Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Strange encounter

I'm sure we all have these days.... Days were you just don't quite feel so good, so motivated, so happy. I felt okay and then an encounter happened. One that if it had happened on a good day would not have made me feel as hurt as it did. I was asked by my next preceptor to edit my biography page (something they hang-up at the practice office) because a couple of the things were considered inappropriate and unprofessional. After she made her point, I kind of agreed with her (I said that one of my interests was being a groupie to my partner's bands) It was in a humorous tone but I guess it could be interpreted that I enjoy hanging out at bars while I wait for women to call me to deliver their babies. Although I understood her point, I felt completely judged and strangely, a little violated. I probably need not feel this way, but I have never met her before - this was my first encounter with my next preceptor; just not the warm fuzzies I was hoping for I guess? It triggered something in me; a realization that throughout this program I am constantly judged and critiqued and I am finally so sick of it. I just want to have my credentials and work. I am so tired of having someone, perhaps someone I may not even like, analyze me and because of the nature of midwifery, these judgments somehow end up feeling personal. I guess I am just having one of those days...

My experience as a visitor in my city

I am currently following a nurse practitioner who works in the shelter health network in Hamilton. I observe her at her work. I get exposure to some of the shelters in Hamilton. Some of them are nice, some are cramped. The family centre on Wentworth Street is very nice; it is set up with apartments that entire families can stay in for up to 6 weeks. There are good communal spaces and activities for families that honour multiculturalism and community. There is always a pot of coffee on. This makes me happy because I have seen many things that are sad; not that people are by any stretch pathetic or need pity, but lots of people have suffered many things and I accumulate these stories all day and I just come home and feel heavy. Because it is strange to come home to my TV and food after being with people who jump through hoops, stand in lines, remain on waiting lists, to get things, things they probably truly don't want, but that is what they can get. The world is not a really fair place, is it?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Strong women stories

I have grown and learned so much this placement and although I tell you all bits and peices, it is truly difficult for me to express the depth of my experiences with Sunday evening chats, so hooray for blogs.
I have done some neat things; I delivered an upside-down baby (not breech but posterior), otherwise known as "sunny-side up". It was a nice surprise, the woman pushed like a champion for 2 hours which really is average for a first baby so I am quite amazed! I have delivered a baby pretty much on my own, I have started IVs, I have given so many drugs through IV, I have sutured and tied knots and really grown in my confidence and skills.
But enough about me, really, I need to honour the strength of the women whom I am so honoured to help:
1: This young woman laboured and delivered with our support and no pain medications. Her husband was a bit useless in terms of providing support, asking me inappropriate, irrelevant questions while she was contracting and while I was talking her through them; I guess midwives truly need all sorts of skills. Some of which I clearly picked up while working at The Freeway.
2: I have experience my first significant post partum hemorrhage. I was with the woman all day (relieving the midwives who were with her all night). She had an epidural but still felt quite a bit of pain and an extrememly long labour. She started to develop a fever and her baby's heart rate started to go up with it. We got antibiotics in her and after talking with the OB, decided a vaccuum to c-section would be the best planned sequence to get the baby out. She did end up having a vaccum delivery which is great but her bleeding did not stop. She was panicked and in so much pain and could not even meet her baby right away; he needed a little bit of resuscitation but thankfully was fine. While being born his shoulders were stuck for a little bit and she required a huge episiotomy. Coming into the labour, she had low blood platelets. All of these things play a contributing role into a postpartum bleed. It was scary for me to see the nurses go through all of the lines of action; all of the drugs to stop bleeding, starting a second IV, the OB manually removed clots and bimanually compressed the uterus and by the end she needed a transfusion and some oxygen. I felt so helpless as I held her baby and repeatedly checked his temperature to make sure he didn't have the fever his mother presented with. I was also trying to communicate with the father what was happening in a sensitive and appropriate way - trying not to worry him until needed sort of thing. Thankfully, bleeding was stable after loosing an estimated 1500ml , she became stable and baby was stable. She is currently breastfeeding and fine, amazing.
3: Another significant birth for me was more recent. I pretty much managed everything on my own; the induction, the IV, the meds, the monitoring, the support, the catheterization... She had a 17 hour labour so I felt good by the time pushing came and we were worried that this would also be long. One push, she stretched her tissue right out, so impressive! A few more pushes and I could start to see the head appear and then retreat. I called the second midwife while my preceptor went to update the nurses. With more pushes, the head stayed crowning so I decided to put my gloves on. A few more pushes and the baby was born; our second midwife did not get there in time so I was the primary and my preceptor was the second. It was quite exciting. I am so happy for her to have pushed her baby out, she felt so defeated throughout her long, slow labour. She was young and it was truly beautiful for her to feel empowered in that way, she is also breastfeeding which thrills her and me of course. She has had and continues to have a difficult journey and it is strange and amazing that I can be such a supportive role - it really reinforces why I am doing this.

