Monthly chai date

20140414-181554.jpg

It’s snowing here in mid-April. Yes, really. Now that I have moved past the shock value of such an occurrence, I am working toward rationalizing its existence. Is it Mother Nature’s reminder that some things are out of our control? That just when we assume knowledge of progression, there is yet another possibility? That an enduring fact of life, like winter, or strife, or love, continues with us even when there are grander changes on the horizon? (Or maybe it’s just another week of allergy-frustration-free for my high maintenance pooch, and I should be thankful for that extra time!?)

Let us drink tea. Let us break bread, or at least clink glasses, as a symbol that we are in this together, at least for a few moments, at least for this month. What is the weather like where you are? Or, a favorite life question in my relationship, ‘How is the weather in your soul?’ Does it mirror the weather outside? Or on the inside is the sun shining bright, or rain clouds are blowing by, or are winds bringing something you can’t quite feel? How do you feel about the ways in which you are weathering your life?

Over chai, I’d admit that prioritizing things in my life is not my forte. I am great at saying “yes” to things perhaps without much attention to the grander idea that there is an overarching theme of “this matters most.” I know that my family is at the top of my list, but struggle with finding time to see them, to talk with them, to communicate to them how much I love and miss them. My partner and I routinely check-in with each other, but our grander life plan, like all other things, can become pretty mixed in the day-to-day. And I feel lost in regularly keeping in touch with my closest friends, as each of our lives find new crescendoes and adventures. Examining how I choose to spend time and money needs further attention in these coming months, because the value of being with those who energize and love and challenge and support me is worth more than anything else.

Putting down my cup, I’d acknowledge that the past month has been one of decision-making, and even more questions. What are my next plans with working at this location? I will have to decide whether to continue with my National Health Service Corps (NHSC) contract three months prior to its expiration in September. Where do I need to grow professionally? Navigating the next steps of engagement in my work and with my professional college is no small task. When do I seek input versus going with my intuition? I am still new enough in this life and in this work to question my own small steps forward, though am working to do that less often. When and where do I choose to rock the boat? Choosing my battles requires finesse but also not sitting on the sidelines, in which I regularly struggle to find the middle ground.

Here I would triumphantly lift my glass and exclaim that as of April 1st I switched from two clinics to a completely new clinic, just one, full-time. This choice was based on multiple factors: this one clinic is close to the hospital where I practice, so ideally my patients would actually choose the hospital where I work to have their baby; it is much closer to my home, and I can bike or more easily take public transit (hoping for regular biking!!!); I would be in a clinic with another midwife and my collaborating doc, which has been a struggle, especially as a new grad, to never see another midwife and to be in clinic on different days than my collaborator; and not rotating time between two clinics allows me to develop relationships with only clinic staff, and grow a clinical practice with one panel of patients. Whew. That reads like a lot, and it was. The past 17 months has been a little overwhelming in terms of commuting, divided attentions, none of my patients birthing at my hospital, and two different collaborating providers with very different styles. Ready to start fresh.

As such, I have been looking for a little forgiveness lately, as I said goodbye to patients I have gotten to know well, and missed the opportunity to say goodbye to many others. Following up on labs and referring people to other providers takes time and patience. This article hit home with me to the point where I was reading it and actively sobbing. Grateful for someone thinking to write this experience, especially from a healthcare consumer’s standpoint. Simple and powerful. It reminds me of a post I did recently about anger toward, and understanding of, the patients I serve.

The latest piano piece I am working through is G. F. Handel’s Passacaille. If only my playing fingers would work like they used to, and I am learning to handle my own impatience. It’s coming back to me slowly but surely, and thankfully those who can hear are patient and loving listeners.

What have you been reading? Books and magazines have been rocking my world. I just finished George Saunders’ Tenth of December (the title of which is my birthday), and am working through the incredible examination of humanity and our engagement with each other to which the book commands attention. I am just getting into Emily Oster’s Expecting Better, which is a careful and important examination of the words many obstetric providers say daily but forget the evidence behind. The Jan/Feb Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health includes some of the best articles I have read lately, spanning from the nonsensical use of obstetric interventions in obese women, Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) Statistics Project on planned home births, breast care in the trans population (written by a former classmate!), and cord avulsion in water birth (another former classmate!) are just a few examples. This season’s Bitch magazine is just fantastic writing and examination and criticism bound up into this moment’s feminist reader time capsule – subscribe if you don’t already.

Thanks to tweeting at a recent conference, I won a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Many loyal Facebook readers commented on what great feminist or reproductive health reads could be one the list, and here is what I decided on: feminist theory, from margin to center by bell hooks, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire, Witches, Nurses, and Midwives: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, and lastly a book I have been wanting for a while, Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. Let the growth begin!

Gulping my chai in an effort to get a jolt of caffeine into my tired body, I’d share that I have just spent two weeks traveling to conferences to complete this year’s continuing education requirements, as well as spend the money I’m allotted to my professional development. I am so thankful for that time, but very much ready to be home. These next few weeks will be heavily focused on preparing a number of projects for the ACNM Meeting in Denver, but I’m looking forward to it! Hoping that I’ll see many of you there! Considering a similar contest to last year to give out bags

Have you eaten the Milk Chocolate Smashing Smores from Trader Joe’s? If not, talk to me again when you do. Among three grown adults, an entire contained disappeared in the span of an hour. Oh, and then I found this homemade version

Likely I’d be exchanging knitting needles with my chai cup, because I am proud to say that knitting and I are getting back into the swing of things. I have a few projects I am working on, mostly for babies. But then, as all things go, at a knitting store I spotted a beautifully-dyed yarn I just couldn’t walk away from, and then found a one-skein cowl on Ravelry that will be mine for next winter!

This morning while walking the dog I spotted two new, glittery, tiny, brightly painted birdhouses hanging in the trees. Then I thought about the babies we catch who grow up to be people who paint glittery, tiny birdhouses and think to hang them in the trees. And the snow that falls on those birdhouses when least expected, then the sun that shines on them the next day.

Finishing our chai and our conversation, I would gladly share that my partner and I used to read one poem each night before sleeping, and we are trying to get back into the habit. Last night we read Mary Oliver’s One or Two Things from Dream Work. Today it’s my favorite poem, and it resonates with the month’s themes. I’ll leave you with an excerpt:

3
The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now,

and never once mentioned forever…

Is weather interrupting your life, or is how you’re weathering life an example to the rest of us? Are you cherishing the now? Are books and language and music and what you do with your hands strengthening your foundation? What language or event is resonating with you lately? And how will you incorporate that into what comes next?

See you next month,

Stephanie

Leave a Reply