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Feminism or equality

I guess this is my bit on feminism. I’ve been reading a fair bit of late.. And I have some comments to make..

I think I myself do now identify as a feminist. But I am probably happy to identify as such given a particular definition. To me, a woman and should be as equally valued as any role a man might take in the workforce. To me, feminism is a removal of sexism from work, from life, from relationships, from family models etc. Sexism exists as discriminatory behaviours toward the opposite sex. (Well, *technically* speaking! This is the definition) however I think sexism can be displayed from women toward other women as well. To me sexism is really discriminating against someone because of their sex and therefore engendering them with particular afflictions purely based on their genitals. For example, telling a woman that she will want to have children some day even if she doesn’t want them now simply because she possesses ovaries. What other authority do people have but the possession of ovaries to tell others this I don’t know. In fact I’m fairly certain if I announced some time that I don’t want children that a) this would be met with some surprise given my career choice! and b) I’d have some smart-arse telling me I will change my mind one day.. When I’m not so young and immature.

Blah! To you I say! Blah! The truth is I’m somewhat undecided on children. But that’s a decision for me and me alone to make! Maybe I’ll involve the father of the baby too! Hehehehe! 😉 these days, lord knows I wouldn’t be the first who didn’t!!

Anyhow, I guess this all came about for me cos I made a somewhat off-handed comment a few months ago on twitter. Something along the lines of: “why are all the feminists so angry?” It was poorly researched and was perpetuating a stereotype that is frankly unhelpful. I was quickly corrected and had some of the other feminists come out of the woodwork and admit to me that they too didn’t see that hostility generally improves ANY cause.. Let alone this one. So I quickly resigned to do some research on the topic. I needed to be informed. I’ve done some brilliant reading since then! I’ve stolen a good friends copy of “the bitch in the house” which is a compilation of short essays and had a whole lot of fantastic points, all without too much hostility. All things I could relate to! I don’t appreciate hostility and for me it just makes me shut down.

I don’t appreciate sexism either! I don’t appreciate being told that I am a woman and therefore I will be more nurturing to my child than it’s father. I don’t like being told that I can’t do something because I am a woman. Of course aside from peeing standing up… And let’s face it! If I want to clean up the mess then I can damn well pee standing up if I want to!

I am a midwife and as a student I found the whole gender thing a difficult thought to ponder. I think that in my experience, children are assigned a gender based on their genitals, so not only does their parent dream up for them to be happy and healthy and successful, their parents often have a whole bunch of other dreams for them too! They’re dressed in pink or blue based on their genitals, and then their parents make comments in reference to their sexual preferences. They’re assuming that while this baby is still an infant that they’ll grow up to be a straight heterosexual, marry a man/woman (whichever applies!) have their picket fence and their 2.4 kids and live happily ever after! Until they get their first divorce and meet their second husband/wife of course!

And you might think I think too much on this stuff. But people who are friends and who are pregnant at the same time will make comments of their children to mates with each other if they have the same genitals and they’re going to marry each other if they’re opposite sex.

And don’t get me wrong! I think it’s a natural part of human thinking. We have dreams for our offspring and these dreams extend to their happiness and their success in life! But what of the children who feel an attraction to the opposite sex once they *do* think of things along those lines?

I mean I for one have always been brought up to be a compliant, thoughtful, respectful young lady. I need to look a certain way and behave a certain way if anyone will want to spend their life with me. What about if I don’t want to spend my life with them? Does it come into it? I am conditioned both by society and my upbringing that if I am not in a relationship that there must be something wrong with me. And I am made to feel that if I am not in a relationship that there is something wrong with me. Fact is there’s not! I am perfectly nice, respectful and reasonably pretty. I am also opinionated, clumsy and argumentative. I like a good debate and I like a good children’s movie. I love a drink and I love riding my bike. I am a lovable curmudgeon and Liz lemon describes herself in 30 rock. I am sometimes messy and I am sometimes clean and tidy. I always care and I am always emphatic, but I don’t always communicate that well. I am a little deaf, a little blind and not particularly the sharpest tool in the shed. But what I do and what I say it comes from a place of love.

I don’t always expect that my boyfriend/partner male counterpart will do the gardening just because he has a penis. But I’m not very good at it, so if he doesn’t want to do it I’m happy to pay someone to do it or better still, buy a place without too much of a garden. I don’t expect I always need to cook, but I do enjoy my food and enjoy cooking so chances are I will probably spend some time doing it.

I don’t feel the need to put down my male housemates cos they don’t do the dishes the way I do.. Telling them they’ve had a “boy look” when they can’t find something in the pantry only further segregates the sexes. The boys in my house are actually cleaner than me, and often tidier than me. We are considerate of each other and they learn different skills from me as I learn from them..

