So, before I embarked on this student midwife jaunt I was a counsellor for 15 years (I did ALL sorts of counselling-general, bereavement, play therapy with children and adults, couples, mindfulness groups, Neuro Linguistic Programming, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, chronic pain management groups……no therapy stone was left unturned I was the CPD queen!) and when I started to think about retraining in a completely different profession I could not IMAGINE myself ever doing certain…..ahem….invasive procedures! I could not visualise myself (not matter how much I meditated!) as anything other than a counsellor; could not picture myself in a uniform doing medical type things!
Some may argue that rooting around in peoples subconscious’ for 15 years is pretty invasive but I was so confident and comfortable as a counsellor I was at that joyful stage of awareness/learning known as ‘unconscious competence’ so I didn’t even need to think when I was with clients anymore I just was!
So, how did I get to thinking about how being a student midwife is not obscure anymore? How did my concerns about carrying out physically invasive procedures (not just vaginal examinations but palpating women’s abdomens, venepuncture, being physically present at such a life changing event etc) suddenly pop into my consciousness again? Because, as I was clipping my name badge on my uniform on Thursday night to go on a night shift just FOUR MONTHS after starting placement the thought went through my head of “off I go to work again….” in a kind of same old same old/blasé way! WHATTTTTTTT?! HOW did this happen?! Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t thinking about it in a boring way-I was excited and apprehensive but it was NORMAL! ME putting on a uniform and heading out to ‘work’ to do all kinds of things I could not even imagine myself doing in September has become…..
This makes me wonder about how adaptable we are as human beings-is it a survival mechanism in us as social creatures that we have to create normality so we can fit in to our new surroundings? Do we/I crave normality and therefore make the abnormal/obscure fit into our frames of reference so we can feel comfortable again?
I can remember whispering to my fellow new student midwives over a pint or 2 on a ‘meet & greet’ night out before the course started “how do you feel about taking blood and doing VE’s?”; some were apprehensive like me but others were worried about other things that hadn’t crossed my mind like talking to women and holding a baby….it made me realise we all have our own hang ups but we push our boundaries, expand our comfort zone, feel the fear and do it anyway and all the other cliché’s I can think of to get us through challenging experiences! As my mentors have got to know me they’ve realised giving me a choice is not an option as I will always find an excuse to not do something I am uncomfortable with mainly for fear of hurting the woman! I tell new mentors “don’t give me a get-out clause just tell me to do it” which so far has worked well! It is likely self reflection will remain a huge part of my learning and at times, standing outside of myself and observing the student midwife stood clipping her badge on her uniform getting ready for another night shift allows me the space to remember how fortunate I am to be given the opportunity of another amazing career at this time in my life and to not take for granted any shift or any experience-whilst orange is the new black so venepuncture is the new CBT…..I may not love it but its a necessary procedure;-) Self awareness is a gift and I feel a necessity in professions such as midwifery as how can we be resilient if we aren’t self aware? I guess that is for another blog though!