Monthly Archives: November 2012

Belly burgled!


I’ve been pretty lucky so far when it comes to collaborating with other Birth Companions, but the truth of the matter is that we’re a group of students who all love births, and getting to support a laboring mother is way more fun than sitting in lecture, so sometimes it’s hard to share. Most of us want to attend births full time, and I know it would be hard to pry me out of a birthing room if I had to leave, but I’d like to think I would go and let someone else have a turn. There will always be more babies, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself to soothe the sting of being boxed out of a birth today. On the one hand, I hadn’t met the mom (she was early, and my co-doula didn’t invite me to the prenatal appointment), so I know it might have been weird for her to have a total stranger come in and coach her through pushing. On the other, I was signed up for that client, and the other doula skipped class to stay, even though she knew I was there, ready and waiting, and we have support for that very reason, so Birth Companions doesn’t interfere with our primary job of going to class. I’m letting it go though. The mom was supported, and I’ll have other opportunities (I just won’t sign up with this doula again. It’s nothing personal, but I don’t want to get rack-jacked out of another birth).

Even aside from Doula Drama today was not my favorite. It was Career Day at the School of Nursing, and now I’m worried about what I’m going to do with my life. It could be worse though- one of my classmates recently found out that nursing jobs don’t qualify for work visas (…for…some…reason? I don’t know why), so several of my international classmates will have to either go right into Masters programs or leave the country with degrees that won’t get them nursing jobs anywhere else. And Hopkins-level debt! I may not have a plan or any prospects, but I really don’t have it bad at all.

On the bright side- deliciousness!

I’ve been bringing beautiful yogurt parfaits for breakfast this week. From the bottom this one had frozen blueberries, yogurt, frozen raspberries, yogurt, and pomegranate arils.

Sriracha kale chips! I’m so addicted to sriracha popcorn that I knew I had to find an healthier alternative (it’s all I’ve wanted for dinner all week). These weren’t quite as good (what could be?), but they were super tasty.

I’m very on-edge this week- I think it’s the lack of tests. Hopefully that means I’ll be super zen in two weeks when finals hit.


I would like a Medal of Valor please


Tomorrow is the Career Fair at school, and while it is aimed at the traditional students my class is also welcome. Representatives from hospitals all over the country will be there, and so I’m brushing off the old resume and taking extra care with my clothes tomorrow. To that end, I was going to wash my hair after going to the gym, but when I went into the bathroom the tub was covered in what I thought was this powdery cleanser that my roommate favors (she likes to randomly sprinkle it on dirty surfaces and then walk away, leaving it for the cleaning fairies to wipe up. Or she thinks it dissolves, I don’t actually know). I struggled internally for a moment, and then decided that Tonight Was The Night, and texted her to please wipe the tub down when she uses that cleanser (this may not sound newsworthy, but I never initiate contact with my roommates unless I absolutely have to, especially when it comes to voicing complaints. I say hello if they come into the room, but that’s it). She responded that she hadn’t put down any cleanser, and upon further inspection I realized that the tub was actually covered with dried soap scum, and also disgusting. I scrubbed the whole bathroom on Sunday, and so this seemed off, but our tub drain is a disgrace, and tonight I decided enough was enough (I also don’t have any tests this week, and I didn’t want to do homework).

A quick internet search told me that baking soda and vinegar would clear a drain, and so I boiled some water and gave it a whirl. Now, I love vinegar. I love it on fries, I love it on chicken, I think it’s a pretty delightful liquid, but as a cleaning supply it kind of grosses me out. Every day when I walk through the hospital on my way to school I get a big whiff of vinegar, and I don’t know if it’s coming from the cafeteria, the bathrooms, or the florist shop, but it’s disgusting, and it taints my morning. I somehow forgot about that fact when I decided to try this plan. I also failed to consider another smell when I decided to pour boiling water down the drain of a shower shared by two girls with long hair- it was like the Hair Salon of the Damned. And then I added vinegar to the mix. And because I don’t have any wire hangers I wrapped my hand in a clorox wipe and pulled out a massive clump of hair WITH MY HAND (and yes, I know that was repetitive, but I wanted to really emphasize how horrifying it was. Also, in retrospect I do have rubber gloves that I wear when I clean Flora’s wheel. I should’ve used those, but the disgusting clump of hair will be haunting my nightmares no matter what Personal Protective Equipment I used). I’m a nursing student- I see wounds, I’ve observed surgeries, I clean up poop, and vomit, and I have to smile and act like it’s no big deal or the people responsible for the poop and vomit will feel even worse, and you know, it isn’t a big deal. I’m downright unperturbed by those things. Cleaning the drain though, almost made me throw up, it was that gross. And it isn’t even fixed! I used the better part of a box of baking soda, and it’s still not draining well (it is improved, but that just means it drains better than a sealed barrel). The process also covered my tub with a healthy scum of Evil that I now need to clean. I’m not worried about that part though- I sprinkled some cleanser.

