Monday, April 30, 2007
May 26th 2006
The weather has been taking me back home lately. I'm a Vancouver girl at heart, but I've been away for about four years and at the moment I'm living in Montreal. For the last couple of weeks it has been every bit as grey and rainy as my sweet west coast forest home. Naturally I am loving it, feeling a very pull-on-my-wool-socks and brew-up-some-jasmine-tea kinda groove, but the locals here aren't quite so into it. Of course I understand that for some this is pretty disasterous weather. The earth around here (well more on the south shore, not Montreal proper... where there is more concrete than earth per se) just isn't used to soaking up these amounts of water so there is flooding and all maner of serious unhappiness there. But for me, and those of us whose homes are not in danger of overflowing it's really not so bad. In a weird way it eases my homesick heart a little to get a bit of that rain-soaked energy out here.Weather aside, I have been feeling rather unsettled as of late. Uncertain. Confused. Bewitched, bothered and bewildered. It has been year since I left the midwifery program, which was the whole reason I left my rainy coccoon of a home in the first place. When I left, full of hope and some seriously romanticised ideas of what it would mean to be a midwife, I did not even consider the possibiliy of not finishing. Midwife ... the word conjured up images of ancient grandmothers, wise women, village elders, rebels, agents of change. I wanted all that. I don't think I realized what it would be like to actually do the work, at least not in a more modern setting. I know I didn't realize how much I would feel like a visitor from a distant galaxy when I was working in a hospital. I wasn't skittish about the basic clinical skills stuff; drawing blood, keeping up the charts, catheters, injections so on and so forth. I will admit to a certain squeamishness about the more serious interventions, namely IV meds and baby resuscitation ... and that's not so weird because those can be scary things and I am very inexperienced. No, the thing that really got me was how all-consuming and fast paced it all was. I thought - before I knew any better - that midwifery would be a wonderful line of work for a calm, mild-manered slowpoke like me. How wrong I was! Maybe one day that would be the case, but at least for the formative years you have to dedicate all your attention on the task of learning this one thing. I mean suddenly I was carrying a pager and a cell phone! And I hate cell phones! (pagers had never even entered my consciousness). I suddenly had a car... I suddenly only had three days per month where I wasn't working/on call. Don't get me wrong, I loved a lot of it. I loved catching those babies, really loved it when partners got involved and helped to catch their own babies. I loved clinic, for the most part, because the clinic rooms were like mini-living rooms where we drank tea and chatted about life, the universe and everything (but mostly pregnancy-related stuff) with our clients who were supremely interesting women. I loved home births. There is just something so ... subversive, so courageous and so so fundamentally sane about a woman and her partner bringing their baby into the world in their own bedroom while the new grandparents bake chocolate cake downstairs. The actual reason I left (took a year off - which is now becoming two years off and maybe becoming me doing something totaly different with my life) was money. My car broke for the twenty-seventh time in a row and I ran out of money (ha ha... that makes it sound like I actually had money in the first place, no I actually ran out of credit). It didn't help that I had to move no less than seven times in those three years for the program. But the relief I felt when I could finally turn off that pager, park my car and just go back to being a selfish, moody, twenty-eight year old brat was palpable. I suddenly couldn't imagine ever going back to being (or rather pretending to be) that other person... that organized, efficient, bright, cheerful, ever-eager-to-learn health care professional. Ug.Now I am faced with the decision: do I go back at all? Is there a place for me in that world? Can I deal with that schedule, that level of sleep deprivation, that kind of selflessness, that kind of think-on-your-feet intelligence? Am I even cut out for all that?I still don't know. If I want to go back next spring (for reasons of scheduling work placements I have to go back at the same time of year that I left, which is spring) I have until october(ish) to decide. I wish I could just let the decision sit in my mind for a while and do other things and wait and see with patience and a total trust in divine subconscious revelations. But I can't. I think about it all the time. I go back and forth. I am driving my partner a bit crazy (I think, though he never complains) since this time I would be sure to drag him along for the ride. Last time we were doing the long distance thing (he is a boy-creature from Montreal, which is why I am here now and not in sublime BC) and that was extremely unkind to our relationship. He would come for a visit and I would get called out.... I would have to drive for several hours out of my precious three days off per month to see him and then we would just argue about something silly... phone calls were not nearly enough to sooth my frayed nerves. No, if I go back I need at least one person in my corner to come home and cry to when things don't go smoothly. Lucky him! I just wish that somehow I could recapture that down-in-my-bones certainty that this was my path. I mean when I first thought up the idea of being a midwife, oh so many moons ago, it seemed to fit in a way that nothing else ever had. Strangers were telling me that they thought I would be a fantastic midwife and would I please catch their babies when the time came? Everything happened in a very flowy synchronous kind of "this is meant to be" kind of way. Then slowly, as the program started and I tried to find my way in it, that certainty slipped quietly out the back door. It left a note. It's sorry but I will have to go on without it, one way or another. It wishes me well. Now uncertainty is the feeling of the hour and it doesn't appear to have anywhere else to go. Me and uncertainty are stuck together like siamese twins. Oh dear. What is to become of me?