Like heat, We Rise

Over the past few days, I have seen an outpouring of strength from my colleagues. The unit has been exceptionally busy, and the only real complaint I’ve heard from anyone is why don’t they make bras that actually deal with a lagoon of underboob sweat. “Humidititties” as a Tumblr post calls it.

Seriously. Someone get on that.

We jokingly expect September and October to be the busiest months, you know? The alcohol is flowing at Christmas, the weather is too cold for people to go out, and everyone is a bit more flexible over their approach to contraception because of it. Nine-ish months later? BOOM! Internal emails from the Tetris Champions: the rota staff asking if there are extra people available to work shifts. So what’s going on? A birth partner asked me recently if I thought it was the hot weather bringing on labour.

That would be an interesting method of induction wouldn’t it? A stint in the sauna. “Come to our birth unit. SWEAT YO BABY OUTTA THERE”

Perhaps it’s sheer will power? If looks could kill, I would have a deadly army of pregnant women at the end of a whatsapp message. 37+ weeks pregnant and all you need to do to arm that killer glance is to ask a woman in my caseload “So how are you coping with the heat?”.

“Very ready for baby+++” I write diplomatically in their notes.

In all seriousness though, there has been a study looking at birth rates and gestations during hotter months; their hypotheses include a reduced blood flow to the uterus (caused by increased temperatures) can instigate the uterus to start contracting. They also discuss their findings of hot weather causing stress which can induce labour.

As with all studies, it’s not 100% conclusive, but can give us clues as to why the shift leaders have to prepare every board like Ben Affleck in The Accountant.

Meanwhile, back at the unit, dozens of midwives, doctors and staff are just getting on with it. Not complaining about how busy it is, just marvelling at how everyone else is coping and trying to provide the best service for families.

Because you know what? Babies are still being born. You can’t stop the beat. We all know that babies don’t get the memo about bed states, or the capacity of neonatal unit, or how many birth pools are already being used. So what’s the use in mithering? Nothing.

Find you a pack of people who not only give a shit about each other, but give a shit about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. It will make those obstacles something impressive to look back on when you all finally get to stop running and look back at what you over came together.

H xx

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Sleep, perchance to dream…of all the things that haunt your waking hours

Oh boy

Last night’s dreams were awful – it was a laundry line of everything that causes me severe insecurity:

Physical, career, and relationships.

It’s not good mental health practice or me to detail it here at this moment in time, but suffice to say when I woke up I had that emotionally and physically drained feeling which only three things could begin to resolve.

A long shower
Usually when I feel like crap, a long shower, a deliberate cry (try it, it’s cathartic) can make me start to feel better. The tension is released and I can face things again; but as I said, I was feeling emotionally drained. This was a job for Spotify.

Singing

Oftentimes when I am feeling awful or sad I listen to Talk Sport, or French LW radio because I associate music with emotions and don’t want them resurrected when I hear that song again. That’s why it was the right thing to do this morning – to feel something, not the emptiness and uselessness I felt when I woke up. A big thank you to Alanis, Counting Crows, the casts of Hamilton and Pitch Perfect, Dusty, The Hollies, and Phil Collins. You won’t see me on X-Factor, but I’m not gonna lie – I can sing.

A girl gotta belt.

While not singing I was able to think. To work out what had made me dream those things and could I do anything about it immediately? No, not really. Then I need to bring back the *click* where I disappear those insecurities or problems and they can all go fuckitty bye for now.
I thought rationally and logically, and managed to stop the self comparison, and insecurity.

Coffee

I have a proper coffee machine and after a fair few weeks of practise (no, WordPress that is not a spelling error. Spelling it with a “c” is a noun or professional practice. To spell it with an “s” is  verb), I have managed to make a great cup of coffee with hot, frothy milk.
I drank this in the kitchen belting out more music and making one for AWT.

 

I don’t feel better, as in, I am not cured – but I feel like I made practical steps to changing things and it worked a bit.

 

Yeesh – life is hard!

H xx

 

How to stop feeling like shit – not a guide

This isn’t a guide, and it isn’t a review of the (brilliant) audiobook either.

It’s more of a reflection on how this book is making me feel so far; I hate reflections – mainly because I often don’t like what I see, either aesthetically, or emotionally. It’s really hard to do sometimes.

Andrea Owen (the author) is basically a witch of some kind; she has gathered the sacred knowledge of how shitty that women can often feel about themselves, bundled it all together, worked out how to feel less shit, and is talking to us. This is ace.