Almost there!


I have less than two weeks of classes left (before finals, not before break). Where did this semester go? It seems like the summer just ended! I’m looking forward to the break, and I’m really looking forward to next semester (pediatrics and l&d clinical rotations!), but this is all going really fast. I’m not ready for the semester to be over- I have too many moms who either need to give birth this week or hold it until I get back from winter break.

It’s a little late, but I had a very nice Thanksgiving in Buffalo, filled with good food, and great people.

My dad bought these purple sunglasses on a recent trip to Florida. He loves them, but…

Of course after I pointed this out I was treated to four days of being serenaded with “Crocodile Rock”.

We also went to the Falls, which is always fun.

I did a bunch of cooking for the week last night, and now I have enough food to last me at least until Wednesday.

Mashed turnips with kale, brussels sprouts with apples, and a pomegranate. I also made a turkey meatloaf, but while it’s tasty (…in a way), it is not photogenic.

This is my new favorite snack- popcorn with sriracha. It’s roughly a million times more delicious than buttered popcorn, and I’m about to go make some right now.

Midwife stuff


I have two prenatal visits this week, and at least one mom ready to go at any minute. Have I mentioned lately how glad I am to be a birth companion? School is great, and I’m wicked busy (most of the time- I’ve been deliciously lazy all week), but getting to go to births is the cherry on top of what has so far been an incredible year.

I was sorry to have to leave Buffalo yesterday, but my consolation prize was getting to hang out with my friends and watch Call The Midwife. We had been talking about it for months, and I didn’t think¬† it was ever going to happen, so I watched it all on my own, but yesterday things came together. My friend Judy put out and open invitation, but it wound up only being three of us, which made things very intimate and nice. We ate homemade pizza, and leftover Thanksgiving pie, and talked about our birth companion experiences. I know my future is going to be full of evenings of food and birth stories, but that doesn’t make them any less special. Even watching Call The Midwife, which I’ve already seen and loved, was enhanced because I was watching with other birth enthusiasts.

It’s so hot in my apartment right now that I’m sitting around in shorts, and my coconut oil is in its liquid state. I’ve done laundry, and cleaned the bathroom, and now I’m bored and ready for school to start again tomorrow. Breaks are lovely, but I want to be back on schedule.

Where to go next


I did a quiz to find out where I should live and it said Connecticut, which has never even been on my radar. It might be nice though, and I do need to start thinking about applying for jobs soon-ish. People keep telling me that my Cristy,¬† Off The Map, Everwood plans of immediately jumping into working in a tiny rural community are ill-advised. I’ve never had a real career, but when I leave Hopkins in July I’ll be starting one, and that’s downright terrifying. I got over the whole living-independently thing, so that doesn’t seem scary anymore, but I don’t feel grown up enough to really be a nurse and have a real job and real coworkers (I’ve had jobs, but they were always short-term- semester and summer stuff, because my real job has always been being a student). I know my first job isn’t going to be my last, and I’m going to move on in a couple years anyway to go back to school so I can level up and become a midwife, but it’s still scary. I’m so happy at Hopkins, and it’s due almost entirely to the incredible people, so I naturally don’t want to leave. I’ve literally never felt like this before- I was thrilled to leave high school, relieved to shake the dust of Geneseo from my boots, and more than ready when it was time to say goodbye to Smith, but I finally feel like I’m in the right place and I don’t want it to end. All of this makes planning my next move really scary.

