A mini-reflection series to celebrate the final five days of my undergraduate nursing program. Each day I’ll share both a high and low of the last 15 months…because, let’s be honest, an accelerated nursing program is not always easy. That said, it’s been a year of incredible growth and learning, and I’m ready to bring some closure to this stage of my journey and clear the space for the learning and growth that lies ahead in the next two years as a graduate student in nurse-midwifery.
The Low: Losing sight of my own self-care practices…
When I look back over the past 15 months, I can point out the periods in which I was feeling stress, overwhelm, frustration, or boredom by finding the periods in which I didn’t post much. These were the periods that felt harder than almost anything else I’ve done in my life, the parts that felt scary to write about, name, share with all of you. They were the periods in which I doubted whether or not I was meant to be a nurse, whether I was cut out for this work, whether I’d be enough…and whether I’d survive with enough compassion and motivation left to sustain the next stage of becoming a midwife.
Nobody likes to read about this part of nursing school. It’s easy to gloss over, to forget when the energy is flowing and everything is amazing. But let’s be honest. Nursing school is hard. It takes a lot of you, and you have to put in the time and effort to refill. I’m reminded here of Stephanie’s recent post on this theme over at Feminist Midwife. http://www.feministmidwife.com/2014/08/19/from-the-fountain/
The High: and then re-finding them again, each term.
In labor, by the time you’re in transition, you’re often not here, you’re in LaborLand. Your body has taken over and you’re just following along, surrendering to the power of the contractions. And then in pushing, it’s hard to NOT push…there’s just that overwhelming urge to bring forth the new life you’ve been carrying for nine months. That’s the image that most resonates for me when I think about the ebb and flow of each term. I’d start out each term with a lovely regular pattern of exercise, hanging out, time with my husband…then things would fall apart and go wild and chaotic…and then at the end of the term, despite all efforts otherwise, I would be drawn to retreat and take time to recenter and touch base with what drew me to nursing school in the first place. The first few terms I would get so frustrated that I could “figure it out” earlier, that I would “regress” into “bad habits” and stay up to late…but the thing about habits is that they’re habits for a reason. Once I understood that it’s ok for self-care to be cyclical, too, things got a lot easier. In fact, it almost has become a bit of a ritual I can look forward to…this circling back to exploring what works and what doesn’t and re-committing to practices that feed and nourish me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.