Category Archives: Midwifery

False peace

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I had my last final today, which filled me with a very misleading sense of freedom. I still have to wake up at 5:30 for clinical tomorrow and Friday, despite feeling like I should be on summer vacation. I don’t have any homework though, so after my test and Transitions interview (which I think went well, though I kind of doubt I’ll get a pediatric psych rotation) I felt free to come home and plank to my heart’s content. This took the form of going to the grocery store, watching The L Word, and going to the gym for an extreme HITT class. I was the only person who showed up, but the instructor held class anyway, and gave me one heck of a workout. I feel all noodle-y, but in an accomplished, satisfied way. I need more workouts like that. I’d like to go to Spinning tomorrow, but I’m not making any plans because I’m on Baby Time- one of my moms is in labor-ish, and so I have to be ready to rush to the hospital at a moment’s notice. It hasn’t actually been that long at all, but it feels like I haven’t been at a birth in eons, and I’m excited, especially because this mom is delightful. Of course being on call means I can’t drink to celebrate the end of exams, but it’s worth it, and I have a pleasant alternative.
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Kombucha! This is my first time trying the High Country kind, and I like it. It’s actually more boozy than I’m used to- it tastes a lot like a raspberry wheat beer (it only contains less than 0.5% alcohol though, so doesn’t count as drinking). It’s also less vinegar-y than other brands that I’ve tried, and less mucus-y, which is nice. I love kombucha, but there’s always that element of anxiety that I’ll get a mouthful of cultures, which is always a shock. It looks like there are a lot of great flavors, and I’d especially like to try the chai spice one (this warm weather has me craving iced chai. They sell dirty chais at the coffee shop in the study center and it’s the best vehicle for coffee I’ve ever had), but they only carry elderberry and goji berry at the grocery store, so I’ll just have to keep any eye out.
I also treated myself to a delightful post-test Reuben for lunch, so I’m having a very delicious day.
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I’m pretty sure the 1,000 Island dressing is the best part, but the whole concept is just awesome. Reubens might be my favorite sandwich. It’s a bold statement, and there are lots of strong contenders, but there’s a real case to be made.
Walking to the gym having a mental conversation with my friend (I want to tell him he’s been making me unhappy, but I stink at expressing hurt feelings in a constructive way so instead I’m just pretending to tell him in the hopes that will help me feel better) I decided that I’m usually at a baseline of 7.5-8/10 happiness. That doesn’t seem like that much happiness, but it’s a baseline, so if something good happens (as is frequently the case) I bump up to 8.5-9.5 (and maybe an occasional 10). Right now, sitting on my bedroom floor, listening to The Civil Wars, feeling tired, and warm, and utterly at peace feels pretty terrific- 9.4, easy.

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The time I ordered salad and water on a date

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Today is such a beautiful day. I woke up late (around 8:45, which isn’t that late, but I felt like Rip Van Winkle), and the sun was streaming through my windows as a sign of good things to come. I was with a Birth Companions mom yesterday, and had popped home to get some rest with the expectation that she would call me in the wee hours of the morning, but that call didn’t come (this baby isn’t in any hurry, and still hasn’t made their debut), so I got a solid nine hours of desperately needed sleep
My friend Maria and I went to the Farmer’s Market this morning, and I stocked up. I feel like I’m waking up from hibernating- I hadn’t been to the market in forever, and it was great to be back in my normal routine. I bought eggs, and onions, and garlic, and sweet and red potatoes, and the first kale that I’ve had in ages. The mom texted me while I was still out shopping, so I cut things short and went home to drop off my groceries and then went to the hospital.
(Because things are moving so slowly I’m at school, kind of studying, but mostly blogging. Things have been happening, and I haven’t been writing about them, but I’m trying to catch up.)
So. There’s a boy. That sounds a little more serious than it is, but we’ve been out several times, and I’m warming to him. He’s very sweet, and I’m really trying to give this a reasonable chance. It’s hard though! I carry a lot of neuroses around, and sometimes they bleed out a little, like the other night that inspired this post’s title. It wasn’t meant to be a thing- I don’t do that bit where I refuse to eat like my normal self in front of boys, but we had plans to go to a concert, and I didn’t realize that we were also getting dinner, so I had a snack beforehand, and my friends keep eating delicious-looking salads in front of me, so that’s what I wanted. The water thing was because I was on call for a birth- I had a mom who was being induced that night, and I didn’t think it was likely that I’d be called in, but it was a possibility, so I didn’t want to drink. It sounds so innocent, but then our meals came, and I looked at his plate and beer, and my plate and water and felt silly and self-conscious. Most of the time things are comfortable and nice though, and I’m pleased that this is happening.
I’m also moving to Alaska. That should probably get higher billing, but instead I’m slipping it in at the end of a post about dating and births because it’s so big. My family is having Feelings about it, and I’m sure as it gets closer I will too, but right now I just feel certain that it’s the best thing I can do for myself. I’m not even questioning it- I just know that I should go live in Alaska for a little while. I have reasons- there are lots of nursing jobs (and lots of L&D nursing jobs at that), and the pay is good, and it’s an adventure. I want to go places, and be out of my element, and totally uproot my life while I’m still unattached and can do that kind of thing. Plus there are the Northern Lights, and salmon, and summer days when the sun never goes down (and winter days when it never comes up, but that’s beside the point). I think it’ll be a really great thing, and I’m excited.

