Just before August came, we started getting emails from the program about this and that. Schedules for school, requirements for CPR, NRP, textbooks to buy, all that jazz. We also found the syllabus for our first week back at school – appropriately called Advanced Clinical Skills Intensive 1 – the syllabus was 18 pages. Gulp.
So without trying to panic too much, I left my work a little bit earlier than expected to prepare. Ordered two textbooks online and started my to-do list. My textbooks came relatively quickly and I admit, I was really excited to get them. The first was the AOM’s Emergency Skills Workshop Manual. Once I started reading the book, I was instantly taken back to my NC days and suddenly my heart was aching to catch another baby. So I read on about shoulder dystocia, breech manoeuvres, and cord prolapse. Then I read another textbook about fetal heart surveillance in labour and looked at strip after strip trying to understand the amazing thing that is the fetal heart and the mother-baby cardiac dyad.
So before I left work, the anxiety of going back to school hit me pretty hard. And while I loved my NC placement and I adore school, there is a bit of sacrifice that comes along with being a midwife (okay, a lot of sacrifice). I was afraid that I would lose myself to midwifery again – my body ached after NC and I didn’t want to completely surrender every part of me to the job. So I chatted with a counsellor at this beautiful place I worked at all summer and we talked about how much midwifery means to me, how much I love providing care to families, and how I can’t wait to go back to school, but we also talked about what I might have to give up. We talked about giving myself to midwifery but also practicing really good self-care. Now, I’m starting to think that I had a pretty shallow definition of self-care. You know, bubble baths, baking, crocheting, etc. things that distracted me from stress. But the truth is, I think what I learned from that counsellor is that what works for me is to lean into stress and lean into self-care.
She then asked me how can I ‘midwife’ myself…
This was a revelation for me – how can I midwife myself? – the ultimate self-care. I thought about the clinic appointments I do, I ask my clients how they are feeling today, I ask them to tell me more about the problems they’re experiencing, I lean in. I try to make them feel like they matter and validate their feelings. So how can I midwife myself? Well, I could provide the same care that I provide to my clients to myself. So that’s what I’m doing – I write in my journal and ask myself those same questions and let it flow. I give myself permission to crumble, give myself permission to dig deep into the material but also back off and relax if I need to. It feels so much more authentic than distracting myself with junk food or whatever, it feels like healing.
So here we are almost in October, a month into school and I’m feeling wonderful. Truthfully, it’s not just the journaling but going to the gym and being in PAP. It’s never that simple – things are good now but I’m laying a good foundation for when this program gets hairy again at some point. So keep the tank half full gals, take care of yourself first so that you can be an even better midwife than you already are.