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Some of my favorite bloggers have a monthly coffee date with readers. Since most of the readers in the blog-world start out as one’s immediate friends, and then expand, this is a way to straight-talk a wide group of those close to you. Friends are those with whom you share intimacy, personal moments, and with whom you have caffeine every so often and share recent experiences. I drink chai, and would love to have monthly chai dates with you all. I hope that my friends who read the blog, and people I don’t know who are becoming friends through reading, will enjoy a monthly chai date.
If we were having chai together, I would tell you how much it has meant to have some very close friends send long-winded emails full of love for this blog, and its helpfulness to them in their first year away from school and in clinical practice. It has also been wonderful to see new people reading it thanks to the advertisement of the awesome blogger, Radical Doula, who I have followed and admired for a long time. The work I have posted here has helped me to feel connected to the wider community, feel grounded in my practice after long days, and continue to learn.
If we were having chai together, I would tell you that I have two speaking events coming up. One at a teacher-friend’s high school global symposium, talking about pregnant ladies internationally. I’m planning to give case studies of one woman giving birth in three different settings: west Africa, central America, and suburban US. The other event is a Google hangout with a friend from undergrad now in midwifery school, talking with her and her classmates about transitioning from school to practice. I would tell you, like I told her, that I am not sure what I will even say, not sure that I have enough experience to talk about this even for a hot second. But I love chatting with midwives (including future ones!), and hangout on Google we will.
If we were having chai together, I would admit that I had three experiences with doctors in the past month where I felt intimidated, silenced, and less-than. All three were men, much older than myself, and not particularly professional in the situation in which I felt demeaned. Unfortunately, all three circumstances hit me pretty hard, and sent me reeling clinically. They caused me to second-guess a lot of things: management plans, my own knowledge base, and my ability to do this first-year-of-practice thing. Does it happen? Yes. Is it fair? No. Am I developing a thicker skin along with an ability to respond on-my-feet to such comments? Here’s hoping. Did I immediately join the Advanced Practice Nurse organization in my state, rallying for APN and midwife rights in the state? You betcha.
If we were having chai together, I would really break down and tell you I had days in September where I came home and really felt like I knew nothing. I say this not to seek affirmation, but to just say it out loud and admit this personal truth. I have moments where I feel as though I am so unsure that I almost want to pause time, step out of the room and catch my breath, spend thirty minutes on Up-to-Date verifying my approach, and then spend all night researching that one topic, and see the patient again the next day. This feeling of being totally overwhelmed is only partially helped by the days where I feel confident, the visits where women say something nice about my care or how I make them feel, or when I did not have the look into my reference books for the same medication after five previous times that day. All part of making me a stronger midwife, but those were some difficult days.
If we were having chai together, I’d reveal that my first day back on the floor of labor and birth at the community hospital started yesterday. It has been six months, and I spent all day on Sunday re-practicing my suture ties, re-memorizing dosages, and reciting the lists for shoulder dystocia and postpartum hemorrhage. Excited to be back among the laboring!
If we were having chai together, I would proudly say that I was accepted into the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. Through a two-year contract at my clinics and community hospital, all Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), I will receive government funding to assist in paying off my graduate student loans. Since I still have some hefty undergraduate loans to pay off, this will be a huge help in the process. Deep breath in, breathe out some debt off the top.
If we were having chai together, I would ask about your life, your work, your family, your thoughts, and your feelings about what is to come. What is this fall bringing us after such a strange winter? What are your plans for reaching your life goals, and how can I help you on the path? What successes did you have over the past month, what travails, and what are you looking forward to?
Happy October, y’all.