I have just completed BIRTH COMPANIONS, an exciting training opportunity that equips Student Nurses to support, educate and advocate for pregnant women in our community. I have to be honest, Birth Companions is the reason that I chose The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing! Today I embrace my new training with sheer excitement, an intense feeling of achievement, and dreams of becoming so much more as a Community Servant. I have learned so much more about compassion and empathy and I finally feel like I have a bag of tricks: real, concrete tools to impact women during the birth experience.
I think the most powerful concept that I learned from Birth Companions is The Stages of Labor, the associated Phases in the First Stage, and all that these bring. I see a correlation between all I have learned and this current semester which is by far the most challenging academic experience that I have ever faced. Ever. I have discovered an interesting association: I am discovering that Nursing School is A lot Like Labor. I’m sure you would like for me to explain. Allow me to exercise my creative license and please humor me as I make these comparisons. I will focus just on the first 2 Stages of Labor within this analogy.
Stage One: 3 Phases
The Early 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 it came excitement, anticipation and a hunger to learn. It was great because I had time to breath. I would face a brief patch of challenge but would easily overcome. I engaged in the support of others and took on the challenge head on.
The Active Phase: Get Ready for a Surprise Active Phase for me was in fact very active! I thought everything was just as usual as I registered for fun electives, took on new opportunities and ran home by early afternoon most days to chillax with my family. Then suddenly and unexpected, the struggle became intense and it has been like nothing I’ve experienced before! Suddenly this amazing reel from I Love Lucy, shared strategically with The Fall 2014 Cohort during our first semester, began to make sense [kind of like when a seasoned mom tries to explain what labor is like, but we don’t really get it until we finally get there].
I was forced to focus in on the issue at hand. I had to turn inward and let go of distractions. The present reality was too real…
Transition: Strong, Painful and Frequent I didn’t quite realize that I had entered into the Transition phase, but it was intense. The labor pains came back to back, then one on top of the other with no room to breath. Contractions (Exams and Critical Assignments) were due every week and I could not keep up! My old way of managing no longer worked. Then suddenly I was at a place where I felt I can’t do this anymore. Feelings like I wanted to quit. I found myself complaining when really there are people who longingly dream night and day of partaking in this experience. I faced a real struggle and truth be told, I think I’m still here in Transitions, awaiting a new semester that many say is even worse…
But my Birth Doulas: my Husband and Companion in the fight; my mentors, advisers and counselors; and my colleagues who are comrades in the struggle, all remind me:
You’ve already come this far;
You are further than you were before.
You have already come this far;
The baby is closer now than ever before.
You are doing something that is very, very hard;
Take a deep breathe: you can do it.
Then eyeball to eyeball I decide, that I will endure, that I will do whatever it takes to see my baby. I have had to develop new strategies; different and consistent ways to manage this present time. Within our course, we learned about Penny Simkins 3 Rs: Relaxation. Rhythm and Ritual, all coping and comfort concepts that are useful even for the Dedicated Student Nurse!
Stage 2: Push and Birth!
Now just thinking about seeing my baby makes me want to push! Putting aside all fear and regret. Dispelling the lies that the past will repeat itself; I must do everything possible to succeed by every means necessary. The dream of graduating successfully is ours to receive, and in this analogy, the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam is truly that final set of pushes that reveal a triumphant journey from the first thought of possibly wanting a baby to finally—FINALLY having him!
I noticed something strange about the recently graduated 17-Month Accelerated Fall 2013 JHUSON Cohort. They were rather easy to spot as they approached their finish line. I knew them immediate: their calm demeanor, that silent confidence, that knowing intensity that accompanied each little chat with a newbie like me. It was inspirational; I couldn’t quite understand; it felt like they knew some that I didn’t. They seemed to have a peace that only comes at the end. They have their babies today, and I really want mine.
This Accelerated Nursing Program is A lot Like Labor. Allow “Doulas” in your life to help you along the journey.
I can’t wait to see your baby…and mine too.