PHOTO: Justine Kurkland via Mystic Mamma
Guess what? I’m a Registered Nurse!
I left my exam thinking I failed. Like really truly failed. In my car, through teary eyes, I texted my best friend from school whom had already taken and passed the exam. She wrote back that she totally felt the exact same way when she walked out. She was sure I passed. This made my drive home a little more hopeful though still I was dubious. Time slugged along and finally Friday afternoon, and the posting of unofficial results, came. Bracing myself for the worst, I logged onto the NCLEX website…
I freaking passed.
I shrieked. I cried. Really, I wept. I hugged my husband. I kept weeping. And I stuttered through my tears how I really did it. I actually went to nursing school and became a nurse. I did it. I did it. I did it.
The feeling of accomplishment, a kind of astonishment at myself and what I had achieved, is not a feeling I will soon forget. I was a very heavily history, English and arts focused kid through high school and college. My first bachelor’s in photojournalism and magazine writing is from a school that requires students to only take one science class; I took “Weather.” To have worked my way through a very math and science oriented program was one heck of a feat for me.
I’m not sharing this to puff myself up or show off but to illustrate that if you have a dream and feel a calling to do something, even if it’s something very different than what you’ve ever done before, you can do it. You will find a way and, I believe, somehow be provided with the abilities and resources to achieve your dream.
How does this pertain to birth? Too many of the women I work with tell me they desire a natural, unmedicated birth but that their family and/or friends don’t think it’s possible. They, not the mother herself, doubt her ability to birth without intervention. And so, she often does birth with intervention and frequently not in the setting nor with the care provider of her choice.
This absolutely breaks my heart.
When I announced to my family and friends I was going to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife I did not hear resounding cheers of support and encouragement. Some thought it was ‘just some funny new thing Kara was going to try’. Midwife?! Why don’t you become a doctor? Others were happy for me to become a nurse-midwife because, hey, nurses are so well respected and you can always get a job as a nurse! I chose to become a midwife for much more spiritual and soul-rewarding reasons than a paycheck. (Read that story here.)
And still sadly, others, either to my face or behind my back spouted that it didn’t make any sense for me to be a doula or a midwife. I didn’t have any kids. I’d never been pregnant. How could I possibly be of any help to women in childbirth?
This particular response was perplexing to me since many of the care providers chosen by my family members when they were pregnant were men who would and will never carry or give birth to a baby. Forget me being a woman, having a period, or aspiring to become a mother someday (proof that I had some inclination for mothering, which essentially is what a doula does; we mother the mother). All besides the point, I suppose.
Long story short is that I had to walk away from this pointedly negative, nay-saying energy in order to make any headway on my new dream. I also had to sidestep the voices that were focused on my new career path as solely being a means to making money. Money, while a very practical and welcomed benefit, was and is not the point.
Back to how this relates to birth: The thing is, our loved ones can’t and won’t always understand the choices we make as women and mothers. Swaths of misinformation, sensationalizing, and fear mongering add an additional burden to those of us wanting to go against the grain of how our family members and friends have birthed. So many women, our mothers, sisters, and aunties included, were not truly supported in the births of their babies. They weren’t given choices, they weren’t empowered to trust their bodies, they weren’t listened to.
Their experience does not predict your experience.
Trust your gut and go for what you know is right for you for the birth of your baby. It’s so important to use and find your voice now. A MAJOR added but not often spoken of bonus is that finding your voice in your pregnancy and birth will give you the courage to be the kind of mother you want to be. We all know how hard it can be to fend off well-intentioned–but not appropriate for us–pregnancy and parenting advice. Don’t let the fear of others make you abandon your naturally spot-on instinct. If it isn’t a full body YES! then it’s a no.
You’ve got this, Mama.
BIG Love, and XOXO,
P.S. If your dream happens to be a non-medicated birth, fortunately, science is on your side. Every day more and more evidence is piling up in favor of not intervening in the births of healthy babies to low-risk women. ChildbirthConnection.org, TheBusinessofBeingBorn.com, ChoicesinChildbirth.org, and OurBodiesOurselves.org are your informative friends. The Birth by the Numbers website and their 2014 video update by Boston University’s own Gene Declercq, Ph.D, LCCE is a great resource for the distilled hard data. Henci Goer’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to A Better Birth is an excellent book on evidence-based options. And Dr. Aviva Romm’s blog is another favorite of mine.