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 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.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ramblings, Part 1: Of course...

I'm coming back, DrJen, lol.

I'm a little on the edge right now. Poked my toe in the water, but jumped back.

I'm going through.

Thinking. Thinking critically. Trying not to make rash decisions. This is when I should be blogging most, but this is when there's the least amount of time to do so. I also have a hard time writing coherently when my mind's on fire. But then other times it helps to just purge it out onto the page. I don't know which one this will be ultimately, but I can at least manage a list:
  • I'm in the process of going through IRB for my thesis, which is a headache, to say the least.
  • My school schedule is overwhelming me...the two days of clinical + one or two days of call + two days of class + my little part time job are starting to feel very heavy. I will not be working at the library after the end of this semester. People often think my exhaustion has to do with trying to write a thesis on top of everything else...but actually my thesis is the one thing that is giving me much joy at the moment. It is the only thing that I actually want to do when I sit down to work on it. And with the phenomenon I'm looking at being racial fatigue and the critical framework being that of black feminist thought...I'm sure it's obvious to my loyal readers why this is the most enjoyable part of my education at the moment...I mean, I was introduced to standpoint theory and the cultural contract paradigm over the last two weeks and had to stop and thank the universe for giving me something, anything, to get out of bed for. ;o)
  • I am trying to get my stuff together for the NCLEX, which is not only a pain the financial, organizational ass, but also a pain in the brain because I think it's silly that I need to be licensed as a RN to be a midwife in the first place, but that's another blog (and I'm sure someone has already tackled it) and at this point I just 1)find the money and 2)follow the directions...and then at some point I need to 3)find time to study for it.
  • I am petitioning for summer funding...for work and also the ACNM conference which, I think, is absolutely ridiculously priced...why would you choose a hotel that has a group rate of $200 per night as the cheapest room option? Especially for a conference that's nearly a week long? And why would your reistration fee be almost $400 for students? But I need to go because that's where I'm planning to interview at least 2 students for my thesis.
  • Speaking of funding and writing checks...I filled out my FAFSA and got the shock of a lifetime when my EFC came back nearly 6 grand for the 2008-2009 school year. I gasped, but I didn't cry. I printed it, put it away, and will deal with it later.
  • I'm failing a class. Actually, half the class is probably failing the class. PHARM. I study more for the weekly quizzes in this class than I do for midterms and finals in my midwifery courses...and still I'm failing. Stressin me out. And I've lost like 30ish dreads, I was trying to count last night...I might have to chop it. Whatever, been there, done that a few times before.
  • Lastly, the more I'm learning, the more I'm hating midwifery. There. I said it. It's not just school...this always happens with me in school because I don't now, nor have I ever, really cared for school. Even when I was a little girl I hated school. I'm good at it most times, and I love learning, especially through reading and writing, but classes...multiple-choice exams...people interaction...memorization...I hate it. But's midwifery. They way I'm learning it...all complications, no trust in birth whatsoever. So much primary care. Hypertension + meds. Diabetes + meds. High cholesterol + meds. Anemias and blood diseases + meds. Genetics, genetics, genetics. Ugh. Seriously, if I had known...I might not have done it, and that's the first time I've said that I think. If I had known that all I'd study were complications, that I wouldn't know the women I was delivering, that there'd be very little continuity of care (start at the purple), I might have just skipped it. Everything is a risk. We're just waiting for something bad to happen. I know more about pre-ecclampsia than I do a 'normal' labor curve. And lastly on this topic...I had interesting conversation with someone about this whole clinical practice vs research careers in nursing and midwifery thing. This someone has done both, and is now conducting research and teaching. I was saying how frustrating it is that people are not 'allowed' to just say, "ya know, I really do want to just be a nurse researcher/scientist." It is taboo to say or do this without 'putting in time' in the field. People say you must work in the field to be able to talk about the field...that nurses, midwives, are always first and foremost clinicians. Well, while I certainly think that clinical practice is the backbone of nursing and midwifery and obviously very helpful, and a clinical population is necessary for clinical research, I do not think there's a certain amount of clinical practice experience necessary to be a good researcher...that is to say that I believe there is also honor in conducting (and building a career in) NON-clinically based nursing and midwifery research...what about our historians? Our stastititians? Our theorists? Instead, there is an unspoken expectation that most of a nurse/midwife's research will be clinically based and then she (or he) will periodically, whenever time permits, research those 'other' things. I am noticing that I happen to be more interested in those "other things." Another professor, whom I respect because she does all three (clinical, research and teaching - quite well, too) reminded me one day when she sat down as I was eating my lunch, that really, you need a clinical practice if you're doing clinical research because that's the easiest way to access subjects. It makes sense, no argument from me there. I think the vast majority of people go into these professions with the plan to practice clinically. So did I, among other things. But I also think there needs to be room for acceptance of those who have a different plan, and that room requires respect for people's knowledge of self...which I'm finding lacking in this place right now. Some of us will go into law, or policy, or administration, or education, or something else entirely. But we are all still midwives...right? Why should students be afraid to say that they don't think they will practice clinically? I have met students who are afraid to say it. And after meeting with that person above, who actually counseled me that if I ever felt disenchanted with the clinical practice of midwifery to NEVER, EVER tell my midwifery faculty that (she was also the person who said to never tell your teachers/preceptors that you never want to work as a bedside RN...she was right about that - there are consequences), I understand why they're scared. That's ridiculous...where's that circle of safety, now? Where's the trust? Where's the room for intellectual stimulation outside of the pathophysiology of labor and birth? Where's the space for critical thinking about not only one's assessment and plan for the management of the patient, but also the assessment and plan for one's career and life goals...for one's self preservation and growth? How is it that a faculty of midwives can not see when student midwives need midwiving? I believe they feel obligated to 'toughen us up' for the profession we are joining and the climate in which that profession finds itself. But there is more to raising a midwife than tough love. I'm fading. And if I'm fading, with my history of perseverance, then I know others are, too.
I'm back.


the robot said...