I think what I’m getting at here is that I am keen for equality to be a thing. Equality means equality. So support of gay marriage, is part of that. Who am I to tell people that they can’t commit their life to someone? I don’t know that I will ever get married either.. I have a lot more thinking to do on it, and what it would mean to me. But I am keen to remove segregation between sexes. I am keen to work together with people and make our world better for all.

I understand none of these thoughts are particularly new. They’re just mine and I had to put them down somewhere.

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Breaking

You get to the point in your day when you cry. You left home at 6am and packed a bag for the next 2 days and you feel like you’ve lost control only 10 hours into the day..

I feel like I can’t handle the pressure today. I’ve managed to lock myself out of the house and managed to get a speeding fine. I’ve managed to forget my lunch and feel as though I’ve lost complete control. I’ve made mistake after mistake.

I received some negative feedback from a facilitator that said I look as though I don’t want to be on placement and I don’t want to learn. The truth is I’m just trying to stay awake! I feel as though I’m at the end of my tether and I feel like I need to admit I can’t do it. I feel as though life is just too hard to juggle work, study, Uni contact hours, placement, my second job, my third job, my sister wants me to do some stuff for her and my house is a mess. I have my game face on 20 hours of the day, always putting my best foot forward and always giving my best impression. Trouble is I think my best foot is beginning to show a little wear and tear..

I could take a week off and delay my finish, but it’d all still be there for me when I come back so it wouldn’t make a difference.. The work piles up, the readings pile up and the assignments are 1 week closer to due date..

I just want to relax and take a breath but I can’t. So I put my game face on and put in the only effort I have left. A mediocre one. Until I break.

Even though I cant be happy with that, the only thing worse than mediocre is losing momentum…

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st lover’s day…

I do believe no-one will buy me flowers today. And I’d probably frown on them if they did. Why buy flowers just because there is a day marketed on the calendar and the prices are jacked up? It’s the same problem I have with RUOKday. Why ask people if they’re ok only one day a year? To me it seems less than genuine and it’s why I don’t like it. I don’t like things that seem forced or are instigated. If you actually care about someone then you’ll find ways to show them you love them on a regular basis. You won’t wait for one day of the year to do it. You will find times to ask people if they’re ok more than once a year. Because let’s face it, when people ask me if I’m ok on RUOKday I feel like punching them in the face. If people care enough to notice that I’m down or struggling any other time of the year, I am likely to feel they care. 

Consistency is the key people. If you care enough about a person, then you will be there asking how they are, and showing your love any time. If you need a hallmark day on the calendar to remind you to express your feelings, then I challenge you that they are not actually there. I challenge you that your feelings are not strong enough to give voice to. 

I don’t think this idea is new to anyone, I just felt the need to give voice to my opinion. I believe that @ericalick put it best yesterday on facebook when she said: “If you feel like you need to remind your significant other how much you love them on Valentine’s Day, you’re doing every other day wrong.” 

I’d agree. Live to the fullest everyday. Feel what you feel everyday. Don’t wait for a day on the calendar to express a feeling. If it’s real you don’t need February 14 to express it. 

 

All of the above said, I’m not one to steal anyone else’s fun times.. so if you want to celebrate love.. go for it… you don’t need my permission…. 😛

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my new year post..

I know. I’m as surprised to see myself here as you are.. This neglected little space has become a barren wasteland of old comments and thoughts been and done. I don’t know how it happened. But it did. 

Anyhow, here I am with my spin on the new year. I guess to put it into words as much as anything.. I like the idea of a new year. A clean slate, a fresh start. I think most people do. We like to begin again. We like the idea that the sins of the years, days and weeks gone by can be forgotten and we like the idea of shiny, clean and new. 

I like to use the new year to think about what I want to achieve. It’s an arbitrary date in time, but it’s a good idea none the less to re-evaluate. It’s a good point in time to take stock of where I am, where I’m going and what’s next. I think for me, it’s a bit like a signpost in the road. 

I am a goal-oriented person, and I think as much as making sure I am on track, I want to also set new goals for the year. So here goes:

I want to exceed any achievements I ever have before. I want to go further, I want to be better, and have more fun. I want to party hard, and I want to work hard. I want to learn more things and see more places. 

It’s like I always say… I don’t have any true regrets in my life. Just some big fucking lessons. 😛 I don’t have room to start carrying regrets around now. 

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Well it’s a little neglected this little blog of mine.. I think the last time I posted I was on a deadline for an assignment.. And coincidence of all coincidences, I’m working to a deadline again.. essay only 2/3 done is due Monday 😉 (coincidence! I swear!)

