Monthly Chai September 2014: Reply to Feminist Midwife!

Hey there, Stephanie…just finished enjoying your latest Monthly Chai...and then I started writing a little reply in the reply box, but by the time I was done I realized that actually, it was just a blog post. So, here it is.

First, can I just say a huge thank you for your Music Mondays? Seriously. They’ve been awesome and I love being introduced to new music. My dear friends Krystel and Lex would playfully confirm that I am behind the times when it comes to the latest and greatest in music…one of their jobs is to introduce me to new artists on a regular basis. So, thank you for sharing–I’ve been soaking in Sylvan Esso.

I hear you on the “fleeting” moments of the past month…it hardly seems possible that my last day of class was already two weeks ago. WHAT?!

I’m sitting here in at By Degrees Cafe (if you ever Baltimore, you must eat here!), grabbing lunch while at my last day of the GLMA conference. I’ve learned so much over the past few days…and as a cis-gendered woman and straight ally, I feel grateful that I’ve been able to share in this place of LGBTQ health professionals and allies to collectively learn and share best practices in LGBTQ health. Already a million blog posts are swirling about the topics of conversation: HPV screening among trans-FTM people, fertility care for folks who have or who are partnered with someone who has HIV, the desperate need for more LGBTQ-inclusive education in health professional education and curricula, artificial reproductive technologies and fertility preservation for LGBTQ people…it’s been hard sometimes to contain my excitement at meeting other students and clinicians who are as passionate about this work as I am…and it’s definitely been an exercise in balance, too…the moments feel like they’re coming fast and furious, sometimes overwhelming as I think about the magnitude of the work that still lies ahead, even in my so-called liberal, progressive state of Oregon (sigh, that’s a post for another day…).

While I haven’t been on Facebook recently (ostensibly, I’m studying for the NCLEX), I am relying on Instagram a little more to help remember some of those favorite moments. I still don’t know how I feel about it. One the one hand, Instagram feels less invasive in my life, I check it less often, etc. I love the visual aspect of it. But I miss the interaction of Facebook. There were so many moments during this conference when I wanted to share things on my FB page about the conference and get that instant feedback and connection…yet, not being on Facebook has offered an opportunity to let it all settle a bit more. I like to think that my reflections will be more nuanced, perhaps…more reflective than those instant posts? Maybe. I’m still pondering this experiment and exploring how I want to use and consume new media in my life.

Stephanie, you ask: What are you looking forward to next week, next month, and before the end of the year?

Well, next week I’m looking forward to starting my first day of orientation for my new part-time job as a nurse! I’ll be working Saturdays and some fill-in days at an abortion clinic and cannot adequately express in words how thrilled I am to continue this journey. My previous experience as a patient support advocate at Planned Parenthood was what led me to nursing and midwifery in the first place, so it feels incredibly gratifying to be able to start moving in such a concrete way towards what I anticipate will be life-long work in abortion care.

Next month–well, next month nurse-midwifery school starts, so, you know, I’m pretty stoked about that. I’m definitely enjoying my break, but, when I’m honest with myself (and you, my dear blog readers), I’m a school junkie. So, yup, I’ve already bought my textbooks and, yup, I’m kinda really excited about them.

And before the end of the year…well, honestly, that one I haven’t thought about as much. This month has been so long-awaited that I haven’t really thought much about the rest of the year…so I’m not sure yet what lies on the horizon for the last three months of 2014. I think I’m looking forward to settling into whatever the new routine of my life holds.

How is it that we not only appreciate the special spaces of respite and relief, but create the most important pieces of them in our busy life? How do we stay connected with people and moments from that time, giving credence to the people and moments we left behind and to whom we return? How different are we as people when we are way for a week’s time, and how does that shift the space to which we return? And how do these questions exist without the time to address them?

