Friday, April 29, 2011

Apprenticing, Parenting and Surviving. Somehow.

So, as some of you know, and some of you may not, I am currently a student midwife obtaining my skills to get licensed with the state of Arizona, to be a home birth midwife. This is something I have wanted pretty much obsessively since I was about 6. Yes, 6. I don't think I've ever told the story of how I became obsessed with birth and pregnancy, so I will now. My mom was a nurse, and when I was little I was in love with her nursing school books. The ones with pictures mostly, because, well I was 6 and couldn't understand what they were saying. Pictures of human anatomy fascinated me. All the muscle groups, and how the organs and blood vessels and arteries all worked together. It was just amazing. One day, I stumbled upon a book entirely about the female reproductive system. Mainly it focused on the endocrine system and pregnancy and childbirth. There were these huge glossy, full color pictures of developing fetuses and pregnant women at different stages. And then there were very detailed (Read: graphic) pictures of birth. I. Was. In. Love. I don't know why, I can't explain it, but it was just that feeling that you get when you find something you adore. Probably similar to the feeling people get when they meet their future husband or wife. I don't know exactly what that feels like, but I think this was close. I took the book to school for show and tell, because I thought everyone must find this as amazing as I did. Well, they didn't. I got the book taken away, and my teacher called my mom. When she scolded me for stealing her book, and asked me why I did what I had done, I said sheepishly that I wanted to to do that. "Have a baby?" she asked. "No, help women have babies. Deliver their babies." She smiled and said "So you want to be a doctor?" and I said "NO! I hate doctors" emphatically. She thought for a minute and said "Oh so you want to be a midwife?" YES! Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. It felt so right.
Flash forward 17 years, and I am a single mom, working as a doula and hoping and praying that one day, I can become a midwife. I researched the process. I read everything I could find on how to become a midwife. Everything I found said it starts with an apprenticeship. That means, finding another qualified midwife, and following her to prenatals, births, postpartum visits, newborn exams, everything. Basically being her right hand and her shadow, until you knew how to do what she does, then you do prenatals, births, postpartums and newborn exams under her supervision, for as long as it takes until you are skilled and ready to sit for the 5 state exams needed to become licensed. This process takes years, I knew that. You don't get paid as an apprentice, I knew that. Being an apprentice is hard work, I knew that. But I was ready. I wanted this more than anything, and if it was going to take 3-5 years to finish an apprenticeship, I didn't want to wait another 3-5 years just to start. So, I started looking for a midwife who needed a student to help her out on births and in her office.
After about 2 months of looking, I found an amazing midwife. She is sweet, she is supportive and funny, and everything I was looking for in a midwife. I was in love. On February 24th, 2011, I started my apprenticeship with all the excitement of a new bride about to get married.
Over the last two months, I have been working with my own clients who hired me as their doula, and raising my kids, and keeping my house clean, and feeding and loving and raising my little family, and apprenticing to the best of my ability, all on my own. It's been hard. There have been times I have been so tired and overwhelmed I have wondered how I will keep this up for three years. Possibly longer. I need to observe so many births, I need to catch so many babies, I need to observe and perform so many prenatal visits, I need to examine so many newborns, PLUS know the state rules and regulations by heart, PLUS know the inner workings of a normal, healthy woman's body during conception, pregnancy and postpartum. I need to recognize and know how to respond to emergencies, etc., etc., etc. And, I still need to make money. I gotta bring in income to feed my family and pay our bills. Oh. My. God. Can you say OVERWHELMING?! So far, I've done a pretty good job, and things have been ok. I've brought in enough money to feed the kids and pay our rent and keep gas in the car and the lights on. Not much else, but hell I've kept us alive!
Well, just when you think you've got it together, life throws you a tester. A curve ball. A right hook to the chin and a left fist to the gut. Just, ya know, for kicks. Just to see if you keep standing. On May 9th, I will lose my government assistance for daycare for the kids. This means, I will not be able to afford to keep The Jedi in preschool, and Tiny in afterschool care. Daycare is fucking expensive. Just for The Jedi, JUST FOR HIM, it costs $140.00 a week. Once Tiny is out of school for the summer, she will be an extra $95.00 a week. That's $235.00 A WEEK! That's $940.00 a month. Holy shit. I just do NOT have that kind of money! So what do I do with the kids while I am either in my preceptor's office getting the numbers I need for my licensing, or meeting with my own clients, or attending births during the day? Where do I take the kids? I sure as hell can't take them with me! And even if I quit all of this, even if I closed my business and ended my apprenticeship, putting all of this on hold for later when both kids are in school all day, how do I work any other job? I can't just go out and get a job that will pay enough to make it possible to swing a nearly $1000.00 a month daycare bill. My other bills are 1200 a month by themselves.
I am at a loss here, and totally scared. These governmental budget cuts could kill me. How will I support us, if I don't have childcare to go to work? And I don't exactly know any super rich people who can just give me $940.00 to pay for daycare. And I do NOT have a super rich husband either who can support me while I apprentice. I have been praying hard the last few days for an answer. For some kind of indication of what I am supposed to do here. I just don't know what my options are. I don't know what to do.
I am confident that we will find a way around this because somehow, I always do find a way. I wish I had family that could help out. I wish I had some awesome stay at home mom friend who could take my kids a couple days a week. But I don't. So I am reaching into my magic hat and hoping to pull out a Mary Poppins who will work for a hot meal. I am praying for some help.
Wish us luck.

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