Flower Crowns and Fetuses

Adventures of a Student Midwife

Sooooooo…… I should be studying the cardiovascular system right now. Tomorrow we have Overview of the Human Body for Midwives and the cardiovascular system is the last one we’ll be discussing during this session, and the only one I haven’t studied yet….

But here’s the thing.

I can’t study.

Today was HUGE! So far, 90% of our classes have been spent in lecture/class discussion with some brief hands on skill practice with things like hand washing and vital signs. Not today! Today was pelvic exam day!!!

I know what you’re thinking- pelvic exam day? That sounds terrible… what kind of freak are you?

The student midwife kind.

So anyway. In our program, we practice what is called reciprocal learning. Which essentially means when we practice skills we do so on each other. Just about everyone I have talked to thinks I’m crazy for being totally ok with this, even excited. But here’s why. When you practice on fellow students, not only do you receive really great feedback from someone who is also learning how to do things correctly and in a way that is comfortable(ish) for everyone, its also ok to let your lack of confidence show a little bit.

I have been friends with one of my fellow classmates since before starting school, so naturally we paired up for the exams. Sasha has given her permission for me to share pictures of each of us performing our first exam- I am so thankful that we are both equally excited about documenting this journey.

 

That’s right- I also completed my first successful blood draw! *takes bow*

I won’t go into much more detail, I should probably get back to studying, but I had to get this exciting day out of my head first.

Our first couple of days have been everything I anticipated, and also nothing that I expected. We have already shared so much, learned so much. Introductions were more than just your name and where you’re from, it was why you’re here, on this path. Everyone in the cohort is at a different place in their life and has taken a different journey to get to where we all are right now; seeking the same goal.

I love the atmosphere of the entire campus. The school is inside an old brick home with the primary classroom above the old carriage house. The kitchen is shared and cared for by all; staff, instructors, and students alike. It is totally normal to find half of the class not wearing shoes or a student pumping breast milk while still actively participating in class, the instructor may be nursing a baby while at the front of the class leading a discussion. It feels so wonderful and foreign to me to be really treated as an adult and a student at the same time.

I feel overwhelmed at times because this whole idea has been just that, an idea. It feels really real now. This is happening, the thing I’ve spent hours researching, worrying, and day dreaming about is here. And it’s a lot of work. Logically I always knew it would be a lot of work but I think it really sinks in when you’re looking down the barrel of syllabi of ten different, all equally important, classes. There are no fluff courses; nothing we’re doing just for something to do to get credits. Every class, every session, every hour is equally important in helping us to provide not just adequate but quality care for the individuals who trust us to do just that.

I feel more solidly on this path, more sure that it’s the right choice, and more certain that someday, not too far in the distance, I will wear a flower crown.

Just a couple more hours before we hit the road! I am so thankful that I have a friend from this area who is attending school with me. It’s about a two hour drive from here to Bridgton, mostly on roads less traveled. It can be a boring drive to make alone. The simple fact of having company is lovely, but especially having company as excited and passionate about this journey as I am.

I may have slightly over packed for our 5 night stay. Being our first week of classes, I’m not sure how much of our equipment we’ll need or how many of the books we’ll actually use during our classroom discussions. I, of course, packed a fan (two actually). I checked with the landlord and he told me their is only one fan in the whole house. It’s going to be in the high 80s and humid all week and it’s important that we’re all well rested for classes.

I’m not as nervous as I am used to being before a new experience like this. After working so hard to get here I know I’m ready. Everything has fallen into place the last couple of weeks; things I’d had anxiety about for months, taken care of overnight.

I think that’s how you know you’re on the right track. On my wedding day I thought I’d be a nervous wreck being in the spotlight. That morning came and all I felt was love, excitement, and confidence that I had made the right choice. This morning I woke up feeling the same way.

When it’s right, it’s right.

In my last post I mentioned that I would wear a flower crown, without any background information, that probably didn’t make a lot of sense. I’m sure the name of the blog got you guessing too.

So what’s with the flower crown??

