual Hermione-mode, soaking it all in and reveling in every learning opportunity even on the most exhausting days. So in the spirit of saying hard truths out loud: that was not fun. There were joyful moments for sure but overall this term was freaking hard and never having to do it over again will be too soon.

I think the part about this time that will be hardest to remember years from now is the sheer pace of it all. A sampling: I did perimortem nursing care by myself at work for the first time, had my first experience of listening for a fetal heartbeat that was no longer there at an early prenatal appointment, got to be at a friend's birth for the first time, and inserted my first IUD. That sounds like enough new learning experiences for a term to me, and that was all within a week. Five days, technically. These were all profound experiences that I was privileged to be present for, but there was just so MUCH week after week with no time to rest that I wore through my resilience.

Last week all three midwifery cohorts gathered to celebrate the second year midwifery students who are headed out into the world for their integration term. The second years, first years (my cohort), and the nursing students who will start the midwifery program next year sat in a circle and and shared what we are excited about, what we are nervous about, and any words of wisdom for the cohort below us. I think we might have scared the nursing students. Right before finals week of this term wasn't the best timing for this event if the goal was for us to inspire confidence in the next generation. When it was my turn, I shared, "I'm so excited to start catching babies in two weeks but mostly I'm scared because this term was brutal and I don't have the stamina to do another one like it next term. Also we just put together the call schedule and my calendar looks like a random hodge-podge of day, swing, and graveyard shifts and I don't understand when I'm supposed to sleep."

And then it was the second years' turn, and the next four people to speak all told us that the term we just finished had been the hardest term for them of the entire program, and that was without starting it two weeks behind. I sat cross-legged on the floor and cried in relief. I didn't understand how that could be true when we haven't started taking call yet, and they reminded us that the 12 hour call shifts are called call for a reason: we won't be moving from one 20-minute appointment to another like we have been in antepartum this term. There may be some shifts that busy, but there will also be shifts where nobody is in labor and we get to hang out in the call room and sleep, study, or get other stuff done. Also, we will be catching babies!!!!! And even if some shifts are scary and draining there will regularly be births that fill us up and remind us why we're doing this in the first place.

The most frequent advice from the second years was for us to lean on our cohort. This term got so busy that a lot of our interactions were limited to beleagered nods of solidarity, and joking that if we were going to be drowned in powerpoints, at least we're drowning together. It's a strange feeling to know that I would trust any of these women with my life but that for the most part, I have no idea what's going on in their personal lives. Luckily I know I'm not alone in hoping we find more time outside of school going forward.

This term physically hurt. I have bags under my eyes. I've been reaching for caffeine and alcohol both more often than I would like and I don't remember the last time I went to the gym. I got fed up with elastic biting into new stretch marks around my hips and replaced my entire underwear drawer. I'd been doing really well with body mechanics at work until I slipped on the ice and landed on my knee, then tried to favor my knee while it healed and strained my back. I think it says something about how draining this term was that I'm feeling it so much in my body, when I'm young and healthy! Grateful for my family's health, too, though Travis is still bummed that he has to carry an epipen around now. This term didn't need anything extra to be hard, and I know many of my peers lost grandparents or had other family emergencies. But we made it. One final to go and then I will be off school for an entire week, and get a fresh start for next term.

We're deliberately planning a staycation for spring break. I'm planning to spend a lot of time lying in bed reading with my cats and if I don't leave the apartment all week that will be just fine.

And then next term I get to start catching babies! Eek!

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Sometimes I have the privilege of being a part of intimate, powerful moments in other people’s lives. I cannot and would not share these stories, because they are not mine to tell. However, they touch my life and become part of my own story. When I share these moments here, you can trust that I have not broken anyone’s confidentiality. The characters are invented. They are not real, but could be. I take creative license to communicate the essence of my experience while respecting the privacy of others.