In the first of her new student editor columns, midwifery trainee Holly Morse looks back on a summer of change.
The frantic checking of UCAS for news of whether I’d made the cut from 500 applicants to 20 places seems a lifetime ago.
The reality of the steep and bumpy path ahead loomed suddenly out of the euphoria of that moment and a year of non-stop learning, testing and growing began.
I remember being told at the beginning of term, sat in a room as cohort 2016 for the first time, to keep each other close as we were the only ones truly going to understand and able to support one another through the rollercoaster we were stepping on to.
The challenges faced personally and as a group have been enormous.
“The relief among us all as the summer break came round was palpable.”
There have been births for some, less for others, exam elation and disappointment and utter exhaustion. Bodily fluids have become normal conversation.
The indescribable feeling of supporting a woman to birth her baby, of building relationships and projecting strength in the most harrowing and human of experiences. Questioning everything. The relief among us all as the summer break came round was palpable.
As Year One ended months of juggling came crashing down around me, the student midwife, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend hats scattered around in a forlorn pile.
Many of us studying midwifery come into the training and profession with valuable life experience, caring responsibilities and all the other demands that life in your thirties and forties tends to bring.
“This timetable leaves little time for reflecting on home life, sacrifices and juggling - somehow you just get through it.”
My degree course is an integrated programme – meaning we are required to spend some of each week in lectures and the rest on placement, adding up to full time hours, plus assignments and reading. This timetable leaves little time for reflecting on home life, sacrifices and juggling - somehow you just get through it.
I was able over the summer to regroup with my four young children again, to speak in full sentences to my husband and finally pick up the phone to friends put on nine month standby.
I found myself reflecting on the journey so far, on midwifery as a ‘calling’, a profession and as a journey.
That journey began for me 12 years ago, winding through giving birth, motherhood, an MA in Child Welfare and diplomas in Antenatal education and birth support.
I had experience in all things pregnancy and birth, in politics and education and a desire to work hard, no matter the challenges, to learn everything I could from the experience and knowledge around me and emerge with a completed jigsaw.
“I didn’t expect the dawning realisation that this is no jigsaw, there is no finite amount of learning or end to the sacrifices made.”
I didn’t expect the dawning realisation that this is no jigsaw, there is no finite amount of learning or end to the sacrifices made.
As midwives and midwifery were torn apart by the media and politicians this summer, my fierce reaction, my search for evidence and debate reminded me of my goal: to support women to make the decisions right for them and their families.
Jigsaws have hard edges and missing pieces to find - instead I can see the beginnings of a tapestry emerge, layers of experiences and opportunities and the strength to keep stitching, no matter what the next leg of the journey has in store.
I look forward to sharing some of Year Two here as Student Midwife Editor for the next year!