Monday, October 08, 2007


I have been to three births! I felt more like a real midwife at each one; I feel less like a scared kid and more like a grown-up. I think this program is kicking my growing up into high gear because I have to feel grown up; I am responsible for two lives! But you know what? It feels right!
The births were great and I got some good feedback from the ladies re; labour support etc. I also got to practice some serious skills; catches, blood draws, inserting catheters, IV stuff (not starts yet but that's ok).
I feel relieved and excited again and I made it through this weekend without a single night's sleep; would sleep 3 hours, pager goes off at 3 am, get home during the day, nap for 2-3 hours and go to bed, pager goes off at 3 again. But, it's GRRRRRREAT!!!!!

Monday, October 01, 2007


The midwifery program is sooooooo hard. I am feeling worn out and I haven't even been to a birth.
I think having had a brutal cold for the past week has something to do with it (Pernell, Margie, Jen, you know what I am talking about)
This is going to be my rant about how being a student sucks but.... but.... it will be followed by future notes on how exhilerating and exciting this profession is....

You are constantly under scrutiny; the way you talk, dress, and definetly what you know is always being evaluated for clinical knowledge and skills, interprofessionalism, decision making skills, etc......
Well, my preceptors are quite nice, but even so, this dynamic still makes me uncontrollably nervous; I never feel like I can just be myself.
You are constantly new; new clinic; where is this and that???? Where is this form? How do I use this fax machine, this autoclave???? Like a first day on the job... but for the whole placement and just when you are starting to feel comfortable, you pack up and move to next placement.
You are constantly new: I say this again because as a student you are thrown into a very personal space with women; women that real midwives have been getting to know over the course of their care. All of a sudden you are the one conducting their visits and asking questions about bowel movements and breastfeeding and sometimes, well most of the time, I just feel like a tool, or a fake. This has just not been coming naturally.
You are constantly waiting for that pager to go off; The pinnacle of the midwifery placement; seeing birth. Yes, it is exciting but believe it or not, three weeks into placement, I have not been to a single birth. Most of my peers have been to 3 or 4. Now normally I wouldn't worry because this sort of thing is essentially outside of my control but my passing grade depends on my attendance as the primary care provider at 12 births by December 6th, what? Am I going to be able to take anyime off call???? I dunno? And, I have been invited to attend births with other midwives but they have actually forgotten to page me when the time came, nice.... So, I made an effort, but to no avail.
Births again.... As I wait for that pager to go off, I am in this realm of anticipation where anxiety and nerves get the better of me. I mean, I hardly know the women whose births are imminent and I guess it is just my personality, but I get more nervous providing care such as labour support and assessments (ie; vaginal exams) to women I know less well; I think this is simply exaggerated by my status as a student -- women have less confidence in my skills and I have less confidence in my skills which just makes things a little more awkward.
Being a student also sucks because we have to follow a fulltime midwife and go home and write papers which I actually enjoy because I get to reflect on knowledge but I just always feel like I am never getting on top of what I should know. I will study something, and a few months later, I forget, but the thing is.... I need to know everything I am studying, ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
Being a student also sucks because your learning opportunities are granted from very busy real midwives and I often feel like a little kid tugging on my mother's skirt asking for preceptor time; I don't think they mean it, but students really are not a big priority.
I will grow up one day and be a midwife but this transformation feels at times grueling and I haven't even complained about sleepless nights at births.... That actually would be kinda nice....
I think things will start looking up, I'm just feeling a bit down right now.
But thank god it's autumn and all the good tv shows are on tv again. YES!

Go to Thai Memory

Thai Memory is the most beautiful restaurant I have ever been to. The food is quite fresh and the flavours are interesting. Please go check it out; it is on King William near James.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Do do do do doo doo do!

