Confidence is a tricky thing. From where does one derive it? I am an obnoxiously self-assured individual and am still finding myself feeling extremely insecure during this trying summer of isolation and expected growth. This is the time we’ve all been waiting for, right? It’s been a four year journey for me, almost to the day, since my mother-in-law looked at me and suggested I’d be a good midwife. And I decided to believe her.
It has been with the love and support of my family that I successfully made it to Vanderbilt. “Sure, completely change directions in life, we support you,” said my family. “$150,000 to follow your dreams? Go for it,” said my partner. I am seriously-hashtag-blessed. Both to have the family I grew up with and that which I have been able to make for myself. My latest home, Nashville, has brought me a group of extraordinary women I never thought would mean so much to me. It is because of you that I have made it this far in an obscenely challenging program, and it is you who I miss on these lonely nights in Tampa.
I think of the joys, sorrows, community and contention our group has dealt with and fostered and it brings me strength. I love how different we all are and how much we rely on each other. It would be an invasion of privacy to share with the web-i-verse the tender moments we are able to confide in one another via our private Facebook group, just as it would be inappropriate to share a video of my husband singing Celine Dion if such a video did exist. Point is, we are in this together and I am finally able to appreciate how much I need all of you.
I am grateful for your support and thank you all for being my friends. No one else can understand why an otherwise strong, adult woman might burst into tears whilst watching a Parks and Rec episode post-call except you (the Grand Canyon is beautiful and April and Andy love each other!) I expected this two-year detour to be a quick pause on my real life, but it has shaped me more that I realized, and for that I thank you.
This summer is hard. The insecurity is real and the self-doubt is crushing but knowing we are in this together makes it all a little easier. As a brilliant future midwife and president said — I’m not going to worry about it until it actually gets between me and the next step — I’ll be taking that advice to heart. And just in case this got a little too real and sappy, let this video assure you, my every sincere thought is dipped in sarcasm…. ❤
It has been a minute since I’ve used this space but two of my best friends have recently taken to the social media and now I’m gonna, too! Their excellent writing has impressed in me the importance of using the online to spread information about women’s health. Please check out this great blog: https://acrossthespeculum.tumblr.com/ and follow this twitter feed: @southern_stdtNM. These are two brilliant women who inspire me to be more but make me feel like I’m enough. It’s possible that I will write some about women’s health, but no promises.
A lot has happened since I’ve been away. We lived in Carolina while Jared did the MBA thing and then we backpacked around South America for a few months (cause when else are we going to have the time?) and now I live in Nashville where I’m studying to be a midwife (what?) and Jared lived in Seattle, where he works for Amazon. We also exchanged sarcastic nuptials in a bar last March. Mazel to us.
But back to being a student midwife and all the amazing women I get to grow into this role with. After spending a year becoming an RN, which included spending time with a lot of 22-year-old blonde women, I am proud to call one or two of them my friends. My other comrades in this program are older, wiser and more brunette (although the true geniuses among us remain defiantly blonde). We are a motley crew of individuals from all over the country with different goals and opinions about women’s health. How great is that?
Our group runs the gamut. We have die-hard liberals eager to take issue with the status quo as well as southern conservatives whose norms are being challenged. I believe the breadth of experiences each of us bring makes all of us better. Our differences are representative of the wide range of women we will be serving, all of whom deserve health care providers who will advocate for their wants and needs.
A brilliant friend once said, “If I’m ignorant about something don’t belittle me, educate me.” This knife cuts both ways because I know firsthand that liberal New Yorkers are just as capable of being closed-minded as conservative Texans. Being truly able to embrace newness without judgment is a skill I have yet to master, but it’s one I aspire to. We have only to gain from being open to learning from people who are different from us. It’s when we think we’ve figured it all out that we’re really missing opportunities to grow.
This program has shown me both that I know nothing, Jon Snow, and that I’m capable of literally anything. We all are. In 18 months Vanderbilt has turned 140 students, some fresh of out undergrad, into nurses on their way to becoming NPs. What’s an NP do again? They help the doctor, right? And midwives – are they really still a thing?
In a nutshell, a nurse-midwife is an advanced practice nurse just like a nurse practitioner. A nurse practitioner is an independent health care provider who can work with or without doctors in a variety of settings. Other types of nurse practitioners include those who work in primary care, those who work in acute care (the hospital), those who just see kids, those who just see older folks and those who specialize in mental health. 95% of CNMs (certified nurse midwives) work in hospitals attending vaginal births and our scope of practice includes primary care for women from puberty through menopause.
Pelvic exams, STI testing, contraception prescribing, IUD insertions, prenatal care, labor and birth support, sexual health needs, menopause symptom management — midwives do it all.