Labor Daze

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By Taiwo “Tia” Ajao, Accel. ’14

Birth Companions is an exciting training opportunity that equips student nurses to support, educate, and advocate for pregnant women in our community. It is wonderful. It has also revealed for me an interesting way to assess the most challenging academic experience that I have ever faced.

You see, I am discovering that Nursing School is in fact a lot like labor. Does that sound like a stretch? Bear with me as we explore the two Stages of Labor, nursing school version.

Stage One

Latent Phase (Just Breathe):

My first semester was fun and engaging. I embraced this new world of studies and discovered my best ways of learning. I felt the “labor pains,” but with them came excitement, anticipation, and a hunger to learn. Tough patches? Sure. But I engaged the support of others, met the challenge head on, and overcame.

Active Phase (Surprise!):

It’s kind of like when a seasoned mom tries to explain the experience of labor, but we don’t really “get it” until we finally get there ourselves. Everything seemed normal as I registered for fun electives, took on new opportunities, and still ran home by early afternoon most days to chillax with my family. Then, whoa! Suddenly an old I Love Lucy episode (with Lucy and Ethel frantically trying to box chocolates from a speeding conveyor belt), shared strategically with the Fall 2014 Cohort during our first semester, began to make perfect sense. It was getting real. Too real?

Transition Phase (Strong, Painful, and Frequent):

The labor pains came one on top of the other. Breathe? Are you kidding? Contractions (exams and critical assignments) were due every week and I could not keep up! My old way of managing no longer worked. I can’t do this anymore! I found myself complaining when really there are people who dream night and day of partaking in this experience. I faced a real struggle, serious self-doubt, awaiting a new semester that many said would be even worse.

But my birth doulas–my husband; my mentors, advisers, and counselors; my colleagues–all reminded me:

You’ve already come this far;
You are further than you were before.
The baby is closer now than ever before.
You are doing something that is very, very hard;
Take a deep breath: you can do it.

Stage 2

(Push!)

Now just thinking about seeing my baby—passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) makes me want to do whatever it takes! No more fear and regret, no worries that the past will repeat itself. I must, and will, do everything possible to succeed. I am pushing. Sure it hurts, but it’s worth it. The dream of graduating is ours to receive. So close: a triumphant journey from the first thought of possibly wanting that baby to finally—finally—having him!

Push! Dreams do come true! Feel it. Imagine it. Make it happen.

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