More Love

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I had my first rugby practice in years last night, and it was great. I’m entirely out of shape, but I  had a ton of fun, and got super muddy. Practice goes until 9:00, and at the end of the night I tumbled into bed, feeling grateful for hot showers and soft sheets. This feeling lasted until 5:24 in the morning, when my phone rang, summoning me to a birth. Because I suck I didn’t have any cash, so I had to go to two different ATMs to get cab fare, but I arrived at the hospital at 6:00, just in time to see my client get her epidural. I have mixed feelings about epidurals, partly because I’ve seen them really help moms who didn’t feel like being in pain. Most of the time I think it’s possible to have a good labor without one, but not everyone feels that way, and it isn’t my call. It makes me feel like a bad doula when my moms get epidurals, but I think that’s more about peer pressure and my own baggage than anything else, and so I always support my moms to do whatever feels right. This mom eventually wound up having a C-section (so much doula guilt!), but the end result was a stunningly beautiful baby, so alls well that ends well, and I feel great about things. I stuck with this family for 12 hours (which is going to be my life after graduation. I can’t even deal with how long 12 hours is), and it was wonderful. There are times when I question whether I’m actually helping anyone with my doula-ing, but I think it makes a real difference, even if I’m just keeping people company. The dad today told me I have a very peaceful, calming presence, which is sort of what I’m going for, so I was pleased. I love what I do, and I’m glad when I’m able to help people.

My friend Maria came contra dancing tonight for the first time. It was a smaller crowd this week, and more normal, and less supermegaawesomefun, but I had a good time. Peter Parker was there again, and he was endearing and kind of cheesy (in a sweet way). I’d like to spend more time with him- he doesn’t make me feel floaty and enamored the way other people do, but I’m not sure those feelings are the basis for a real relationship anyway. I haven’t decided whether I’ll go dancing tomorrow or not- there’s rugby practice, which is free, and important (although I can honest-to-goodness barely walk. I always forget how punishing it is at the beginning of the season), but I loved the band when I saw them last week, and I love dancing. I have all of tomorrow to think about it though, so I don’t need to decide anything just yet. Either way, I’m entirely exhausted, and praying no one goes into labor tonight.

If only

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Spring Break is a cruel tease- if only life were always like this! My parents came to visit, I went to a parade (and got my first sunburn of the season- I have tan lines on my chest from my necklace), and had a game night with my friends with Chinese food and natty boh (it turns out that Outburst is super fun. I bought it at a garage sale over the summer, but last night was the first time I ever played. The best part? My game is from 1986, so all the answers are super dated). Today I slept in, and then spent the better part of the day with a laboring mom. It isn’t even about the leisure (though I love the leisure)- I’d be happy if I had a job that I went to, and just had my weekends off, with the freedom to do fun things and not worry about tests and homework. Things could be so good if we were all already nurses, and weren’t going to scatter soon.

All this free time gave me the opportunity to take pictures of my food! I love Costco so much- I’m going to need to get my own membership at some point, because it’s just incredible.

004Breakfast consisted of a pear (from Costco- I was a little ambitious with the produce, so now I’m averaging two pears a day to stay on top of them), strawberry oatmeal, and a cup of lemon tea.

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Lunch started with two clementines (not pictured, since I was at the hospital), a spinach a goat cheese sandwich, and roasted seaweed snacks.

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I was still hungry afterwards, so I had another clementine, and some peanut butter pretzel nuggets.

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Those are dangerous. The seaweed is my new favorite thing though.