I was at the hospital the other day working my shift. I have been on placement since July, working 2 days a week in different sections of maternity. It’s been an overall good experience, and re-affirmed my love of all things midwifery. I truly do love what I’m doing.

This has been a difficult semester, not only am I playing catch-up for all the stuff I missed out on last semester, but I really had the confidence knocked out of me early on. It was during a conversation with someone close to me that this first manifested itself. Basically, this person suggesting that student midwives have no place in the hospital system or at a birth.

It really shook my confidence. For a long time I have been pinching myself. I got into uni, and I’m not quite sure how it happened. I pass every test, every assignment, every competency and every placement and I am not sure how that is allowed to happen. And at the end of the day, I’m not an imposter. I’m here, I am a 3rd year nursing/midwifery student. It’s no mistake, I have earnt my place in the class of 2013. My teachers, lecturers, tutors, educators and mentors have validated that as such. I keep expecting to one day wake up and find it has all been a dream. But it’s not, it’s real. And it’s amazing. So who is this person in my life, and why let them convince me that I don’t belong in my life?

It still amazes me everyday that I walk on the ward that I am allowed to be involved in providing care for these women and their bubs in utero. I recognise the pleasure, privelege and responsibility that is. And I am thankful for it everyday.

I thought I would share an experience I had the other day. I was rostered for the delivery suite. I love going to work on delivery suite. Cos overwhelmingly, it means it’s someone’s birthday. It’s the day that someone welcomes a new member to their family. It was particularly quiet that day, no women in labour. So we stand and wait. We need to wait, just in case someone comes in to deliver.

We had a caesarean section booked, and the midwife’s role in that room is minimal, if not super-numery at times. The caesarean section had been booked well ahead of time because of a particular complication with the pregnancy. When I did some research on the topic, I found that most of the time, this complication is diagnosed on pathology investigations. I found that the majority of the time, the complication results in a bad outcome for mum and bub, and usually it is discovered after it’s too late.

All went well with the procedure, though shortly after being born we noticed that bub was working a little bit too hard to breathe, and decided to take the little critter up to nursery for extra help to breathe. The operating theatre is a scary place for me as a student, and as someone who has been the patient on that table, it’s even scarier so for the patient.

In the moments after they took bub upstairs to the nursery, with dad and 4 or so other people in tow, that I remembered the very basics of my training. I remembered that there was a woman attached to that open abdomen, who had a head, a heart and feelings. I remembered she is a person, a wife, a mother, a scared patient. I sat down, next to the mother and held her hand. I explained to her that her baby was in the best place, and we would find out very soon what was going on. I reassured her and I stayed with her. I spoke to her and updated her on what was happening at each step. I stayed with her when the obstetrician beckoned me over to look at and learn about the complication that had brought us there.

I remember at the beginning of my training we discussed holistic care. That it’s more than just a broken knee in bed 16, there’s a person attached to that knee. And that person needs just as much care as the open wound. It’s more than just a woman who’s been induced with gestational diabetes, or pregnancy induced hypertension. It’s more than a woman who is in labour with her 4th child and had a major haemmorhage after the birth of number 2. It is a person. And midwifery means “with woman”. I hope I never forget that.

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For those of you who know, I worked hard last year and I lost 30kg. I have always been the chumpy kid, and as I grew up nothing changed. In fact I got chumpier. I do not have a natural athletic ability, I never have and I never will. But I got to a point where I stopped comparing myself against other people and started competing against myself. I got to a point where for the first time in my life I was able to run, and became quite fit. I was really enjoying my new level of fitness, mentally, physically, emotionally. It felt there was little that would get in my way… How wrong I was.

I fell off a dirt bike in April this year, I hyper-extended my knee and landed on it the wrong way round, basically snapping or damaging 3 of the 4 main ligaments in my knee. I ended up having surgery, and a number of months of rehabilitation. I am still going through physiotherapy and rehabilitation, and I will be to some degree for at least the next year or so if not longer…

Last night I went back to the gym for the first time since April. I went to my first spin class, and oh how I have missed the endorphins. I don’t think the class went particularly well, and I felt extremely unfit and unable, that is until I realised I am back to comparing myself against others. As far as I could tell, I was the only person in that room last night returning from major surgery and at my first session back, and I know I am the only person who is me.

Back in the day when I used to be obese, my excuses for not exercising amounted to laziness. Essentially, I was able to exercise, I just didn’t want to. When I did start going to the gym on a regular basis, I found that there was very little I couldn’t do. I would improve each session and I would slash through my previous best efforts. Each gym session I was happy to push the limits, and I was happy to go further than before.