While the future is uncertain, I am still in school for the time being, and so last night I attended to some psych nursing homework and went to an AA meeting. I had never been to one before, and while the speaker was dull, the experience itself was rather interesting. It was bigger than I expected- there were probably about fifty people, and even though it was an open meeting, so non-addicts were welcome, I felt like a fraud. I couldn’t think of a graceful way of explaining that I was there as part of a school assignment, so I just didn’t say anything and let people assume that I had a drinking problem. The crowd was pretty diverse, ranging from sorority-type girls to blue collar men with mustaches, so I didn’t stand out at all, and I did my best to go unnoticed. I did have to raise my hand and say my name when they asked if anyone was there for the first time, but aside from that I just observed and was grateful for the fact that no one approached me. It was a lot like the AA meetings you see in movies and on tv- someone got up and told their story, there was a strong smell of burnt coffee, as soon as the meeting broke up everyone went outside to smoke, but I could see how it would be helpful to have a community supporting you while you get sober. I’d actually like to go to more meetings, not in a Fight Club way, just to see what they’re like, and how they’re different. Is that bad? I’m really concerned about being inappropriate or insensitive, but I’m also interested. I don’t think I’ll make a habit of it, especially not while I’m in Buffalo and worried about running into people I know, but addiction and recovery are interesting parts of the human condition, and I think learning more could help me be a better nurse.

One big push


I have to write a paper and sit for a test and then I can do whatever I want for a week (if what I want to do is listen to online lectures. At least I get to do it in my parents’ house). I’m tired, and I have some kind of mystery ailment (allergies? a cold? a sinus infection? an ear infection? Who knows, I’m just a nursing student), but I can be disciplined for another 72 hours and not only do the things I have to, but do them well.

Thursday was incredibly exciting, but recaps aren’t, so I’ll be quick. After clinical we had a simulation class at school, but my instructor let us out early to give us plenty of time to get to school and get food, and relax (it was supposed to go until 8:00, which is a long day, even for people who weren’t up all night at births). Instead of doing any of those things though, I went across the street the the hospital and attended another birth! I was lucky enough to get to be there for both of my moms, and I got to see two beautiful little girls be born in one 24-hour block. Both babies were very considerate and arrived around my schedule (baby #2 cut it close, but she came in time for me to get to my simulation). Now I’m addicted though, and want to spend all of my time in delivery rooms, forget school. It’s been days since I’ve seen a birth and I’m starting to have withdrawal symptoms. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to do after I graduate (it’s coming up scary fast), and I’ve been thinking I would like to work in an ED for a couple of years before getting my Masters in midwifery, just to shake things up, and round myself out a bit. Now I’m wondering if I want to do that. (I’m also really mixed up about where I want to live. My lease is up in May, but school goes until July. I was talking to my friend the other day, and she said she was thinking about sticking around for another year or two, and asked if I’d like to get an apartment with her and another girl from our class. And then she said we should all go to Brazil after graduation. That could be so nice! One of the things I’m dreading about school ending is leaving my friends, so it would be nice to get more time with them. I do like living in Baltimore, I just don’t know…) I thought that working as an L&D nurse would be weird and frustrating because they don’t get to stay with moms for the entire labor and they’re supposed to nudge the mom towards interventions that I don’t really believe in (gently, but nudge nevertheless), but I want to go to all the births. It doesn’t help that L&D jobs are very hard to come by, so if that’s what I really want to do I’ll have to be flexible about where I live. It’s all a little overwhelming, and really not what I should be focusing on right now anyway since I have more immediate things to deal with, but I can’t help looking ahead.



Remember on Wednesday when I said I was burned out? HA! That was nothing! The week had so much more in store for me!