Of all the behaviours it lists, I feel I score wonderfully strongly in the “comparing yourself to others” (see previous post), and self-sabotage.

Why? WHY AM I LIKE THIS?

Let’s not delve into that nightmarish rabbit warren just now, shall we?

But let’s look at the self-saboteur; I like to hear when I have done something well, I mean, it affirms that I am moving in the right direction, or that I have made a positive impact on someone, or that I have overcome a challenge.

So why do I then spend so long wondering how I have managed to fool people into believing I can do what I do.

As you know – I am a midwife. Sometimes I wonder #howthefuckdidIgetadegree, and also how did I get a job, not to mention how do I still have a job? But I do. and Andrea says something that made me laugh out loud as I was listening – to assume that I have not achieved those things, or that I am not maintaining those things shows a hell of a disregard for the people with whom I work – staff and families alike.

She says something along the lines of managing to hoodwink all of those people, and to keep up that facade is either a huge 24/7 toil, or you think they are all really really dumb not to have noticed you aren’t what you are.

Now, I would be too exhausted to keep that up, and I work with some incredibly intelligent, and intuitive people – they would have sussed me out a long time ago.

 

So having removed the impossible, we are left with the inevitable.

I am a midwife

I am not a shit one

I deserve to experience what I have achieved

 

Let’s just leave the personal relationships for another time – aka “They must be humouring me” “I am sure this is all a joke”, “Why would that person like me of their own volition”

 

My brain hurts, but in the same way muscles do after they have worked hard at the gym

 

 

H xx

 

Just stop it (an open letter to myself)

 

Dear Heather,

 

At the risk of sounding like a trite meme: you are enough. You are so enough it’s incredible how enough you are.

I know you have been keeping a journal for the past week (you wrote in it every day too, kudos), and I know the main theme. You constantly compare yourself to others, and seek their approval.

Aren’t you tired? Rhetorical, obvs, because, well, I am you.

 

Someone runs a busier, more efficient clinic? So what?

You’re way heavier than you were 8 years ago, well, yeah, that’s how life goes sometimes.

The entire world is engaged and/or married and/or pregnant. The fact that you are writing this means you need to focus on one person for a while, yooooou.

Bored of being at home and missing “Home”? Then get out and do things – you can’t expect the mountain to come to you without writing it an invitation.

 

Look, Instagram and Facebook are the absolute best at making us feel the worst; people rarely describe exactly how inadequate they felt at work, the arguments they have had with their significant other, mis-behaving hair, or any of the other bull shit.

It doesn’t mean that this isn’t happening, it just means that they are being positive, or faking it til they make it.

Seriously, stop being so hard on yourself

 

Heather (the sensible voice that actually gets drowned out by that other spiteful voice in your head waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much)

 

Here’s to the dads.

 

Oxytocin_with_labels

(^ Oxytocin – the closest thing to magic that is produced by the human body)

 

Here’s to the dads whose faces light up when they first lay eyes upon their son or daughter as they arrive in this world.

Here’s to the dads who visibly marvel at the women who have grown and nurtured this baby with their own bodies.

Here’s to the dads who openly weep as their emotions find no words to carry them.

Here’s to the dads who worry that their own giddy state will cause them to lop off a child’s limb as you gently indicate where they can cut the umbilical cord.

Here’s to the dads who share in their partner’s joy at the wriggling, confused human before them.

Here’s to the dads who hold these children with equal parts love and strength and a commitment to never let harm come to them.

Here’s to the dads who ask you jovially: “What’s that in English?” as you tell them the weight of their child in grammes, so that they can share the news with impatiently waiting family and friends.

Here’s to the dads whose faces are nothing short of incredulous as you handle their baby confidently and carefully to check that there are all the bits there visibly should be, and none of the bits there shouldn’t.

Here’s to the dads who look at a nappy with the eyes of someone whose just been given a project with no instructions, or pattern to follow, but does it anyway and does a fine job

Here’s to the dads who hold baby aloft like Rafiki, only to hear that rumble of thunder from that clean nappy.

Here’s to the dads who apologise for every question that they think they should already know.

Here’s to the dads who all have the same face when those tiny fingers wrap themselves around his own, seemingly giant finger.

Here’s to the dads who don’t call looking after their own child “babysitting”

Here’s to the dads who don’t hunt down the teenager who breaks their son’s heart

Here’s to the dads who show their daughters that they deserve respect and equality

Here’s to the dads who teach their children about consent, and love.

