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.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fat & Communication

Today I've sat through a two-hour lecture on preeclamsia and a one-hour lecture on gestational diabetes. I feel like I've had these lectures several times... and I have... but still I don't feel like I know the information. I sometimes get distracted by the conversations that happen around the topic. Today I was distracted by the tone of fat bias in the classroom, especially during the gestational diabetes lecture. One comment was about an obese woman who had the nerve to continue to eat steak after her gestational diabetes diagnosis. Oh the nerve of this woman. Steak! Imagine. Now of course, steak- and meat in general- has come to symbolize all that people who eat differently than the majority of the folks enrolled do wrong. And of course we then get to sugar and refined carbs. And don't forget the dunkin donuts in the morning and the McDonalds for lunch and dinner that all of us fat people are eating every single day. (Seriously, this is what was said today about how overweight and fat women are eating... without any caveats, any "most" or "many" nomenclature, and with lots of classroom laughter) Lately I've begun to tune out the things that bother me in the classroom. I figure I don't have the energy to care about these things when I have so many more important things to learn in my 9 hour classroom day. But fat bias is one of those things that, as the only obese patient in my cohort, is hard to sit through. I think a great future research project would be to interview obese nursing/midwifery students about their experiences in the classrooms of the medical field. I think we'd get an earful. I rarely say anything in class about this because, come on, how predictable... the proud fat girl defending the other fat girls.

And, at this point, my relationship with my class has moved to a completely professional one. I no longer participate in weekly check-in, and I am so proud of myself for making this decision. It was important for my sanity, self-esteem, and overall happiness. After being called hostile multiple times by one student who then started crying per her usual emotional state and my supporting of her feelings about me- with an apology and a hug to calm her despite my disagreeing with her outburst, and feeling very attacked and unsupported myself- I realized that I sit through a lot of teary, "my cat is dog is dying" kind of check-ins. Check-ins that don't serve me at all because my brand of emotionality does not involve crying in front of strangers and lamenting in a "whatever am I going to do" kind of exasperation. I realized that unless I was crying about the kinds of things that matter to them, very little support was going to be offered, and very few of my cohort has the ability to respect different ways of communicating one's feelings. While I think that people who desire support have a responsibility to communicate that to those who might be able support her, I also think that people who would like to call themselves friends have a responsibility to at least consider observing when someone whose first instinct is not sobbing might be stressed herself.

The other day I wrote that we lost a student. The primary (and only as far as I witnessed) concern of many in m
y cohort was who would get her now-available call shifts. I was appalled. We lost someone. Someone who started this program with us is no longer with us. I feel like that deserved a moment of discussion about what we could/should/might do as a class to acknowledge this situation. I'm not talking about a sit-in to get her re-enrolled or anything dramatic like that. I'm talking about compassion... acknowledgment of the loss... reaching out to see if there's anything she wants to talk about... something. Something other than vying for her shifts.

1 comment:

Pamela said...

My favorite accusation is the one that blames overweight women for the increase in maternal morbidity.

I tell you what, gestational diabetes is a joke as it is presented. the only "GD" I accept is women on the verge of type II diabetes before pregnancy and then, with natural decreased pancreas function in pregnancy, have blood sugar issues. Can we just get rid of the GTT? please? and why so many varying, and conflicting, lab values for "diagnoses"?

In my practice, the worst hypertensive and hyperglycemic cases have been from thin women. Especially blood sugar issues - usually related to women older than 40 who have poor diets.

I can't even get over how few providers know about using a larger cuff to measure BP on heavier women.

I just get sick of the "fat=big baby/hypertension/diabetes/cesarean section"

More and more plus-sized women are being set up for cesarean sections right from the start of care based on these biases. And guess what? Plus-sized women do not heal well from cesareans. So maybe the increase in complications with these women are based purely on fatphobia.

In my medical records, 14 years ago, I was labeled "obese" because I weighed 165 pounds at the start of my pregnancy.