I was sure I'd failed. Finally out of the exam room, away from all of the other test takers, in the safety of my car, I cried. Defeated, I texted my best friend from nursing school. Don't worry, hun! she said. I totally felt the exact same way. I know how you feel but I know you passed!
I wasn't so sure.
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 Matt. 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 a trade-like arts and film school that requires students only take one science class. I took "Weather." I had just passed, on my first try, the final exam that I'd been working towards for 2.5 years of nursing school, a program full to the gills of math and science. For me, this was one heck of a feat.
Why am I sharing this? It's not to puff myself up or to show off, but to illustrate what I learned here about following my instincts and trusting the process--even when I had no idea how the heck the whole thing was actually going to happen. What I learned is this tried and true wisdom that I've found is essential for pregnancy and birth (and all of life, as it turns out):
Go with your gut, and you can't go wrong.
So what does this have to do with pregnancy and birth? 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, (first step nursing school, second step graduate school), 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 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 said it didn’t make any sense for me to be a midwife. I didn’t have any kids (at the time). I’d never given birth nor even been pregnant. How could I possibly be of any help to women in childbirth?
How does all of this pertain to your pregnancy and birth? I hear too many women say they desire a natural, unmedicated birth, or a homebirth, or some even who want to plan a cesarean, but they don't follow their intuition because their family and/or friends don't think it is safe or okay or "right". They, not the mother herself, doubt her ability to birth without intervention or "past her due date" or in the OR. (Note: I am not condoning elective c-section just because you don't want the mess or pain of labor. There are legitimate, non-medical reasons for giving birth via cesarean. One that comes to mind is a history of sexual trauma. The World Health Organization recommends that no more than 10-15% of the population deliver via cesarean.)
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.
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 wanting to go against the grain of how family members and friends have birthed. So many women, mothers, sisters, and aunties included, were not truly supported in the births of their babies and the births of themselves as mothers. 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 others' fears make you abandon your instinct.
You've got this, Mama! Whatever the right "this" is for you. Remember, stay true to you, go with your gut!