Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Plain Truth


            I have thought many times about what I would say in this last blog.  As that my journey as a midwifery student has ended, but my journey as a new Certified Nurse Midwife has just begun.  The job search has not been an easy task.  As that, our national certification exam, NM license, and other professional necessities to practice as a CNM has taken time and money to attain. With that said... up to this point I've avoided talking about the specifics of my daily life while in school, only because I wanted you my invisible readers to get a sense of my personal thoughts on each life altering event I encountered.  What I hoped to capture in my blog was how each interaction effects us all on a personal level and that the person we see on the surface is not all that they are.  Each woman has her own story. We all have an undercurrent of emotions and thoughts that we let few people see and I felt privileged to have been allowed into the sacred circle of trust of each woman I cared for while in school.  This is what I value and find most fulfilling about being a midwife.

            With that said, I now find it necessary to discuss my life as a midwifery student.  Like many women who have families and who have decided to take the plunge to follow their dreams, I to took this plunge....and lived to tell about it.... For me to go on this journey, I said many prayers and had many silent moments of reverence while on the 1 hr and 30 min drive to Albuquerque for class.  Yes, that is right, I did not live in the city where my classes took place.  Some programs can get away with mostly on-line classes for students who live a distance like myself, but this was not one of those programs.  Granted some classes were on-line, but I'd advise those of you considering programs of the on-line nature...Student interaction in a classroom settings is vital and necessary for this kind of work.  The way our classes were set up at UNM, we had block schedules, meaning 3 weeks of class from 8 am to 5pm..then 6 weeks of clinical at a site..then class again. So basically I would drive down daily for classes and back again the same day.  My mornings started at 4:30am and ended around 11pm.  Upon returning home, I had some time with my family, but most of my evenings were spent at our dinner table reading or writing up papers for class.  Because I was determined to make things less stressful for my husband, I continued to work as a labor and delivery nurse on the weekends and during school breaks.  Even at work, when things were slow, I would use the time to study.  Still the extra money I was making as a nurse was not enough to support our family.  I took it upon myself to apply to as many scholarships as I could.  I called this my part-time job.  When I had my exit interview with Julie, my wonderful and amazing professor, she said out of all her students I had received the most scholarships she has ever seen...still this was not enough...  I also received graduate school loans and my husband had a full-time job. Because I was very enthusiastic about the work I was going to be doing, I took time out of my busy schedule to do out reach to talk to young Native American students at a local school in Albuquerque about traditional Navajo birth practices and to students coming to UNM for a visit.  For my friends who didn't hear from me during this time..this is why.  I was not avoiding you, I was just crazy busy.  Most of the time after a busy day at the clinic, hospital or class, I was a senseless blob on the couch..or wanted to be.         
Chinle, Arizona

         You are probably wondering with all the financial support I got..where did it all go?  Well, as that I was not home all the time I had to set up dependable after school care for my kids, at which I spent 9 thousand dollars on this for one year.   I also had to have my appendicts surgically removed and I spent a lot of money on gas traveling to and from school.  I am thankful that I had wonderful and amazing friends who let me crash at their homes in Albuquerque during clinical and block classes, because I don't know how I would have done it without them.  UNM is one of the best midwifery schools in the nation and one of the reasons why is that it focuses on training midwifery students to provide care in rural settings.  Which means, 2 out of the 3 clinical sites had to be out of the city.  As a student in this program, that means we had to find places to live at each clinical site and pay out of our own pockets for housing, food and gas. Just to give you an idea where we could be sent for this on site training, here is a list of some of the places...Los Alamos, Las Cruces, Belen, Socorro, Shiprock, Gallup..NM.  Texas, Arizona (Fort Defiance, Chinle, Tuba City)....and out east at a birth center.
         Before applying to this program, I had to also make sure my support system (my husband and kids) had a support system.  I sat down and visited with my husbands parents.  I told them about my plan to become a midwife and how much we were going to need their support while I was in school.  Parents being parents, they were cautious and asked repeatedly if this was the right time for me to return to school.  At the time, I don't think they understood my deep desire and need to do this, but thankfully in the end, they where there for us in every way possible.  From cooking dinner, to picking up our kids from school when my husband had to stay and work.  I will forever be thankful for all the sacrifices everyone made so that I could become a midwife.
Blessing of the Hands and Pinning Ceremony
          I am telling you this because in order for me become a midwife, I needed to have a good support system in place and the financial means to pay for childcare, gas, food, and travel while in school.  These things are vital to the success of anyone considering becoming a midwife.  When I first applied to this program, the four things they asked me during my interview were 1) how do you coup with stress, 2) do you have a good support system, 3) are you planning to work during school (if so..STRONGLY advised not to)...yeah I didn't listen to this advice... 4)..lastly are you willing to travel.  Thinking back to that first interview with my future faculty, I can honestly say..... I didn't know what I was in for.  I just knew I was going to do what ever it takes to make it work.  
        I now understand why more women have not chosen this type of work for themselves and also why there are so few Native American midwives.  It is grueling work with sometimes impossible expectations...and that was just my training.  I hope you know, while reading about my travels and experiences and my sacrifices..that those of us who have chosen to take on this impossible task of being the hands to help bring life into this world, we do it because we were called to it...
        As that support is vital to all midwives health and well-being, I wanted this blog to be a sounding block and hopefully my way of telling midwifery students and especially native american women considering midwifery, that you are not alone.  Whether you are in the throws of block or clinical, or wondering how you are going to get childcare for your kids while having to live miles away from them for will get through this, if you believe in the spiritual world (as I do) our ancestors are always looking out for you...and if you find yourself on this path and wondering if you belong on it, you wouldn't be here if you weren't mean't to be here. yourself and your instincts, they never steer you wrong.
        Many blessings to everyone!  Remembering the beautiful Navajo journey song Ursula sang for us at our blessing of the hands after she blessed us with cedar and corn pollen to send us on our way.  I may start another blog...but we will see what the future has in store.



  1. Hello!
    I just read your whole blog tonight, and I wanted to say that I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for sharing all that! It was so informative, especially the parts about providing care in a rural setting. It reinforced my idea that I want to become a midwife to provide care to women living in rural areas. It also reminded me of the importance of being culturally sensitive. Thank you!

  2. I'm so glad you could take away something from my personal passage into become a midwife. I hope you are not alone on your journey and that there is always something to learn in every interaction. Blessings on our journey to becoming a midwife..

  3. Hi, Nice site I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing. Would it be possible if I contact you through your email? Please email me back. Thanks!

    Aaron Grey
    aarongrey112 at