I’m going out for a movie night with some friends soon, so I ate a quick dinner of stir-fry broccoli (my chicken is still defrosting, but I might have something more later).

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I did the broccoli with my a hoisin-esque sauce (sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, sriracha, maple syrup, and minced garlic), but it was way too salty. I’ll tweak the proportions next time.

Boy!

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I’ve been to a few births in my day, but up until now they’ve all been baby girls. Today though, I got to see my first boy birth (and my first vacuum extraction, which was much less horrifying than I expected. I was picturing a brain-drain situation).

It isn’t actually like that.

For the sake of privacy, I won’t go into details, but even though I wouldn’t describe it as a gentle birth, it was still beautiful and special and made me cry. And then there was a baby boy! The biggest difference that I noticed with a boy versus a girl was that the baby immediately sent an arc of pee into the air (girls don’t usually do that), but otherwise it was pretty much the same. Sugar and spice or puppy dog tails, newborns look pretty gender-neutral.

While I love birth (oh man, I totally do), I don’t think I love Labor & Delivery nursing. I like being around laboring women, and I love the sound of babies’ first cries as they come out, and the kind of musky smell of birth (too much? Maybe too much. Nursing is very full of smells though, so it’s something I think about), but I don’t really look forward to going to clinical the way I did when I was in peds. I didn’t have a patient for the first half of the day today, and I actually wished I could go downstairs and do peds for the day, like old times. I’ll talk birth all day, and I was happy to stay late and listen to a lactation expert talk to us about breastfeeding, but L&D…just doesn’t quite speak to me. I feel like I’m on the outside- I prefer being a doula, and getting to connect with the mom, and not feel like a big buttinski when I tell her that she’s strong, and capable of pushing her baby out, no matter how hard it is (I do it anyway, but it isn’t the same). I’m not changing paths- I didn’t come this far to decide to pass on the whole nursing thing, but I want to be the boss. I want to catch the babies. This isn’t really news, but I’m pretty sure I would rather do another kind of nursing until I’m a midwife (with some doula-ing thrown in on the side. I’m a little sorry now that I’m not going for my DONA certification, but not sorry enough to shell out).

I actually made myself dinner tonight! I’ve gotten into the unfortunate habit of not doing that, but tonight I had meat, starch, and veggies, just like a real person (well, eaten standing up in the kitchen, but closer to real-person status than I’ve been lately)! It was actually nice- I should do it more often. I also baked, because today was one of my clinical groupmates’ birthday, but she didn’t mention it until post-conference, so I didn’t know to make anything before. All in all, I’d say today was pretty solid- I was mature in the face of disappointment (well…mature-ish. I didn’t love not having a patient for the first half of clinical- I’m there to work with patients), I saw a crazy birth, I got to play with a placenta (!), and I played around in the kitchen. What more can a girl ask for?

 

D&D

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Sometimes there are just too many attractive options. There are some Saturdays that are terrible, and boring, and I sit around feeling lonely and grumpy, but today was not one of them. Today I got to spend two hours at a prenatal with one of my Birth Companion moms, falling absolutely in love with her and her family, and getting incredibly psyched for her birth. I love Birth Companions so much- I have like eight moms right now, and because I’m staying over Spring Break I’m hoping to cover a lot of births. I think I’ll have to keep doula-ing after school, because it’s just so darn fulfilling. I opted to not become DONA certified (it’s a giant hassle-there are all kinds of persnickety rules), but even though I don’t want to hang a shingle and do it full-time, I love attending births in a non-medical, purely supportive manner- it’s way better than being an L&D nurse as far as I can tell.

I had two attractive offers for how to spend the rest of my afternoon, and I opted to play Dungeons and Dragons with a bunch of friends. It was my first ever time playing, and I didn’t think I would like it at all, but I wanted to at least try. I think it can be really complicated and stupid if you play with the wrong group, but my friend Alex made my character for me (halfling thief), and was very nice and gave me all kinds of neat skills (and a magic bag that I can use to summon any animal (depending on what I roll- I don’t get to pick what comes out, and I wound up with a goat and a ram when I used it, which aren’t very good helpers)). Alex was the Dungeon Master, and he was absolutely perfect at it- he does voices, and sound effects, and because most of the players were new to the game he was very patient, and encouraging. The whole thing made me really appreciate how great he is, and how glad I am to be his friend, and that’s always a nice feeling. We played for hours, and the game isn’t even close to over, but eventually people had to get back to their real lives, so we’ll pick up again next time. Our game was about helping a village that is being threatened by vampires, and as silly as it sounds (and is), it was still exciting and fun. There are lots of rules, and my character is pretty useless in battle, but no one minded that I wasn’t a killing machine, and everyone enjoyed my random animals. It’s obviously super nerdy, but I had an absolute ball, and I’m excited to play again.