Wednesday night I went to the gym with Jen and did weights, and burpees, and other sore-making things. We didn’t actually do that much, but I hurt like we did, and we made big plans for next time (rock climbing! They have belay classes every Tuesday and Wednesday, so we’re going after Thanksgiving). When I got home I did a little homework, and then sort of planked around regretting my decision to nap after class because it meant I was too awake to go to bed early for clinical. I eventually went to bed at 11:00, but I was still awake when my co-doula called at 1:30 to let me know our mom was heading to the hospital. I immediately sprang into action and threw everything I thought I might need in my backpack, figuring I would be there all night and then have to take a cab into clinical in the morning. My partner picked me up, and we headed over to the hospital. Akite (the other doula) had to park the car, so she dropped me off out front, and I went in by myself. I was pretty nervous- my last birth companions experience wasn’t very confidence-building (I stood around awkwardly until the mom asked me to leave (she had two support people in the room already so everything was already under control- I’m not just a terrible doula)), but I really liked this mom and hoped for the best. This is where things get tricky with confidentiality, so I’ll just say that what happened next- all of it- was incredible and beautiful, and joyous. Things progressed quickly, and then suddenly, just like that, there was a new person in the world, and it was amazing. Truly.

Akite and I hung around a little afterwards, but it was late, so we said goodbye and left to give the family some privacy. It was the middle of the night, but we were both energized and hungry, so we went back to her place and had turkey burgers and hung out a bit. I didn’t get home until 3:30, just around the time when I was starting to get sleepy. My alarm goes off at 5:00 on clinical days, but in my dazed state I thought I would be able to wake myself up if I just closed my eyes for a second after turning off my alarm, especially since I was still so pumped from the birth that I couldn’t even fall asleep until after 4:00. When I woke up again at 5:35 I leaped out of bed, startled out of sleep by the knowledge that I had 100% missed my bus. I waited at the bus stop anyway, just in case, but after half an hour I was cold and starting to worry about being late, so I caught a cab. Somewhere along the line I internalized the idea that cabs are Fancy, but this one was Sketchy. My past two cab rides in Baltimore have been super awkward because 1. the drivers don’t know how to get where I want to go and ask me for directions (always a bad idea), and 2. they don’t run the meter. Instead they just ask how much I usually pay. I don’t take that many cabs, so I never know what to say, and then I worry they’re ripping me off. This time I told him $10 (the cost of a cab ride from Hopkins Hospital to my apartment), figuring Sinai is probably equidistant, but he said $15, so $15 it was. I was worried he was going to murder me anyway, so since he didn’t $15 felt pretty reasonable. I somehow survived my eight-hour clinical day on less than two hours of sleep, but my day was far from over at 3:30 when we were let out…

To be continued.

What a week!


I am Burned. Out. Test on Monday, project due Tuesday, and another test today. Of course I have another test and a paper due on Monday, but after that I get to go home for Thanksgiving! I can push a little longer. I’m tired, and I’ve officially spent too much time with my study buddies (we spent eight hours together yesterday. EIGHT. On a Tuesday, which are my relaxing, sleep-gym-Gossip-Girl days (my first class isn’t until 1:30, but the teacher put the lecture online, so we studied all day. Just sitting around a table, talking about antibiotics, trying to come up with good mnemonics- by the end we were so squirrel-y and cranky we could barely sit still), but the end is in sight.

After my test this morning one of my birth companion moms texted me to let me know she’s having contractions. I really like this mom, and this is as close to perfect timing as we’re going to get, so that’s great. It’s early, so it might stop, but I’m waiting by the phone. On a related note, another one of my moms is also likely delivering today, so that’s interesting timing-wise. This kind of makes my decision to sign up for lots of moms who are all due around the same time (and around a holiday when I’ll be out of town) seem less than wise, but I’m going with it. Either way, I’m hoping for some exciting birth action tonight.


More than an inadequate brain


I’m beat. School is grinding me down, I’m always at least a little tired, and usually verging on exhausted. I keep agreeing to things I don’t really want to do (I’m spending all of Saturday in a study group. 10:00-6:00. And in order to get anything done during that time I need to spend tomorrow night outlining and studying, and listening to online class lectures. I have to study in preparation for studying. And then I’m doing another study group on Sunday. This is my life), and I haven’t been contra dancing in two weeks because I’m always tired and the idea of going out the night before my 5:00 am wake-up call is too depressing. I’m not unhappy, which I think is important to point out, because while I’m very, very tired, I’m also proud of myself for sticking with this (tuition is already paid, but this program takes a lot of emotional commitment), and I love my friends, even when they’re pressuring me to agree to spending my entire weekend inside with our noses in books. I love nursing. That doesn’t change the fact that I want to run away from home sometimes.

