Is a phrase I hear all the time when people ask me what I do. Or whilst at work and talking to families, its something that people say a lot. When I first decided to become a midwife, I reckon every other person said 'ooh I'd like to do that'. When I decided to become a midwife, it was at a point in my life where it was do it now or don't ever do it.
Here's where I was at. I'd just had my second baby, I was working as a receptionist in a GP surgery. I'd always liked the idea of becoming a midwife since school age. I didn't do it back then because actually, I had no drive but to do anything other than earn money quickly (which is why I ended up in a dead end factory job at 17). I'd have fallen at the first hurdle if I'd have done it at 17, no way would I have had the drive, determination or like experiences that have got me through the training.
I had become a little bored with my receptionist job, I'd come back from maternity leave after having Kooks. Having her strengthened that desire to become a midwife because we had a lot of problems with her, she had an abnormality that needed corrective surgery as soon as she was born and the frequent scans, antenatal checks, seeing specialists actually interested me alongside being devastated and worried about her abnormality. Take this, along with recovering from an emergency c section in hospital 40 miles from home and receiving shockingly poor care, I thought once I had returned to work – sod it. Lets do this. My doctor colleagues and the in house midwife really encouraged me and I was lucky to have them to give me the final push. Me and miller were thinking of buying our first house, so we knew if I did it then that would have to be put on hold. I'm still not sure if I regret that decision on not buying but still, another story for another day.
So here I was – 28 years young, no qualifications that counted and a huge desire to fulfil my need. I won't call it a dream because A) that's corny and B) it wasn't my dream. I wanted to become a midwife, it was my plan. I'm a bit like a dog with a bone when I set my heart on doing something, my career change was no different. So I left my job, enrolled on a college course to gain me necessary entry qualifications and then applied to university. I had a 5 1/2 year old and a 18month old. I juggled. We had lost an income so I joined the nurse bank at the hospital and did night shifts as a health care assistant to bring some money in. I can't tell you how much I hated it. I spent all week studying and then all weekend nights working night shifts. I juggled some more. I hated the work, take my hat off to the men and women who do the job because I lasted about 9 months before calling time on that job on the side.
I applied and got into university on my first attempt, I was lucky. Bournemouth have about 1000 applicants, interview around 400 and have 40 places approximately. Then the real challenge came. Midwifery training is the hardest thing I've had to do in my life, it sucked the life out of me, broke my family up on two occasions and changed me as a person. What it also did was make me a stronger person and made me believe in myself. I hadn't been good at anything throughout my life, least of all academically. Yet here I was on a degree course getting reasonable academic marks. I used to sit up until 4am drinking red bull writing essays. Juggling lots of balls. I'd work shifts and get that valuable hands on experience. Ill never forget my first 'catch' – a vaginal twin delivery. What a way to start! There were so many highs and so many lows of my training. Ill never forget that couple I looked after who'd lost their baby in the second trimester, my first experience of still birth. Absolutely heart breaking. I couldn't believe when that couple sent me flowers, that in the midst of their pain and anguish they thought of me and my mentor. Attending a baby's funeral is surreal and so very painful. Watching those parents pain is gut wrenching? These are the lows that people forget about that being a midwife involves. Just when you think you can't take no more you'll bet your bottom dollar that something will pick you back up just as quick as it pulled you down.
I qualified with a first class honours (sorry I HAD to mention that). I gave myself six months when I first started the training, then six more, then six more. You get the drift. I couldn't bear to look at results of essays or exams in case I'd failed. I'd squeeze one eye open when I was alone in the corridor to see – I wanted 40% or over so it was a pass. I didn't expect anymore of myself. I was one of those who was probably labeled at being a factory worker all my life whilst at school. I didn't expect to get through three years of hard graft without someone tapping me on the shoulder and telling me they'd made a mistake and I wasn't actually supposed to be there.
Then you get that PIN from the NMC. Yay you can work. I got a job where I trained. The best place to work. Honestly, I can never see myself leaving. Its small, but cosy and in comparison to what I heard others say throughout their training we are looked after. I also don't eat cake every day like the way it's been edited on 'one born every minute'. I also don't do it for the money. I'm not greedy but the responsibility of it doesn't match the wage. I'm not saying anyone isn't worthy of their wage, but when a bike 'vet' charges £25 per hour to oil some chains, fix a puncture and replace a brake cable, I'm astounded. I don't get that for being on call in the middle of the night at a home birth. I wish.
The hard work really does start once qualified as you're on your own. Then the 'I'd love to do your job' lines really start and you want to condense everything I've written up there in 3 words, but you can't. Midwifery is one of those occupations where folks look on dreamily but the reality is very different. I'm not saying its all bad, but its bloody hard work. Some days the sheer level of responsibility hits you. You're responsible for not one person, but also that baby inside the woman's tummy or if you're working on the post natal ward the baby sleeping (ok, probably not sleeping) next to her. People do forget that if we make a mistake it can be catastrophic. Mistakes do happen, we are human after all. But sometimes even the most perfect labour and birth can suprise you when the next minute you're asking the dad to pull the emergency bell quickly. Litigation is always on our minds sadly.
Then other days I love my job. Mostly I love it. I really do, but can I add that I rarely hold or cuddle babies. Why is it people think that's all we do? I love a squidge of a newborn but we don't often get time, plus the baby should be lay on its mummy's chest having some skin to skin or feeding. I love making a difference to a family, making their experience a positive one, or showing them that they're being looked after the way they want to be. Watching two become three is magical – or three become four etc. Ill never get bored of that side of the job, ever. I try and make a difference whatever I do. It feels right, not forced. When it becomes forced or I'm not enjoying it anymore then I'll stop. I never want to be one of those midwives I was on the receiving end of when I had Kooks. I have never told a woman off for asking for pain releif, I've never told her she shouldn't be in scbu with her poorly baby if she wants pain relief at 2pm. I'll never make her feel like she should self discharge after a day there, and recovering from a traumatic time. Like I said I'll give up before then. It's the woman's experience, she's at a vulnerable time, she will remember that time forever and sometimes the smallest thing will stay with her, so make sure its a positive thing and not a negative one. Every midwife should remember this.
So here I am, two years down the line. I keep a register of my births to remind me when I'm old how many babies I caught. I've got my own student now to mentor. Now that feels odd! Little me teaching someone how to find her way in the world of midwifery? Eek. Family life is much better, my relationship with Miller did suffer but we've pulled through many obstacles and I'm pretty sure many couples would've broken completely but we've pulled back and sorted things out. Remember what I said about being like a dog with a bone? I'm stronger, were stronger and our experiences have actually learnt us some valuable lessons.
Here is the blog post that prompted me to write this blog post today. Its fab, I'm going to look up some older posts of hers.
Via the gas and air blog I also came across this blog – vintage midwife. I'm two posts in and loving it.
Take a gander at them both. Gas and air also has a Facebook pages. Give it a like.
Enjoy peeps and remember the next time you think you'd love to do someone's job, it may not all be as it seems 🙂