Full Friday

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Today pretty much ruled. It was my first real day on the L&D unit, and I got to see a birth! It was the only birth of the day, so it felt pretty shiny, and the mom was incredible. It’s a very different experience attending a birth as a nursing student instead of a doula- I felt like I was much more of an outsider- normally I’m part of the mom’s space, and she wants me there, and I’m there for her, to support her, but today it was about watching more than anything else- I mostly kept quiet and just observed. It was kind of a perfect birth actually- the mom had the best epidural I’ve ever seen, and the pushing went really well (and quickly!), and then there was this beautiful little baby. I’ve seen four births now (and they’re all been girls), but it never fails to choke me up- it’s honestly the most beautiful, incredible thing in the world, even from my outsider’s perspective (it’s more special when you’re a doula, and connected to the mom, but I still almost cried today when the baby was born, it was just lovely). I got to do the newborn assessment, and give the eye prophylaxis, and vitamin K shot, which were fairly atraumatic (for me as well as the baby, who barely cried), and even though I know it’s reflexive, I love how babies grab onto your finger- it’s just about the sweetest thing ever (followed by a cat resting its head on you and falling asleep. I’m a sucker for trusting gestures). I know not every day will be like today, but so far I love my OB rotation.

After clinical I came home and crashed for a few hours, then cleaned up the apartment. I’ve been slacking in that department lately, so it felt nice to straighten up a bit- it’s a small apartment, so a little mess can get out of hand pretty quickly. My friends Scott and Judy invited me out to dinner, so they came by around 7:00, and we went out to Towson for sushi (there was some song and dance about going somewhere else, but Scott and I are both always in the mood for sushi, so it was a foregone conclusion). I hadn’t seen Scott and Judy in ages, so it was really nice to catch up, and we talked a lot about job searching, and cats, and Hopkins’ current scandal (which is very sad, and pretty disturbing). I spent so much time thinking I hated sushi, when in fact it’s so darn good! We always order too much (especially since we also get seaweed salads, which are one of my favorite foods), so I actually have some leftovers in the fridge now, which I think will make a nice breakfast tomorrow (it isn’t a traditional breakfast food, but it’s healthier than pancakes).

Now I’m settled in for the night, pajamas, on, good book at the ready for a bit of reading before bed. It would’ve been hard to have a better Friday than the one I had.

Yawn

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Today has been a long, long day. I started the morning on a series of low notes (trying to watch the new episode of Downton Abbey before my 10:00 class simply does not work- I always have to leave mid-way through, and I don’t have enough time to print my notes before the printing frenzy starts), but somehow emerged in a reasonably reasonable mood anyway. This I think was due to the fact that today was my first day of Nursing for the Childbearing Family- a.k.a. BABIES. We watched two birth videos in class, and I almost teared up both times- there’s really nothing like birth to brighten a day. I wasn’t feeling very excited about this class actually, because I sort of think being an L&D nurse would just frustrate me when what I really want to be is a midwife (and L&D nurses have to do all kinds of things I disagree with, like pushing getting drugs, and not letting moms hold their babies as soon as they come out (they’re supposed to be gooey!) My instructor is a midwife, and she feels the same way about a lot of this stuff though (she actually said that taking away a healthy baby and wrecking that first moment is a shitty thing to do, and if you do it without having a darn good reason birth work isn’t for you), and so now I feel better (she’s also a birth companions leader). I’ve been having a lot of Feelings about this class, but I’ve decided to like it. The important thing is not to compare my experience with anyone else’s (which is a good rule of thumb for life in general). It isn’t a race to see as many births as possible, it’s about helping families have their best possible births.

Right now I’m tired, and trying to work up the motivation to empty the dish drain so I have somewhere to put the dishes that need to be washed. And shower. It isn’t going too well, especially since I’ve rediscovered how great Little Mosque on the Prairie is (and the whole series is on Hulu). Man, do I love Canadian TV. And British TV- the Downton finale was so good! I don’t want to risk spoiling anything, but I thought it was a really solid episode, and I’m really starting to like Thomas. Scotland kind of stole the show though, and now I want a shaggy pony with short little legs to ride around on through fields of heather. Doesn’t that sound nice? Scottish dancing looks pretty sweet too- I think my path is clear and I should run away to Scotland.