That is an awful feeling. It seems like surely I'm getting something wrong in my understanding of theory and application, because my faculty are NOT providing the standard of care to my classmates and I that I am expected to provide to my patients.
And I get that I'm not here to be their patient, I promise I understand, Dean.
But this horrible sense of vertigo, when I'm talking to someone who just facilitated brainstorming for three hours (while my ass grew increasingly ischemic) about interventions based on empathy and understanding, and I'm asking, pleading, for some of that same empathy and understanding, and I get the therapeutic nod and smile, and NO SUBSTANTIVE RESPONSE. I hate that a lot.


in other news, I'm happy to see you back! I spent my morning at the only free-standing birth center in my state, following a new CNM around. I got to see a prenatal appt with a woman at 14wks, 20 wks, 28 wks, and 2 wks postpartum. I got to listen as the midwives discussed what to do about a beta hCG that hadn't doubled! So cool! I actually got to say stuff and participate in the conversations! yay!

Pamela said...

I, too, am glad to see your return. I've been thinking about you.

Midwives are the worst when it comes to self-care...somehow we think we don't need it or something. Which means we don't offer nurturing to anyone but the people that are paying us to. Sad, eh?

Love to you. You're learning so much! I'm wayyy impressed, even if it feels overwhelming.

Navelgazing Midwife said...

To me, the reason not to mention - or why it's so hard to comprehend - that you want to do research only is because "midwife" means WITH WOMAN! It just seems odd that someone would want to be a midwife and not do birth. A very loud oxymoron to me.

It isn't that I wouldn't honor your path - and it's always worth applauding when someone knows something about themselves... like women who don't want kids... but it is odd and I'd think you were pretty... hmm... close-minded? rude? narrow-minded?... if you didn't understand why many of us think the way that surprises you.

And if you want to do research on non-clinical things, why become a midwife at all? What kinds of things are you wanting to research? (I'm wanting to know to try and convince you of why you still need clinical experience. Isn't that funny? [I'm laughing!!!]) Arrogance at its finest, eh? *shaking head in amazement at myself!*

I'm sorry things are hard. Please remember how it feels when you are past it all... so you can remind me when *I* am in the throes of it all!

While I haven't gone through all that you are doing (yet), I am so proud of you FOR doing it all. We need you!! We need your heart, your words, your education, your research. I don't know if we need the dreads (*laughingwink*), so those can go. But, it is YOU we need. Hang in there. Keep going, one foot/fingernail at a time. You CAN do it. I believe in you.

doctorjen said...

I'm so glad you are back! I've been checking every day and worrying you were too overwhelmed (or underwhelmed?) or something to continue to blog.
I hated most of my medical education for the most part. By the end of residency, I was starting to enjoy some of it - especially my bond with my clinical panel patients, some of whom I kept for all 3 years of residency, and leaving them was very painful. I hated being on call for strangers, I hated being at births and not being in charge, and not knowing my client, and feeling like she (the client) had so little control in our setting and I could do so little to make it better. I hated that I was taught birth as a pathologic entity, and spent my calls waiting for disasters (which frequently actually happened in my population) I don't really like babies all by themselves that much - I mean, it turns out that I adore my own children, and I enjoy babies I know, but I'm just not that into babies for the sake of babies, so it was not enough to make me happy during OB clinical.
I would encourage you to follow your heart and follow your dreams, but do remember that what you are doing now does not truly resemble what clinical practice would be for you - unless you practice in a large, teaching hospital environment (which, if you are wanting to research and teach may be the case, of course.) There are as many clinical settings out there as you can imagine. You can choose to do what interests you, and not the rest.
I didn't really enjoy my clinical practice until I was a good 6 mos in and knew most of my clients, so that when I came to work in the morning I could put a face to each name on my schedule. Also, I do NOT do the following orders thing very well. Being the one in charge is much more satisfying! (Although I am also a huge believer in knowing when you need help and having the lack of ego to ask for it without delay - it's not being able to DO everything myself that's satisfying, it's being able to direct care in a way I feel is right and not having to watch someone else do things I'm not sure I agree with.)
Fortunately, you don't have to define the rest of your life and career path today. It's good to move toward what you want, but it's okay if you decide to lean another way down the road - my mom at 65 is still learning new things and embarking on new large projects (including starting as a grief counselor for the first time in her 60s) and that always gives me great hope that I have time: time to change and grow and move in different directions. and you are younger than me - so you have even more time! So push ahead in the direction you need to go right now, and feel free to take a fork in the road if it's right later!
(okay, and tell this ignorant white girl one thing - how do you lose dreads?)