I was certain I'd failed. I couldn't wait to get out of the exam room, away from all of the other test takers. In the safety of my car, I cried. Finally I texted my best friend from nursing school. Don't worry, she said. I totally felt the exact same way. She was sure I passed. Her words made my drive home a little more hopeful but I was very. seriously. doubtful of a positive outcome. Eventually 48 hours passed and the unofficial results of my national nursing licensure exam were posted. Bracing myself for the worst, I logged onto the NCLEX website.
I freaking passed.
I shrieked. I wept. I jumped on 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, was not a feeling I will ever forget. My first bachelor’s in photojournalism and magazine writing is from an arts and film school that requires students to only take one science class. (I took “Weather.”) I just worked my way through a program full of math and science. For me, this was one heck of a feat.
Why am I sharing this? It's not because I want to puff myself up or show off, but to illustrate this tried and true wisdom that's essential for pregnancy and birth (and all of life, as it turns out):
If you follow your inner knowing about what is right for you, you will always be ok. That is to say, if you go with your gut, you can't go wrong.
Here's some back story:
When I shared with my family and friends I'd decided to go back to school to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife, it was not to resounding cheers of support and encouragement. Some thought it was just the next thing I was doing. 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! And 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 (at the time). I’d never been pregnant let alone birthed a baby. How could I possibly be of any help to women in childbirth?
How does all this pertain to your pregnancy and birth? I hear too many women say they desired a natural, unmedicated birth, or a homebirth, or wanted to plan a cesarean, but they didn't go follow that intuition because their family and/or friends didn't think it was safe or okay or "right". They, not the mother herself, doubted her ability to birth without intervention or past her "due date" or in the OR.
So, too often women birth with intervention, frequently not in the setting nor with the care provider of her choice, or go through unnecessary suffering (different from pain) to fulfill someone else's definition of the best choice.
This breaks my heart.
It's also just crap.
The thing is, our loved ones can’t and won’t always understand the choices we make as women and mothers--in our careers, relationships and especially in our pregnancy and birth journeys. 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. Did you hear me, sweet mama? 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 huge added bonus that is not often spoken of 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. Whatever the right "this" is for you. You've got this. Remember, go with your gut!