Here’s to the dads who do the job of an absent mother

Here’s to the dads who are actually mums who stepped up

Here’s to the dads whom are there from their child’s first breath

Here’s to the dads who have to witness their child’s last breath

Here’s to the dads who stay silent in a birth room, like the heart beat of their child whom they’ve never met.

Here’s to the dads who don’t know what to say to the woman they love as she births this baby born sleeping with everything that she is

Here’s to the dads who only get to hold their babies for what seems like a nanosecond. A drop in the ocean compared with what should be a childhood of firsts

Here’s to the dads who will never get to hold their daughters hoping to heal their broken hearts

Here’s to the dads who will never get to read their sons a bedtime story

Here’s to the dads who would trade everything to hear their own child laugh

Here’s to the dads.

Here’s to all of you.

 

Thank you for letting me a part of your lives, even just for a short time. I mean it when I say it’s a privilege to have witnessed you becoming a father

 

MHJ xxx

 

Not about politics. Promise

Sup, followers / casual readers?

 

Apologies for the silence for the past couple of weeks, but I have been doing the do. aka being a midwife.

I know, I know, other midwives manage to blog and be amazing and change the world overnight – but I’m here feeling like I’ve won the day if I remember to take my work shoes to work.
Which I didn’t yesterday.

I’ve mentioned before that my new job is in a Trust which is not where I trained, and while the core principles are the same, subtle and savage differences have left me feeling like a 2nd year student on a couple of occasions.

The most reassuring thing is that I work with colleagues who pretty much tell me “Heather, same same, but different, but same!”. A crisis of confidence is causing this – I keep second guessing myself – I rattle off my plans to anyone who will listen and then look for someone who will cannulate (I can’t yet), set up IVs (I can’t yet), sort out the online prescribed drugs (awaiting IT thumbs up), descend like an angel to do an ARM through a woman’s 1-2cm dilated cervix (thank you, AO!).

Basically, I feel like a freaking burden in a lot of ways at the minute, and that vindictive voice in the back of my head (the one I have gagged for months and months by feeling like I’m winning a bit) has woken up with a fresh batch of disdain and vitriol at the ready.

Essentially, care of the woman is the same wherever you are, but there is no denying that correct and accurate record keeping, ANTT, and policy is essential.

I need to stop being so bloody hard on myself, but with no peers at the minute (everyone has at least 6 months more experience), it’s difficult to gauge my progress.

My Bishop’s score is approximately 2. And I need to get a fucking grip

Bleeping Edna…

edna

 

MHJ xx

Diary of a Newly Qualified Midwife: Day 5

Day 5: “Hello, Labour Ward, Midwife”

Yep. I uttered those words today and I’m damned if I didnt get a lump in my throat just after I did.

That’s the first time I’ve ever said that phrase and I know I’ve banged on about feeling like a fraud, and worrying about having forgotten everything, but that short sentence triggered something in me today.

I’m here. I’ve made it. Now it’s time to realise it.

I’m not going to disclose details about the women I’ve been a part of caring for today, suffice to say that my much commented upon “you talk a lot” way of practicing (aye, there were some mentors who think bedside manner is an optional extra) was very well received by all three.

Smug much? Yeah. I am. 

What I love about working where I’ve started my career is that not only are we seeing a lot of women with complex co-morbidities  (stuff wot is wrong with them), but the staff are outrageously helpful and generous with their time.and manner. Thank goodness! 

I may have passed the toilet 3 times before I realised where the toilet was, but I’m also starting to gather my bearings. Which even just at the start of the week, I never thought I would manage.  Watch this space, and expect a blog post in the not too distant future which may come from a locked stationery cupboard. Probably.

I worked with a midwife today who is soon off to the hospital where I trained so we were swapping knowledge and acclimatising one another. There was lovely staff room conversation about a summer event so that newbies and multi disciplinary teams, and core staff can intermingle – there is talk of bavarian beer venues and much fun. I am so up for that.

But as well as the kindness of people, there was the professionalism – I was spoken to as a professional and given directions and care plans by doctors because I am a midwife and … it still took a while to click.

However that wondrous utterance of the sentence on the phone, was surpassed only by signing my name in notes, printing it…and putting (RM).

I currently love life

H xx

Diary of  a Newly Qualified Midwife: Day 4

Day 4: PROMPT

Since Tuesday when I got my timetable, I have been dreading today. Yes. Two days. 