I haven’t been working out really, and it finally caught up with me tonight. I was supposed to go to an event with a friend, but getting dressed was miserable because I didn’t like the way I looked in anything. Scrubs are pretty forgiving, but this was a real-person event, and I wanted to look nice, but that just wasn’t happening. I tried on and took off a million combinations before settling on a blah outfit that wasn’t particularly flattering, but was acceptable because it covered me up and didn’t make me feel self-conscious. I really meant to go to the event, but while I was waiting for the bus I thought about all my homework and studying, and how much I wanted to go to the gym tonight. When the first two buses come by were full I took it as a sign, and sent my friend a very apologetic text explaining that while I would have liked to go (I didn’t lie– I would’ve liked to see her, and it sounded like an interesting event, but sometimes you just have to say no), I just couldn’t. Instead I went back home, changed into my workout clothes, and ran to the gym. It was cold and dark, but it felt incredible. The gym is about one (uphill) mile away, and when I got there I did another two and a half miles before my knee objected (it’s gotten used to my life of sloth). Three and a half miles isn’t very much, but it’s better than nothing, and it cheered me up to the point where I was happy to come home and work on a paper. I feel more balanced having run a bit- I feel more like a person and less like a greasy nursing school robot (I also had a lovely post-run shower, and actually shaved my legs. Running, leg-shaving, these things make me feel better about life, and I need to do them more often. I also need to suck it up and go to contra dancing next week. It’s not like I’m going to bed early on Wednesdays anyway). I’m glad I signed up for the gym- it’s getting dark so early these days that it’s easy to not work out, but I pay the price in my depressed mood and body dissatisfaction. Running on a treadmill isn’t so bad anyway- it’s great for sprints.

Well that looks vomitous


Always a good thought while you’re cooking dinner. I may have even said it out loud. As unappealing as my dinner looked though, it was entirely edible, if not knock-your-socks-off-incredible.

I have lots of canned pumpkin, but I never seem to use it. I made pumpkin bread for Halloween, but it takes lots of eggs, and while I keep meaning to make Emily’s pumpkin oatmeal I’ve never gotten around to it. Pumpkin is delicious, but when I had some leftover from baking I didn’t know what to do with it, and worried it would go to waste (like some hummus I made and then sort of forgot about, and have been fretting over ever since. I hate wasting food). I felt guilty every time I opened the fridge and saw the tupperware of pumpkin looking less and less appealing, but I just did not know what to do with it. Inspiration struck today in class though, when I noticed a girl eating fettuccine Alfredo. It smelled delicious, and I decided on the spot to have pasta for dinner. I don’t eat a lot of pasta, and I don’t have any sauce (there was an incident with my tomato paste, but we don’t need to go into it. Water under the bridge and all that), so I decided to invent a pumpkin pasta sauce recipe.

I looked at a couple of recipes for inspiration, but nothing struck my fancy, so I just winged it. I browned some chicken, and then put it in the oven to finish cooking (I like my chicken pretty dry), and then sauteed some garlic, and added the pumpkin. Things went downhill from there, because the skillet was too hot, and there was too much oil which made the pumpkin turn brown-ish. I didn’t have a great idea of what I wanted it to taste like, so I added red pepper flakes, and then salt and pepper, and then because it wasn’t terribly creamy-looking I glopped in some yogurt (I made yogurt this past weekend for the first time this semester). By now my pasta was done, so I drained it, and deemed my sauce “good enough”. I tossed in the chicken, and as an afterthought microwaved some frozen broccoli so there would be a veggie (I don’t have a leaf of fresh kale to my name. I have a bag of frozen, but it isn’t the same).

I was actually pleasantly surprised at the tastiness. It wasn’t incredible (I doubt I’ll be recreating this recipe, though I might try another variation- I still have all that pumpkin in the cupboard), but it was good. It paired nicely with cider too, and felt fall-ish and hearty. I have a bunch left over, so I’ll probably bring it for lunch tomorrow and Friday, and the thought of eating it again doesn’t make me sad the way it does with some experimental meals.

I ate dinner standing up in the kitchen, which is better than eating on my bed, but only barely. My roommates have set up camp at the dining room table, and it’s completely covered in their stuff. I’ll be glad when things settle down at school- I want the dining room back.