Last night when I went I felt victim to my body. For the first time in a long time, I was no longer in charge of the body; I was instead being limited by it. I felt scared to push the limits, and scared of doing more damage. I still worked hard last night on my spin bike, but I felt I didn’t work as hard as I might have previously. In some ways, I feel that my body is failing. In the mind, I am ready, willing and able to get on the bike and ride my little ass off, quite literally! But my body just doesn’t respond the way I want it to.

Over the time I have been immobilised, disabled, incapacitated, call it what you will! I have struggled against this leg with a mind of its own. I have also managed to put on 2-3kg. I want to move that and even more. It’s action time. Even now, there are few excuses I will allow myself to make when it comes to doing the things I want to do.

In a way, it’s an important lesson for me to learn. I am going to be a nurse/midwife at the end of next year. I will have patients who are not in charge of their bodies. Patients who have the willpower and motivation but a body that won’t co-operate.

I guess in a way the hardest part of all of this is that it’s not quite mind over matter. In a sense, mind over matter is a good attitude to have, but I need to be careful to listen to the demands of my leg and not push beyond its capabilities. Because pushing too far would be the ultimate casualty here. But I will continue in my determination. Can you guys help me…? Losing the weight again is not going to be easy…. I’ll need encouragement…

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I have an exam in 2 hours, so of course I am sitting here in this uni bar at 11am in the morning blogging… I can’t think of a better use of my time.. Can you? Some might argue that whatever I cram in the next 2 hours is not likely to be of any good to me anyway… Ah well… I’m not too worried.. It’s one of my nursing subjects.. They seem very common sense in comparison to my midwifery subjects…

I had a conversation with a patient a few weeks ago that has been playing on my mind.. I guess I wasn’t really sure how to take it.. I’ll set the scene…

This semester part of my midwifery degree has me working at the local hospital’s maternity services 2 days a week. We work accross post-natal, birth unit, family birth centre, ante-natal clinics and detal monitoring. I love it. It’s hands-on experience and it’s what I need to learn the practical tasks of the job…

The conversation I had was a fleeting moment with a father of a newborn baby… His wife ran into some complications during the birth of their bub, and she was transferred out of family birth centre into the post-natal ward so that she could stay a bit longer and get some extra medical assistance. The father marvelled to me: “Wow! I can’t believe the level of care she’s receiving! This is in a public hospital! I’d expect this in the private sector, but not public!”

Back in June, I was lucky enough to have an article published in Sunny Days magazine, which I haven’t shared with you guys here.. But I will.. It basically went to say how much I love my course, and love what I’m doing, but that the most important aspects of my job and who I am, cannot be learnt at uni. As a nurse or a midwife, the most important attribute you can have is a genuine care, love and respect for people. The job is too bloody hard if you don’t care. Being someone like me, I care about each and every one of the patients in my care. For me, care is not just saying that a person is under my allocation for the day, it’s doing everything I can to make their stay somewhat less painful. I accept that I can’t change things, I accept that I can’t make the pain go away. And I admit that there are situations where this will be difficult to stomach.

But as far as things go, it’s not just working a shift to me. It’s not just cleaning bed pans, administering medication, checking for bleeding, monitoring vital signs, showering patients, changing beds, changing nappies, cleaning up bodily fluids, and monitoring heart rhythms. These menial tasks are all a part of the bigger picture. I wouldn’t do those things if I didn’t also care. I sympathise with my patients, I empathise with my patients, and I care about who they are as a person. To me the person is in the bed, it’s not just another number in the bed. It’s a person, who has a family, they have fears, they have joys. They are more than that broken leg, they are more than that infected body part, they are more than that respiratory infection, they are real. And the majority of the time, who are in that hospital bed is not who they are in real life. That person in that hospital bed is at their worst, and they deserve some respect. They deserve to be treated as a person.

I guess I am surprised at that man’s sentiment. I can’t see why you should receive any less CARE in a public hospital to a private one. I myself was a patient in a private hospital this year. As far as I can tell the only benefit I had from going in as a private patient was that I was able to book my operation within 10 days of the first consult with my surgeon, which meant having the operation a month or 2 earlier than I would have otherwise. For me that meant being able to continue with uni this semester instead of having to defer a year. That’s it. I had a horrible nurse overnight in the hospital, and I couldn’t wait to leave the next morning… Oh and the other privelege I had from that whole experience was being able to pay for the whole operation… (some may say was my own fault being uninsured! I’ll accept that! 😉

But in my experience, you can’t buy care. You can’t buy empathy. These are human emotions. And the vast majority of the time, the people in my profession have these in great quantities. At the end of the day, we are human too. So if you catch us at a bad moment having had a bad day… I’m sorry…………

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