Knowing my current circumstances, I knew that if I were going to be able to attend midwifery school I would have to do it in a way that didn’t involve moving. Cutting my hours at work would mean relying on Ryan’s (my husband) income significantly more for the next few years. For us, that means staying right where we are.

Enter: The Community Program.

Birthwise offers the community program for passionate students for whom relocation just isn’t an option. The community program allows for students to live in their home town, traveling to Bridgton for two, two-week intensives every semester for in class learning and skills practice. The rest of the semester would be spent on home study and preceptorship with a local midwife.

What does that have to do with flower crowns?

After learning about the community option and falling in love with the campus and mission of the school, I knew Birthwise was the school for me. I also knew that getting in could be a challenge.

One of very few CPM programs in America students from all of the country, and other parts of the world, apply at the school, specifically for the community program. Being a small school they are only able to accept 20 students per year.

A small, seemingly insignificant detail I found on their website became my mantra throughout the process of prerequisites, applications, and interviews.

Every year the instructors make beautiful flower crowns for the graduates to wear at the graduation ceremony. Somehow that flower crown became my focus, my mantra.

So anytime I started getting stressed about essays, exams, and expenses, my friends would remind me-

“You are going to wear a flower crown.”

Such a simple token of accomplishment. Such a simple goal. Such a simple phrase. And yet, it was just what I needed to hear to put it all back in perspective. Things will be hard. Harder than I can even imagine now at the very beginning.

But I will wear a flower crown.

It is 2:30am. I am wide awake. Technically, tomorrow I leave for school. Tomorrow.

My brain’s logic says I should feel anxious. And in some ways I suppose I am. I am worried that my new friend/classmate will judge my driving skills and music choices. I am nervous that the clothes I pack for my week at school won’t be comfortable enough, and cute enough, or cool (temperature wise, it’s gonna be humid) enough, or fancy enough or casual enough. My biggest anxiety is alway being ‘enough’.

With all that being said- I am not anxious about orientation and my first week of classes. I’m not anxious about meeting my classmates and trying to impress my instructors. I’m just not anxious. It’s an unusual feeling for me. I think that is how you know something is right. When everything that could possibly cause anxiety is there; new people, pressure to succeed, being away from home and my husband, the possibility of very public failure; and yet I feel totally at peace. I am so ready for this.

I will wear a flower crown. No matter how long it takes.

So what could possibly have me wide awake at 2:30am?

The Medium Iced Mocha with toasted almond and coconut flavor shots, cream only, that I forgot to order decaf this afternoon.

At least it is providing me with some quiet time to put my thoughts down in writing.

If it’s both terrifying and amazing, then you should definitely pursue it.
-ERADA

Midwifery. Terrifying. Amazing.
Worth it.

It is hard to say when this journey began. Each phase of the process has felt like a new beginning. My first doula workshop, the first birth I attended, watching The Business of Being Born and realizing that, as a doula, I wasn’t going to be able to help facilitate the changes I wish to see. Submitting my application to Birthwise Midwifery School was one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve done to date. Accepting only 20 students per year out of applicants from all over the country, how could I possibly be worth their time?

But then the call came. I had been accepted to the 2018 Certified Professional Midwifery Program Community Cohort at the school of my dreams. Naturally, I was at work when the call came in, so I was able to listen to the news over and over on my voicemail, crying tears of joy at my desk. My coworkers knew how important this was to me. They had been helping me through out the whole application process; editing essays, writing letters of reference, letting me talk non stop about Birthwise for months. They celebrated with me. A doctor that I worked very closely with, attending my first birth as a doula for one of his patients, picked me up off the ground he hugged me so hard. I cried some more.

Reality set in and I began to realize that getting into the school of my dreams was not going to be the hard part. Figuring out a school, work, life balance; navigating the world of student loans; buying textbooks; preparing for the first week of classes with hours of studying.

All leading to now.

My first day of classes is only two days away. I am mentally packing everything I’ll need for a week in Bridgton. A week with 18 women I’ve never met but already share so much with. A week immersed in midwifery, feminism, beauty, passion, and first day jitters. A week away from my husband and home. A week of new beginnings.

And so it begins.