Ooooh, man. These. These are the questions of life, aren’t they? I remember a conversation with my therapist last summer, as nursing school was just starting to explode into a chaotic frenzy in my life. She asked how I was integrating the qualities that I cherished in my “away” self-care time into my daily life. I had just come from a solo-retreat to the coast and was feeling calm still, but could tell that I was on that fragile cusp between “control” and “chaos”. I admitted I didn’t know…and I’m not sure I have any better answers now. I will say I’m getting more versed in viewing the space between control and chaos as a spectrum rather than a black and white all or nothing. Mostly, I think my capacity for flexibility continues to evolve and expand…as well as my willingness to let go of self-judgment around how I’m doing in relation to others. I often get really hard on myself when I can tell that things in my life aren’t flowing so smoothly, when I’m neglecting the emails, and wear the same outfit to school two days in a row, and order take out for the third time in a week and let’s not even talk about the last time my running shoes saw the outside of their shoe cubby (let’s just say, months). If I’ve learned anything, it’s that gentleness with the ebb and flow of the space between respite and 200mph is key to surviving the whiplash.

So excited to hear about your niece! What a gift to be able to support your family! My favorite meals to share are an African-inspired Peanut Stew that my friend Megan learned while doing birth work in Senegal. I also make a mean green chile enchilada, starting with this recipe for inspiration. Lots of yummy soups, of course, to fill the freezer. For peri-care: witch hazel-infused oils to soak into pads, then put into the freezer–voila, instant ice pack for healing. I love to make little snack packs to leave around the house in all the places a mama might nurse–nuts, dried fruit and jerky (if they’re meat-eaters), with water all around, of course.

Books! Oh, man, can’t wait to hear what you think of Americanah! I devoured that one on my flight down to Mexico this spring, ended up staying up all night to finish. I also have been wanting to watch The Giver…I think it remains one of my all-time favorite books from my youth…although, I have to say, I’m kind of afraid my expectations are too high. And The Fosters, huh? I’m curious to check it out. As an adult adoptee, I’ve been intrigued by the recent rise of adoption in national media and consciousness. I can’t always say I’m a fan of the kind of rhetoric and practice I see around adoption…but I also appreciate that it’s not so hidden and at least not quite as stigmatized as it used to be. I still think people who place for adoption face a lot of hurdles in our culture (“How could she possibly give up her baby?!” continues to be something I hear on a not infrequent basis)…and I see less conversation about the institutional barriers that prevent many people from actually being able to parent the children they want to parent and resort to adoption instead. That said–holy cow, a show about a lesbian couple who has adopted and is fostering? On national TV? We’ve come a long way.

Is there something in your life that you could write about for days on end, expressing gratitude for its presence in your life? What communities are you building in your life, and are you purposefully making time for them?

Oh, yes…dear, dear friends, of course. I feel so deeply loved right now. Yesterday was my 5th wedding anniversary with my husband…we’ve known each other nearly ten years now. I don’t know how I could get through this school journey without his support, or the support of my friends near and far. We’re in constant conversation about how to keep the threads of our web of community strong. I find myself calling more often these days, sometimes for the quick five minute chats instead of the once every three/six/nine-month epic heart-to-hearts. I think a lot these days about the places I want to live and who I want to be in my community…dreaming about my future as a practicing midwife means also considering where I want to practice and build community.

What new adventures have you started, and do they feel solid or shaky? If you had tea leaves, what futures would you be hoping to predict? What song would be playing if we were having chai together today?

New adventures, YES! A new job, of course…as well as co-leadership of our campus chapter of Nursing Students for Choice. We have so many exciting ideas for programming for the year, and I’m already eagerly reaching out to other student leaders to connect and network. I can’t wait. I hope my tea leaves would show a picture of thriving, busy, fulfilling work and play…and right now I can’t get Sara Bareilles’ Brave out of my head. I know I’m a bit late on the bandwagon (see note about Music Monday above)…but, yeah. I’ve been blasting this one in my car these days. It’s the pick-me-up of positivity I need in this final stretch before NCLEX and transitioning into my new role as an advanced practice nursing student.

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One thought on “Monthly Chai September 2014: Reply to Feminist Midwife!

  1. Before my son gets shots, we watch that video & sing “Brave” on the way to the doctor. Your reference made me smile. Thanks again for the help this week!

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