April, for me is an upheaval month. If there is some sort of life changing event, illness, announcement or shift in my life, it undoubtedly will happen in April. Twelve years ago, April saw a pandora’s box of chronic illness brought to my doorstep. April of 2008 saw a positive pregnancy test for my firstborn son and entered me into my first hard lesson into what it would take to take back my health, my autonomy and my power as a woman. His birth was my stepping stone out of the box of routines, rituals, the how things are done and into the realm of midwifery. April of 2011 saw my newborn daughter and I at our Midwife appointment for our 6 week postpartum visit. I had birthed her out of hospital, gently into water, surrounded by my Midwives and their encouragement, trust and belief in my ability to birth. Her birth was a stark contrast to the violence I endured with my firstborn, and had a profound impact on myself as a woman, wife and mother. I sat in their office and tearfully proclaimed that I was going to be a Midwife, while expressing my frustration that I hadn’t figured it out sooner – which of course I couldn’t have. My Midwives smiled knowingly (as birth often brings life shift in more ways than one) and I received the most beautiful and timely advice that day – to become a doula in the meantime.
In April of 2015, I attended a professional training for Birth Story Listening and inadvertently received a deep healing for my own first birth. In healing myself, I started planting seeds of healing for every birth I attended thereafter, walking with women through their own births and also for the vicarious trauma experienced through my role as a doula. On the heels of that perspective shift, I gave myself permission to move ahead with Midwifery, something that I had only weeks before declared as an impossibility within the next few years. Through pure force of will and complete utter exhaustion, I spent the next 4 months upgrading and raised my GPA up to a competitive level (95.5%) in order to put in my application.
My Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) date, lo and behold was set for April 2, 2016 . Incidentally April 2nd also happened to be the day I found out I was pregnant with my first son, seven years prior. I love imagery and synchronicity with dates and numbers, so I played that date into my preparation, along with the number 7 as being a sign of my “new gestation” as a student Midwife. The idea that I was actually going to attend the MMI’s felt incredibly daunting and I had many periods of complete overwhelm and experienced visits from what Brene Brown would refer to as “the gremlin”. The gremlin had this lovely habit of waiting until I felt confident in my knowledge, experience and in the upcoming MMI and then pounce.
You are going to fail.
Everyone is going to realize that you are a complete fraud.
What business do you have thinking that you could ever be a Midwife?
The gremlin is one nasty bastard. I went in and out of suffering from classic “imposter syndrome” for weeks, waiting for the MMI. That feeling of not being “enough”, no matter how much I knew and could validate to the contrary. Everything that was me, was up for grabs. I was a terrible, selfish mum, a rotten and distant wife, a neglectful homeschooler, doula, absent business partner and friend. The gremlin is hurtful and cruel, delighting in attempts to convince you that you aren’t enough and that making yourself small and insignificant is a only way to feel safe. What the gremlin doesn’t tell you is that you don’t need safety – in fact, you need the absence of safety. To be brave and dare greatly is to feel the fear, and do it anyways.
Thankfully, I had a tribe of amazing women both in and out of the program that kept me going, spending hours upon hours texting, talking, walking, listening and having my back when I needed to go dark and twisty. I found my biggest supporter in my husband, who took every upheaval with grace and the utmost understanding. He talked me off the 2am “ledge” more times than I could count, giving me the necessary time and space to sit in self reflection and painful growth, even when it meant I was much less present at times for him and the kids. I listened to TEDx talks, read Lissa Rankin’s Anatomy Of A Calling, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and made a point of walking through my day to day with my heart open and in purposeful defiance of the gremlin and his patriarchal allies. I filled my Facebook and Pinterest feeds with positive quotes and writings.
Oh but my darling, what if you fly?
You are enough.
Don’t let the muggles get you down.
The week before MMI’s, I focused on self care so I could go into my interview daring greatly, with a full cup and with as much vulnerability as I could muster. My three teacup humans spent the night at Grandma’s and I visited a dear friend for a Float session before a nice supper and an early bedtime with my hubby. I got up early, blasted Lindsay Stirling’s “Take Flight” and drove to the university with a fire in my heart. I cried most of the way there.
For those of you who haven’t sat an MMI, I’ll give a brief overview as I’m personally an advocate for demystifying big, scary, falling-into-the-abyss type things. The MMI is an intimidating yet profoundly exciting interview process in which the top 40 applicants for the program are divided into groups of ten (organized into four time slots) and are given a series of 10 interview stations to move through. Each applicant is expected to answer a mix of multifaceted social justice, community based questions or teamwork oriented tasks – all either directly or indirectly related to the Midwifery profession. I’ve found that over the years, everything can be related back to birth or midwifery if you look at it hard or long enough, or in just the right way.
Your job as the interviewee is to approach each question with an open, non-judgmental mind and describe as many perspectives, considerations and discussion points about the situation as possible, while tying your answer in to your own personal experiences and understandings. If possible, it’s important to bring Midwifery as a profession into your answer, and to take into account the current maternity care climate. You have 2 minutes to read each question, 8 minutes to discuss the question with your interview person, who might be a midwife, program prof or someone in the community. Then you switch stations and do it again.
Sounds terrifying in theory right? In practice, you actually don’t have time to be afraid. Nervous yes, but there really doesn’t exist a spare moment for the gremlin to come out and mess with you – not during the MMI anyways. I actually found the whole process to be really fun and it felt very familiar to how I’ve approached the comment sections of birthing articles, or situations that I had been a part of during doula work, so that took a lot of the edge off for me personally. Afterwards, I had lunch with a friend and allowed myself a few hours mindless wandering before going home to just sit in the relief of finally being done. The gremlin came out to play in the following days, as I dissected the contents of every one of my answers in my own head. By day two though, I was busy enough with life again to shut him up. Wine with friends helped as well, though one good morning of red wine hangover was enough for me to remember my liver doesn’t care much for that form of coping.
So how did it all go?
I’m happy to report that as of Wednesday, April 6, 2016 I was officially accepted into the Bachelor Of Midwifery program. I’ve entered into the fray. I’m going to be a Midwife.