 

Back with a vengance

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Three of my Birth Companion moms went into labor while I was out of town for the holidays (two on Christmas Eve), requiring me to scramble to find someone to cover for me, and so when the call came on Tuesday night that a mom was in labor I knew I owed it to the universe to help a fellow doula out and pay back a smidge of my karmic debt. The mom was at a hospital that’s about forty minutes away from my apartment, but her doula was sick and no one else was available to go, so I got dressed (the call came around 11:30 at night) and headed out the ATM for cab fare. It’s easy catching a cab in my neighborhood, and I got one within minutes of getting my cash, which was a relief, since while my neighborhood is safe, I felt a little uneasy walking around with enough cab fare in my pocket to get my to Columbia (about $70. The actual ride cost $60 with tip, but I didn’t want to come up short) at 11:30 at night. I was a little worried the driver wouldn’t take me all the way out to Columbia, but he was actually pretty nice, and even offered to wait for me in case I needed a ride back.

I had never met the laboring mom before, but it was less awkward than I would have guessed. She was in early labor, and was slightly apologetic that I had come so early since she didn’t expect anything to happen for several hours, but within minutes of my arrival she changed her mind and was glad to have a doula with her. I was with her from a little after midnight until 9:00 the next morning, and we spent almost the entire time swaying, with her arms draped across her boyfriend’s shoulders and me applying counter-pressure to her lower back. It reminded me of a middle school dance almost, the way we were moving all together, with everyone rocking their hips. I absolutely love being a doula. It’s the best. On the long, long list of reasons I’m glad I came to Hopkins, Birth Companions is close to the top, and nights like that are why. I love going to births, and I’d do it for free (I’m hoping to eventually get paid- Birth Companions does pay once you’ve completed certain requirements), but I prefer it when I feel as though I’m helping by being there, and I’m not just there because it’s fun. I would (and hopefully will) be very happy doing birth work for the rest of my life, but I’d also like to be good at it. I’d like people to be glad I was with them for their labors and births, and this mom was, which was great.

This semester promises to be every bit as challenging as the last one. I’ve only had one day of classes (I sort of sometimes have Thursdays off, which is great for contra dancing, but there will be occasional weeks when I’ll have extra clinical stuff to do on those days. Still, it’s better than a poke in the eye), and I already have a quiz due tonight, another tomorrow, and two homework assignments. I’m happy to be back in the swing of things though- as hard as it was leaving Buffalo after the holidays, I love my routine here.

Every time

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Every time I spend time with a group of more than two of my classmates I’m struck by how very very happy I am here, and how lucky I am to go to school with such delightful people. It never gets old.

Last night was the end-of-the-semester party (well, one of them, but the one I was interested in attending. There was another one on Thursday night with beer pong and blackouts, but that isn’t really my scene). My friend Marlon hosted the end-of-the-semester party over the summer too, and he’s really a terrific host and went all out, even buying an eight-foot fir tree for us to decorate. It was a pretty intimate party- there were only two people there when I arrived (it eventually filled up to maybe fifteen or twenty), but that was perfect because it wasn’t too loud, and everyone could chat and maneuver around, and it didn’t turn into wild partiers dancing in the living room and older students (and me, because I’m old at heart) mingling in the kitchen. I didn’t take any pictures because I was DJ for the night, so my phone was hooked up to the stereo, playing She & Him and Cajun Christmas carols (I love running the music!), but the tree looked great. Marlon has lots of fancy ornaments, and no small children or pets to break things, so we could put pretty things on lower branches for the first time in my life.

Everyone was still a little shell-shocked from finals, so the party didn’t go very late, but it was just the right amount of time. We talked, and ate (Marlon loves Costco, and so there were all kinds of nice cheeses and things), and trimmed a tree, and it was lovely. Without getting too too “God bless us, every one”, I’m just going to say that I’m very fortunate to be where I am.

I’m glad to be on break, but I was bored out of my mind yesterday and didn’t do anything productive. Today is going to be different though, because I’m going to go thrifting and then hopefully to a birth (a mom texted me last night but she said she didn’t want me to come yet, which was perfect because I was drinking). I also need to drink a little starch (metaphorical starch) and deal with a big ugly thing that has been looming over my head, sword of Damocles-style.