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Why I'm Not Pursuing Nurse-Midwifery, Part 2

To read Part 1 of the transcript of the video above, click here! The video is the same for both posts.

Every day when I went to school, I started getting this pit in my stomach where I just felt wrong. I felt icky. I felt trapped. That’s something that came up for me many times; I felt trapped. I felt like there was no room, no space, no fluidity. It didn’t even feel like it was safe for me to ask questions in my classes without the immediate understanding that the person I’m asking has been taught that there’s only really a couple answers that are solidified, correct answers to the questions I have, no matter what their experience was. It just became too much. So one day, I took a quiz in one of my classes and I was supposed to have a break and then go back to classes. My husband met me for lunch and I just looked at him and said, “This is just not for me. This isn’t the path that I feel like I need to be on or want to be on. I don’t feel like competing for a spot in nursing school makes any sense to somebody who doesn’t feel like she would make a very good nurse.”

Really, that’s ultimately what it came down to. I just didn’t think I could take orders from other people for years before being able to have my own practice. I didn’t feel like I could sit in classes with 18-20-year olds who have no experience in the real world. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being in college at 18-20 years old – I was one of those people. I have a bachelor’s degree that I got at a young age. But nursing is so practical, it’s so real-life based. You’re going to be working with human beings and if you have no experience working with human beings to begin with, if you have no experience to look back to, to say “hey this thing we’re learning right now, in real life this is what it looks like,” then all you know is what you’re being told by your professors and by your textbooks. And that, I think, is problematic in itself.

And I think that leads to issues: communication issues, dropping the ball when it comes to patient care, alienation and isolation, and ultimately I think it leads to a lot of people dropping out of school because when they get to clinical rotations they realize, “Oh crap, this is not how it seemed like in the books. This is what it’s actually like, and now that I’m 3-5 years invested and doing clinicals, maybe I don’t like it.” Maybe it doesn’t work for them, maybe they start questioning at that point but then it’s too late because they’re already in it. And I felt like I was becoming part of the systemic problem in our healthcare system that I see on a regular basis not just as a doula and childbirth educator, but also as somebody who has gone through quite a bit caring for family members in that medical system. I see problems on a day to day basis that could be managed, softened around and talked about if people were more open and receptive to even having the conversation. But the thing is, right in the beginning – from prerequisite status – there is no questioning, nor discussion, nor room for any of that.

Ultimately, what it came down to for me, was that I wanted to be in a community where I was learning, and also where I could give of myself, and where there was a reciprocity that existed because I’m a human being who has a life full of experiences already… and that my experience mattered as well as what the research says, and what my textbooks were saying. But I also wanted to go to a professor and be able to say, “Hey, this is what we’re studying and I see a problem because in my community this is what it actually looks like, in my experience. This is what I’m seeing on a regular basis. How can we address this problem, this particular issue so that our clients get better care, so that the world is better cared for long term, so that I’m a better medical care provider?” And ultimately, the answer was that I don’t want to actually be that type of medical care provider. I want to be someone who can walk alongside somebody and who runs my own practice the way that other people have influenced me to do so, the way that I influence myself to do so, the way the research shows works, and the way that my clients need me to do it. And I just realized that at least in my area – I’m in Southern California-we have a lot more resources for becoming a midwife here than a lot of states. I just felt like the obvious choice was to have my own practice long term. The obvious choice at the end of the day was I wanted to be with people who are birthing and not be with a medical mindset first. I didn’t want to be a midwife second and a nurse first.

And again, I’m not saying that’s how all midwives work in hospitals or birth centers, because again, I know those midwives personally who are midwives first, and I can feel it when they’re with patients and clients. I can feel that energy, what they’re giving, the way they work and the way they want to communicate with people, and it’s all in alignment with what I want to do. But the path to get there is just different than the path that I could personally take, and that I could personally see myself doing long term without throwing my hands up at some point and saying, “This is too much of nothing that relates to what I want, and what I envision for myself, my life, my practice, and my own clients long-term.”

