Breathe Easy, You've Found Me ((HUGS))

People will wonder why this blog is needed, why minority midwifery student? It's very simple actually; I was looking for this blog...but I couldn't find it...so I created it. We all have unique experiences, and every experience, every story, can help someone else. I am a black girl from the hood at an ivy league professional school. That, alone, is reason enough to write. Somebody was looking for this blog. Someone wanted proof that what I'm doing can be done - even when you come from where we come from.

To that person especially, WELCOME.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Um...it is MY BODY...isn't it?

I passed my Patho exam over genetics. There was one major concept that just confused me more and more as I continually looked at. I decided that I might miss every one of those questions (almost 25% of the exam), but I will not miss any others. My exam grade reflects that, exactly. A pass is good enough for me in this course. Every time I see the dean she asks me about Patho because I really, really struggled with Biomed (its precursor) and a LOT of students get their "you're a failure, drop out of school immediately" letters for this course. Last time she saw me she said "well it must be going ok, I don't have any letters with your name on them!" I laughed and said "so far, so good." Glad test two is over.

Yesterday I took a Primary Care for Midwives exam over headache, HEENT, respiratory, endocrine, and asthma. That one can go either way, but I'm close enough, I think.


This morning I took a physical assessment lecture exam over integument, peripheral vascular, lymphatic system, and musculoskeletal systems. A pass is expected. A couple hours later I did my final exam/comprehensive checkoff for physical assessment. A head to toe physical exam in 30 minutes, with explanation. That wasn't very good. The teacher kept stopping me in the middle of the exam, asking me questions about where things were...and then she said "inferior" means "above" and of course I corrected her, which was frustrating because here we are having this conversation in the middle of my check off when she was NOT supposed to speak or ASK any questions unless at the end I had more time left and she wanted clarification. I would have much rather lost the one point, than to take 3 minutes explaining it/answering her questions. And it happened more than once, so I ran out of time. And I said to her "I didn't think you were supposed to ask questions while I was doing the exam. There isn't enough time even without the Q&A" And she replied "well, I didn't always know what you were doing, so i had to ask to be able to give you the point." I let it go at that because I knew that some of the things that she was asking about might have been easier for her to see if my partner and I had taken off all of our clothes. So, long story short, I passed it, but that's it. Which is good enough, because I know I would have gotten an honors, had I not run out of time...which I wouldn't have done without her interruptions. All I can say is, I. am. so. glad. this. class. is. over.

I'm glad that knowing what I was capable of, and what I would have earned, is actually good enough for me, despite the grade. Some folks don't have the same peace of mind when they encounter the same injustice. (wink ;o) at my lab partner) But I wish her peace of mind, too, even it's only from having conquered the check offs, never to have to do them again.

I am trying to separate who I am, and know myself to be, from who they think I am and want me to be. It isn't easy. This whole semester I have fought to keep my clothes on in this class. As a future midwife, I'd like to think that I am adamant about women being able to advocate for their rights, and backing them up if they are new to such practice or otherwise find it difficult. So I found it very ironic that I was finding it so uncomfortable to fight for my own right to keep my clothes on each and every week while being "inspected, auscultated, percussed, and palpated." This is absolutely my right, so why all the internal conflict? The unfairness of taking points from my partner for my refusal to remove my clothing made it difficult. (luckily, this turned out ok for both us) but it has me thinking...if they had not conceded, and we did not continually have the same "your body is yours" midwife checking us off, would I have held my ground? When my partner's grade was on the line...would I have held my ground? If they said, you do this or you don't pass the class...if you don't pass the class, you must leave the program...would I have held my ground? Probably not. I probably would have taken off my clothes obediently (probably would have sued their ass soon after, but still) and that does not sit well with me. To think that I am telling/showing/ensuring women that they absolutely own the rights to their own bodies and I don't feel that I have the same rights...or, more clearly, I recognize the right-and believe in it fully, but would not have had the courage to demand it, makes me ill. Am I really so stuck on this institution that I would really do something I feel so physically, mentally uncomfortable with just to stay? What else am I willing to trade my basic right to my body for? Today, enrollment at ivy1...tomorrow my entire soul. Slippery slope.

But for now, I'm done. So I am going to breathe today, party tomorrow (cuz I just finished a CLASS, HELLO!), and get back to work on Thursday.

But for now...I have a class from 3:30-5:30 today, then...

Cry

Pray

Nap

Eat

Drink

Drink

Drink

Drink

You get the point...

LP

5 comments:

CNM said...

Congratulations on passing! That must feel SO good. I remember all too well what that's like--the stress, the anxiety, then the relief. Enjoy your napping and drinking, you deserve it.

I'm curious, too: when it comes time to learn how to do pelvic exams, are you guys expected to learn and practice on each other as well? That's what we did in our program. It definitely wasn't the easiest thing in the world to get over your inhibitions, but I think overall it is a really effective learning tool to be on the receiving end of a student pelvic. It really taught me what to do (or not do), what to focus on, how to be gentle etc. Although, again, if this is something you're not comfortable with, I don't think it's something you should lose points with, or be required to do anyway. It IS your body. You're absolutely right about that, and it does lie at the core of midwifery practice, and isn't something which can be ignored or conveniently forgotten about, for grades or otherwise.

that big girl said...

you said - Am I really so stuck on this institution that I would really do something I feel so physically, mentally uncomfortable with just to stay?

and I'm wondering if it's really an attachment to the institution or to the degree. Because at some point in the pursuit of the degree (and this seems even more true in grad programs than for my BSN sitch) the institution and the degree become fused. I would be unwilling to even consider trying to transfer credits, set up financial aid, establish routines for buses and printing and clinical rotation assignments, meet and greet and go through the stomach-twisting uncertainty of the new school again with over half the program already completed.

but then, I'm feeling really queasy at the moment - like I just realized that I'm in the middle of the suspension bridge across the gorge. Proud of how far I've come, true. that pride combined with the fear of jumping to another bridge would be enough to make me put up with some Fear Factor grade bullshit to finish it out.

I'm so proud that you made it through this class! Think about it as the luxury to see how you tore your coat on the way out the door, and you have time to go patch that thing right up!

with love, kati

Ashley said...

I am sorry did I hear you correctly, you are done with check off's? If I could send you a hug/drink (whichever would be more beneficial at this time) I would. I am also sooooo jealous (In the proud of a friend kinda way)!!! Congrats! And you are not selling your soul, I am sure people have tolerated much more to get to the bigger picture.

Loving Pecola said...

Thanks guys!

About pelvics on eachother: yes that's part of the experience at my school, which you have the rigth to decline, and I did, but it was still a kind of "it's your choice" with a little "why don't you want to do it?" mixed in...a little pressure was involved...here's a link to the psot I already wrote abou tit:

http://minoritymidwiferystudent.blogspot.com/2007/09/my-first-gyn-exam-practicing-on.html

Anonymous said...

Good for you for sticking to your guns about remaining dressed!! I will be doing the same in my program and it was really helpful to read about how you did it.

I still can't get over the cognitive dissonance required for midwifery students to examine one another in an academic, professional, GRADED exercise. I have finally stopped being surprised to hear self-proclaimed advocates for women's bodily self-determination pooh-pooh their fellow students who don't want to share in this particular bonding exercise. I thought a woman's body was her own? It just doesn't make sense.