Tomorrow is a big day. January 19th (not 18th) marks the sixth month of me working as a CNM. It went by so incredibly fast. Last year at this time I was just beginning to learn how to deliver babies and never dreamed that I would be where I am today. As I ponder over the last six months, I feel compelled to share the lessons I have learned. Especially since I know a new midwife class is beginning integration and may travel down a road similar to mine. Here you go...
1. You will NOT know everything when you graduate. It doesn't matter how great your education was and how good your grades were. Midwifery is a learning process ALWAYS.
2. Since you won't know everything, say so. I have found that my patients are okay when I say, "I don't know, but I will find out." One of my biggest fears was looking incompetent. Incompetency comes with making mistakes you could have avoided by asking for help.
3. The anticipation of the pager going off at 2 am is worse than when it actually happens. I spent my first few months unable to sleep because I was anxious about maybe getting called for a delivery in the wee hours of the night. I mean, didn't we become midwives just to get these calls?? The anxiety does go away as does the fear of not sleeping. I have found I can survive on little sleep and that for now sleepless nights are few and far between (check back in March when I have 10 patients due )
4. Trust your gut. You know that little voice that says "stop, listen, act?" Don't ignore it.. I have listened and have gotten patients referred to physicians or specialists as needed and may have changed outcomes. It's an immense responsibility, but so worth it.
5. Be open-minded about how you practice as a midwife compared to how others practice. I have found that we all have something to learn from one another. I learn everyday from my doctors and fellow midwives but would like to think I have enlightened them in some way too.
6. Love your job. I have to admit that for the first few months I drove to work with dread and extreme nausea. I was perhaps letting my fear and anxiety get in the way of me enjoying what I do. There are still days that are more stressful than others but each day I try to remind myself that it was my passion for women's health and the birth process that brought me here. I can now say that I do love what I do and really mean it.
7. Don't forget to live your life. Okay, so the last few months were mostly in survival mode. I realize that six months went by and my children have grown six months older. I have to admit there were nights that all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. I may have neglected family and friends.. Now I am striving to be more outgoing, be more involved and go on dates with my husband.
I have quite a few patients that are in their sixth or seventh month. I feel a certain kinship with them as they have been with me since the beginning of my journey as I have been with them on theirs. We share amazement as to how fast the last six months have gone by. While I am settling into my role, they are preparing for a new one.
So for those students that may be reading this and know me personally. These next six months may be the hardest months of your student career. Learn all you can and keep an open mind about all of your experiences. It is difficult at first, but it does get easier and it's so rewarding on the "other side."