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'Has it really been three years since I started my midwifery degree?'

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As she sits down to write her blog following a night shift, midwifery editor Anna Merrick, realises that the proximity of graduation is causing her and her peers’ grasp on time to become somewhat shaky

It is quite possible that the mind numbing-ness of night shifts have left my brain unable to come up with an idea to write about. Then again, my writers’ block may also have something to do with the amount of typing I have done in the past few months, haphazardly trying to jump through the hoops of this mad degree.

My grey matter has simply regenerated into subcutaneous fat, in the general hips area of my body (if you didn’t already know). My brain has begun to melt under the enormity of almost being a midwife, entirely unrelated, of course, to a general diet of Pepsi Max and wine gums.

I was reassured that I’m not alone in this brain-in-transit issue the other day, when a colleague tried to open a locked door with her stethoscope. It reminded me of the time I wrote ‘observations stable for the past 12 years’ in a woman’s notes.

Confusing hours for years is an easy mistake to make in the NHS.

“It is just over two years since I delivered my first baby”

I still have a vague grasp on time, however.

For example, it is just over two years since I delivered my first baby - a date ingrained in my mind for probably all the wrong reasons (namely: mayhem).

I think I can be forgiven for being unsure whether this was two seconds or two decades ago when I look back on it. The ‘seconds ago’ memory is a more popular thought, since I generally like to view and present myself as a first-year student the majority of the time, pretending I still have an expanse of training ahead of me before I’ll be required to be accountable for actual women and actual babies.

The two decades ago viewpoint, in comparison, is more relevant when I’m trying to write an essay, when two decades have passed since I started writing it and therefore I now deserve a break. It is also more relevant in comparison to friends doing ‘normal’ degrees – I have genuinely been at university for two decades longer than you.

Before I get lost in writing the sequel to a Brief History of Time, I will refocus on the fact that I am coming to the end of my training as a midwife. The midwifery ‘to do’ list has been ticked off: 40 deliveries, dissertation, mental breakdown, OSCEs, lifelong single status, job offer, passion for biscuits. I am left only with essay results, my practice document and a summer of placement.

“None of us are quite able to believe that we have almost, very nearly, done it”

Then I will be free to live as I please and pursue my career with Caitlin Moran/the cast of Dreamgirls (what did you think I meant by job offer?).

In all seriousness, the jokey-ness and general hysteria we’re all feeling is caused by none of us being quite able to believe that we have almost, very nearly, done it.

I used to picture the moment of handing in the last essay, working the last shift, wearing our uniform for the last time. Unfortunately, it seems there will probably be less confetti, emotional music and all-you-can-eat buffets on the day than I have imagined, but the sense of accomplishment will withstand.

In what has been a particularly testing few months for both the public and the NHS, I take my hat off to each and every qualified midwife, nurse or doctor out there, noiselessly working away in the abyss or going about his or her daily lives - holding up the scaffolding of the country with quietness.

Hats off to you all. Continue to use your stethoscopes to open doors with pride.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Anna,
    Congratulations! And if you get too hysterical, remember to breathe.
    Breathe deeply, in out!

    How can you open a door using a stethoscope?
    I really want to know!


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