Hola friends!
I will soon be catching babies again in Hamilton so I will have many stories to share.
You may have heard, Adrian and I are moving in together. (My Christian relatives cannot find out) Despite belief that living with significant other prior to marriage ends in tears, recent studies suggest that 55% of those couples marry within 5 years. I find that reassuring. Thanks to everyone for their support. AND, Ophelia Syndrome is playing Cafe on King in Cambridge on Tuesday the 28th at 9ish, please come, they are awesome. Tori Amos influenced jazzy music!!!! wahoo!!!!
PS: I miss Kevin, the day he left I was sent an external hard drive I cannot figure out how to use... Who else misses the Chen?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bits and Bites

I have moved back to Hamilton
Beginning of May
Previous tenants had not moved out or cleaned out my room
They are digusting
Adrian helped me sweep up balls and balls of cat hair.
I continued to clean the rest of the house... Found a dead, flattened mouse under the couch, ew.....
Once it is a clean, it is a lovely old house from the 1880s. New housemates are nice, all is well.

Mini vacation to the States
Cousin getting married in Delaware, drive to NJ first to stop at their house and spend the night. I have the flu and I cannot eat anything.
Anything I eat stays in my tummy like a rock for hours upon hours... Needless to say, nothing properly passed through. Wedding lovely, at a fancy hotel called hotel Dupont, the same Dupont as the chemical company, ew.
Mini excursion to NYC. Still sick, not eating, weak and tired, grrrrr.
Bus to NYC, walk to 30th and 8th avenue where our hostel was situated. I did not realize the gravity of our situation until we tried sleeping there that night. Very small, seemed clean but who really knows and the bunk bed kept tangling my hair!!!!! (the metal frame)
We did some fun stuff like a gallery or two, central park, The Staten Island Ferry and walking through Greenich Village but all in all, I wasn't loving the trop, I guess being sick and all an was looking forward to going home.

And Adrian and I are celebrating our one year anniversary. As I enter my room for the first time since being away I find a bouqet of pink Gerbera daisies on my bed. Part two, Adrian takes me to build a bear where we each build a cute teddybear. Part 3, Adrian takes me to the Rex in Toronto which was amazing, cozy, good food and home made desserts while listening to great Brazilian jazz.
Went to friends wedding, super fun, open bar, nice speeches.
Head to Ophelia Syndrome's gig. Packed bar, they were encored. They are gonna be famous, I love all of their songs, everyone has to see them next time they play, you will get hooked.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My Oma's birthday

A couple of weekends ago my family and I celebrated my Oma's 80th birthday with her, it was lovely. I have cousins my age that I don't see very often and I have a good time with them. We also ate lots of torte; German cakes galore!!!!
My life is entering another phase; my Opa was shaved by my family members at the dinner table. It was quite funny and sentimental but my Opa, the German pilot from World War 2, who went into a Russian battlefield with hundreds of men and came out as one of 9 with some metal prizes sent into his ass, prisoner of war survivor, up at 6am to do his exercises and shovel the driveway in a blizzard up until recently, is now frail and old. He recently had a stroke and is loosing much of his function and strength. He is still the sweet, strong Opa that I love, actually cuter now in his helplessness but it was strange seeing him in his helplessness. My tante Monica was cutting his crazy white hair, my dad shaving his face and my Unkle Jens holding the plug for the razor in the wall. Recently we have been looking at retirement homes because he is becoming too much for my Oma to care for. It is weird, a sign that life is moving on. People are born and people die, so simple but something we so rarely think about, even as a midwifery student surrounded by birth all the time.

Ouch, my soul hurts

Right now, supposed to be studying but I am relaxing on this Saturday evening with my brothers and Bonnie (Brandon's girlfriend). We just watched Fast Food Nation and my soul is disturbed. I already am a vegetarian thank god but I really need to stop buying leather and be quite vigilante about other things like gelatin and cosmetics because I really want nothing to do with slaughterhouses. How have humans become so demoralized or is this just the way we are? We have always killed one another and killed animals but when have what we killed become dehumanized, reduced to objects and killed in a mechanized, sterilized way so that our own consciousness fails to be involved. This movie is meant to disturb and to "enlighten" the viewer on a variety of issues; eg: that other people whom were born into different circumstances are forced to work jobs that endanger their lives and health without any insurance. Why do we live like this? Why is this the easier, more advanced way? This quote is meant to be ironic but Jesus is rolling in his grave. All the goddesses of all spiritual paths moan and lament. We are so cruel to one another.