Being a mama + a student midwife
Oh hey! I'm finally posting the blog I've been promising you all for ages! Ever since I launched the Worldwide Mama Crew in August last year, whenever I mention that I'm studying I get an influx of questions. Which does not surprise me at all, because this time 2 years ago I was the one asking all the questions!
Firstly, a little intro; hey, I'm Katie. I have two young boys, Jack (3.5) and Abel (2). I study a double Bachelor of Nursing and Midwifery FULL TIME and in my spare time (ha ha) I run the Worldwide Mama Crew and the community that has grown with it. As you can imagine, I am very busy.
Those of you who aren't mamas, or have never thought much about becoming a midwife after kids, might be scratching your heads wondering why anyone cares? Don't heaps of mums study? Yep they sure do, as I've found out since heading back to uni earlier this year - there are so many mums at uni. But the thing is, studying midwifery is a bit different to your usual uni course. So most of the questions I get are from mums who are considering studying midwifery and already know how hectic it can be, or just from mums in general wanting to know how I get shit done!
I study a double Bachelor of Nursing and Midwifery. This is a 4 year full time course. At the end of the course I will be qualified as a Registered Nurse and a Registered Midwife. The 4 years has intensive intervals of placement. First year requires 4 weeks of placement. By second year that jumps up to 13 weeks. I just calculated fourth year and I think its about 22 weeks of placement. eek! During the 4 years of study, aside from placement,exams, classes and assignments, to gain our qualifications, we are required to complete 10 continuity of care experiences (COCEs). A COCE is when a woman allows a student midwife to follow her through her pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey.
So the intensive placement plus the COCE requirements are what can make studying as a mum a bit trickier than studying other courses. Leaving the house in the middle of the night to attend the birth of one of my COCE ladies gives me a bit of anxiety but I stay positive that I will be able to find care for my boys when the time comes,
The question I get asked most is how many days am I at uni and how do I get study done! For me, in first year, each week was condensed into two days a week, meaning less childcare that I had to organise. On those days there were still a few hours here or there in between, so I used that time to study (or pump). If I was putting the boys in daycare, I didn't want any of that time to go to waste. This year, our entire semester was crammed into 4 weeks full time. That meant more days per week dealing with childcare, and less downtime during the day to study.But of course it meant once the 4 weeks were over I didn't have to worry about childcare until the next round of placement.
Besides studying on campus, I just really prioritise my study time. If I get given some readings or have something that needs to be submitted within a week I will do it that night. If I don't, we all know what happens if one of the kids gets sick, so I just really prioritize my time and get stuff done as soon as possible in case I'm out of action by the end of the week. I can honestly say I very rarely stayed up late to study or finish an assignment. This is purely because I have forced myself to be so organised!
In terms of how motherhood itself fit into returning to study; it was hard at first but just like any stage of motherhood we developed a routine and it worked. Jack was 2.5 when I started, and I knew daycare would be great for him. Abel was only 9/10 months old, and I had a lot of anxiety about that. I had never left Jack that young so I had a lot of mum guilt around leaving him. But I tried to put it all into perspective and knowing that some mums have to return to full time work when their babies are young, I knew if they could do it, I could do this. Abel was still breastfeeding anywhere from 6 to 183942 times in a day so I absolutely had to pump while I was at uni. My campus (as I'm sure most do now) has a parents room, with a fridge and couches and power points. I would head there between classes, pump, leave in the fridge then pop into the cooler bag I had waiting in the car. Id drop the milk off at daycare when I went to pick them up. Routine. Routine. Routine.
I've taken the kids to class with me, when someone has been sick or on one occasion when I hadn't booked them into daycare properly (baby brain). All the staff and most of the students are understanding, being parents themselves.
So, that's how classes work.
My biggest challenge so far has actually been trying to work out my COCE appointments around the kids. I try to be really up front and honest with my ladies and tell them if for whatever reason I cant get care for the boys when they have an appointment then I may need to miss it. My first lady was so understanding and actually deliberately booked her appointments on the days she knew I was at uni, and therefore had the boys cared for, because it was easier for me to miss class than to find someone to have the boys for an hour or two.
I don't have access to that much care for my boys. My husband Matt works really long hour. My parents live interstate and most of our friends have really young kids, so its not as easy to call on them. Thank God for Matts parents who live right around the corner.
Daycare is bloody expensive, I've been lucky that I've found a centre that does casual bookings. That means I can book them in on the weeks I have classes and then don't need to during the breaks; there's usually big gaps of weeks with nothing then weeks where I will need care during placement etc.
In terms of placement, thats been tricky but has worked out so far. I use a mixture of childcare and family for placement. Last year, I flew my mum down from Queensland for two weeks because that was cheaper than two weeks of childcare. I won't lie, emotionally it fucking sucks. The boys miss me so much and I miss them so much. I've just finnished a four week placement in birth suite. I have been living my dream and been honoured to be part of so many life changing experiences for families and their new babies. But there have been many morning of tears. From me and the boys. And there has been so much guilt. Its hard but of course it is worth it, and when they are older and understand better what a midwife does they will forgive me.
I have successfully completed my first year of classes and exams with grades better than I ever expected and second year is looking pretty rosy too. I am certain things will get more stressful over the next few years, but for now I am so proud of myself for coming this far.
Go to an open day and ask all the questions. I had no idea how family friendly most study facilities are these days until I went. I've taken my kids to classes, pumped, breastfed, had time away from class because of sick kids. They want you to succeed and you wont be penalised because your children are your main priority. If you can't get to an open day, jump on the uni website and find out who the coordinators are and send them an email or arrange a meeting.
Prepare for daycare a few weeks before uni starts. Nothing worse than stressing out about the kids when you want to absorb all the info in your first few days at uni.
Absolutely prioritise your time, if you've got the chance to get some uni work done then do it, before something comes up, one of the kids gets a weird rash or infection and you're out of action for 2 weeks.
Find out what you need to do to get in as early as possible. You don't want to get to November to realise you should have already sat an exam as a mature aged student and can't get in the next year.
As always, any questions, send me an email or dm me. I'll be jumping on Instagram for a video chat with anyone who wants to ask me any questions next week.