PROMPT, for those who don’t know, is PRactical Obstetric Multi Professional Training. Doctors, midwives, and students come together and have a couple of seminars and practical exercises in the morning, and then in the afternoon you are plonked into unfolding scenarios – each being an obstetric emergency, with potential differential diagnoses.

Your mission (and you *have* to accept it, so suck it up, buttercup) is to use the skills base in your TEAM to identify the diagnosis and act and treat the woman, and/or child.

Amma just hiiiiide in this bag. Kthxbai

It’s ok for me to have been crapping myself over it; I havent practised in a while, and other people who *have* were there and I was worried I would finally be outed as the fraud I still feel I am. 

So that didn’t happen, I confidently resolved a shoulder dystocia 

(Image: https://www.babycentre.co.uk/i/article/shoulder_dystocia_colour-2.gif)

I assisted a woman to birth her breech baby…well an interactive model of a pelvis and legs and baby

How breech babies lie (image: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/blogs-prod-media/us/uploads/2015/07/27102220/breech-baby-position-650×446.jpg)

And resuscitated various size humans – also mannequins.

This was not an emergency, but “baby in a bag” is one I would resolve, because I’m professional like that 

The afternoon went pretty swimmingly, and I assumed my role as junior midwife, taking on tasks I was assigned and feeling comfortable but constatly listening to those more experienced to learn the care planning.

You know what? I knew way more than I thought I did, and never felt stupid asking any questions. That is why days like this work: they’re a practical learning environment where it’s ok to stop and ask questions.

This is a day where we refresh our knowledge on how to take action when a situation deviates from normal. 

Yeah, I said normal. Deal with it.

H xx

Diary of a Newly Qualified Midwife: Day 3

Day 3: Lady bits

Should I have rephrased that? Something more professional? Ok. 

Day 3: Suturing and catheterisation.

Due to my diverse employment history, I have professional sewing experience. While you may laugh at the fact that it was in The Bear Factory, it enabled me to learn how to bring fur-lined edges together.

And yes, I’ve worn the suit.

I enjoyed suturing at Uni and as a student, but it’s been a hell of long time since I was needle in clamp, so my needle point was more geared to this

(A favourite quote of mine, by the way)

Annnnnyway, after having a session using the needle clamps and tongs and feeling like I was in a really specific Japanese gameshow, I felt much better about knots and layers. Yay me.

Catheterisation is something I know and can do, (I’ve done it in theatre with a whole team waiting for me and I didnt die. That’s a big deal) so no great shakes there – and as we don’t have to deal with penises, it’s a lot simpler. I have, however, been on a previous hunt for a woman’s urethra. I know where it *should* be, but goddamn if I could find that little bugger.

More e-learning in the afternoon and then home to find my PrOMPT book in one of a dozen boxes yet to be unpacked as it’s obstetric emergencies day tomorrow.

Obstetric emergencies got me like this:

So I might be in a puddle tomorrow.

H xx

Diary of a Newly Qualified Midwife: Day 2

Day 2: Unit orientation

Today was very different from yesterday indeed.

I met a couple of dozen lovely people who are my new colleagues ( I am a midwife, I am a midwife, I am a midwife), I got to see another lovely woman from my uni cohort as I was taken on the full tour of the unit and I discovered I already knew all the names of everyone in my induction group…because it’s just me!

That’s right. Billy No Mates RM

So when I first realised this, I felt a bit like I was a nuisance as everyone was giving me individual tutelage on various aspects of the job. Then I realised what a privilege it is as all the questions are mine, the equipment is mine and I could stay in one or two rooms for induction as I only require one seat (despite my best efforts at McDonald’s).

We talked about rotas and holiday and pay schedules (I am a midwife, I am a midwife, I am a midwife). I got a great paperwork pack and everyone I met was hugely welcoming. I surprised a consultant by returning his French conversation with my own (not too shabby) French and not being laughed at although I may now have to increase my obstetrics vocabulary.

I left to head to Paperchase to get a file for my competency paperwork and documentation and was still managing to feel like a fraud and abit overwhelmed with informatjon and floor plans (I am a midwife. I am a midwife. I am a midwife) when I encountered an actual puppy

and suddenly everything was ok 🙂

Tomorrow I have a suturing workshop (whaddup, Bear Factory skills?!), catheterisation refresher, and a small mountain or e-learning to crack on with. An e-mountain. Not Everest.

Looking forward to it!
Xx