I feel like any time I see a nurse or a nurse midwife at this point, I just want to hug them and love on them so much because I know how much of a journey that itself must’ve been, and I know how much they struggle to get people the care that they deserve. I can just feel how frustrating it must be sometimes to try to make change from within. And at one point, I felt like that was worth it all – that’s worth whatever you have to go through as a human (I’m talking to myself in this realm), because you’re making change from within, and even though it’s slow and incremental and all of these things, it is change and it’s helping the system. But I realized that I didn’t want to be a part of this system to begin with. I don’t believe the system works in total, and I don’t believe it’s what best for maternal and newborn wellness in our country, at the moment. I don’t believe politically, socially, economically, or physically – in the body – that it’s right, and I definitely don’t think spiritually and personally that medicalized birth is helping really anybody at this point, except for the people who absolutely need it. And this is one of those areas that’s really challenging because personally, in my own birth work as a doula and childbirth educator, and as someone who walks with parents to birth, I know that that medical model saves lives many times. And I know that there are people who would not have their babies healthily in their arms without that model of care, without that access. I know that. I’ve seen it; I understand it, and I respect that fact and truth. The fact that we have access to things like Cesarean births that are safe, that people can recover from, and that you can have a baby within fifteen minutes if you need to- that’s amazing that we have that technology. And also, I don’t believe that should be the norm. I don’t believe that being in the hospital right away should have to be the norm for most people.

So, all that said, that’s how I ended up choosing to go to the Midwives College of Utah. I ended up doing a lot of research online of course, but also talking to people who have been there, people who have both been there and are still there, and people who have been there and also dropped out. I feel like it was important to understand why they dropped out. What was it about the program, their lives, or midwifery in total as a career choice or profession – or even a calling, spiritually – what was it that didn’t work for them?

And I’ve kind of fallen in love. So last week, I ended up doing a conference with them – their Skills Suite conferences (which are amazing, by the way, if you are even considering being an assistant to a midwife, being a student midwife, if you are a midwife, they’re awesome). I met a bunch of faculty and students, and I kind of met myself as a student midwife, which was really unexpected. I thought I’d go and learn some stuff, which I did. But I didn’t realize I’d go and fall in love with birth all over again and fall in love with learning all over again. And I did. And I’m really pumped about that. And I didn’t feel like that at all when I was on the path to become a nurse, and then ultimately hopefully a nurse midwife. So that was a sign for me that that wasn’t the right path for me, that it didn’t work for me personally.

So yeah, Midwives College of Utah. I start in late August. September is when classes actually start. I’m super pumped about it, and I’m also terrified, and I think that’s normal. I’m looking forward to buying textbooks off of people, so hit me up if you know of anybody who has textbooks from Midwives College of Utah, who doesn’t want to keep them. I know a lot of those textbooks people love, though. And I can’t wait to start practicing on people. I can’t wait to assist at births. I also can’t wait to fail in all the ways that I know I will. I think that’s really important. One of the first things that happened in the conference this past week was I learned all about IV skills and trying to place my IV, and the first thing I did was blow a vein for somebody, so yay, mistake number one, down. And now I know – now I understand one of the aspects that leads to that, and I understand what happened in that moment and how to prevent it next time, and I think that’s really important.

I want to just remember this moment for myself, that I know it’s not going to be easy and that it’s not going to be all smooth sailing. I know that I’m not going to take to everything on the first day that I try it. But I also know that I am resilient, and I have the ability to bounce back when I fuck things up, and that’s awesome in itself – and I can have the space to ask questions and that somebody’s going to give me their energy, just like I’m going to give my energy to them, the school, my studies, my future clients, my preceptor. I know that there’s actual room for that, and I think that probably the most exciting part of this is the idea that there’s reciprocity along the way, and that there’s space for exploring and identifying problems and challenges and actually figuring out ways to meet those challenges in respectful, compassionate, understanding of the world, holistic ways.

So that will be it for today. Thanks for watching if you’re watching with me. And hopefully I’ll do these here and there throughout this whole journey. And if you don’t hear from me, it’s because I’m in student midwife world. So yay, wish me luck! Thanks for watching.

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