I am so glad to be sharing Katie's story. Originally we thought she would be sharing her adventures in breastfeeding story, but it turned out to be more of "working mom" oriented and I'm so happy about that! I love sharing these stories, because I feel like they are good for others to hear, whether it inspires other moms to keep following their dreams, encourage them through the times of needing to work, or simply give practical advice. Katie is a friend and I was able to meet her, her sister and the adorable Hatch once. Hatch is so obviously loved and I can only imagine how proud he will be of his mom once he is older and understands all she has done. Thank you for sharing, Katie! <3
I've wanted to be a midwife since I was an undergraduate and read about midwives in an anthropology course. I spent almost ten years testing out different paths into midwifery but eventually I got up the nerve to apply to nurse-midwifery (CNM) school and got into one of the most competitive programs in the country. I found out I was pregnant with Hatch six months into a three year program. Before I started the program my doctor told me there was a “less than one percent chance” I’d ever get pregnant so it was a wonderful, super scary, shock (many pregnancy tests were involved)!
Getting through my first year of nursing school with an increasingly huge belly was not easy, but my classmates and the nurses on the floor were incredibly supportive. My son was born my last week of the registered nurse (RN) year of my program and I was required to attend class when he was three days old. No joke, we left the NICU, went to class, and my milk literally came in as I was sitting in class in my pajamas. My husband napped with Hatch in the student lounge! A few days later Hatch was breastfeeding as we walked in my graduation ceremony and one of my professors pinned my ceremonial RN pin onto my sling!
I was fortunate to have the next five months off, and during that time my younger sister moved in with us to become Hatch’s nanny when I returned to school for the midwifery part of my program. Because the schedule of a student nurse midwife is officially insane, there is no way I’d be able to do what I’m doing without my family’s help. Most weeks I have a full eight hour day of classes, another full day of seeing patients in clinic, and at least one twelve hour shift. I often take night shifts because it means I can spend more daytime hours with Hatch (even if they are super sleepy daytime hours). Plus lots of study and commute time and things are a little crazy around here!
One of the first things that went out the window with having a kid is the pressure to be the best. I no longer think I need to be the perfect student and it’s actually refreshing! Time I would have previously spent doing every last reading (including the optionals) is now divided between school and playing with blocks or hanging out at the park. And that’s okay.
I try to make time to do special mom-Hatch things. I take him to a parent-tot class at our local Waldorf school and every Sunday, rain or shine, our family goes to farmers market. I also feel good about having provided pumped milk when I was away until he was 20 months old! Pumping provided me with a way to connect with him, and while people thought I was crazy for doing it so long it was really hard for me to give that up! Continuing to co-sleep and breastfeed while I’m home have also helped to squeeze as much out of the moments we have together.
When I first went back to school I was certain I made a huge mistake in not taking a year off to be with Hatch, but in hindsight I’m really happy that I will be finishing my program right around his second birthday. It was much easier to study with a sleepy, non-verbal infant than it is with a toddler who fights bedtime like a champ and deserves attention when I’m home! When Hatch was little we spent many evenings with him wrapped up in a carrier while I bounced around reading journal articles on my phone or flipped through flashcards while I was breastfeeding. Now I’m not above bribing him with a few minutes of music videos(Shovels & Rope are his favorite) so that I can take a quiz or finish a paper.
While it often seems impossible to feel like a great mom while attending to so many commitments in addition to my child, I really believe that in the future he will appreciate that I have a job that is fulfilling to me and makes me a happier person and a better mom! Plus, not many two year olds have a whole class of midwife aunties!