Yes, it has been awhile. Time flies when you are having fun, yadda, yadda, yadda. Where have I been?
Well, this summer was filled with a Community rotation and a second Med-Surg rotation, sprinkled with travels to St. Louis and Milwaukee and Cincinnati, and neighborhood festivals and barbecues. I celebrated a birthday and hung out with my nephew. I sewed more bags, I had much-needed dates with my husband and played my ukulele in front of an audience for the first time.
This fall has been filled with courses in Women, Children and Family as well as Mental Health. It has been filled with independent hours, the quest to find cheap (or better yet, free) conferences, shadowing opportunities, online courses and movies that have been deemed acceptable by our professors. This semester has filled me with new realizations, which will lead me to new directions. This semester has been both stressful and exciting.
Let me explain:
Because I am a Psychiatric/Mental Health student, during the summer, I worked once a week at Thresholds, a social service agency for persons with severe and persistent mental illness (depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, etc.) I interacted with patients, took weights and manual blood pressures, sat in on meetings with the psychiatrist and checked blood sugars. I met with the Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner to learn about her job and created and taught a respiratory diseases (asthma, COPD) class with my colleague. It was a great experience…
…But I just wasn’t feeling inspired or excited like I was before.
At the same time, I also had an opportunity to shadow a midwife. I had been exploring nurse-midwifery as a possible career path. While I didn’t run across the street to the hospital to help with a delivery, stat!, I did measure mammas-to-be funduses (fundi?), sat in on appointments and helped translate Spanish for the midwife, which was pretty damn cool. And I got to chat with her about her job and responsibilities and I became excited and inspired again.
So, I started doing my research on what it would mean to be a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
This fall, my first rotation was second (3pm-11pm) shift in the Mother-Baby Unit at the hospital, with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable CNM named Jen as my instructor, as well as a group of great classmates. And my first day was in Labor and Delivery. Jen paired me with Monique, an L&D nurse. It was a busy day in L&D and we were running back and forth from room to room. I measured contractions, supported women during their epidurals, helped set up the room, grabbed emesis basins before getting barfed on, inserted a Foley catheter and followed my nurse like a little puppy the entire shift.
And when it was time for my patient to give birth, I was there.
And when the baby came out ten minutes later, I was there.
I witnessed this amazing, almost miraculous act.
And after the baby girl came out, I helped wipe off the vernix and blood, weighed her, listened to her heart and counted her respirations and wrapped her like a burrito and handed her to her mom.
And then my shift was over. But I could have stayed there forever. I was home.
During the rotation, I assisted mothers in breastfeeding, heard my first heart murmur in a newborn, checked infants to make sure they had five fingers and five toes, talked to excited big brothers and helped Big Sister change her Little Sister’s diaper. I palpated fontanels and give immunizations. I participated in two more births. I beamed with joy when a mom’s newborn latched for the first time. And I cried when the doctor had to tell my patient she was probably going to lose her 21 week old twins that night.
So, I started the process of switching concentrations. I still have an interest in mental health, and my interest will not be wasted. I want to do research on antepartum and postpartum depression, and I hope to educate women in symptoms and treatments.
I leave you with the birth of a baby elephant, because it is unbelievable, and another Seinfeld moment, because it’s funny:
I’m so happy for you Erika! You will make a wonderful midwife. Your so conscientious and caring. We loved the elephant birth video! By the way, those emesis basins are just too damn small!!!
Thanks! That elephant birth was amazing!
Growing up, my mom and dad had a giant barf bucket for us–it was the size of the wash basin that a patient gets in the hospital. Seeing those still makes me queasy sometimes….
Ok.. lol. I love you Erika.. all the medical terms make birthin a baby seem less appealing. lol. glad I saw it from the non-medical side of it.. lol..
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