Pre-induction and vampires…

It’s 6am and I can hear birds tweeting, but it sounds like they are next to my bed. Bit odd. And they’re getting louder. I lay there with my eyes closed, wondering why I recognise the sound… Yep it’s time to get up and the alarm on my phone is in jeopardy of waking the entire street so when my brain finally connects I reach over and hover my finger over the snooze button. That thing is so dangerous, stealing our lives in 9 minute chunks. It was at that point that I was awake enough to remember that today is pre-induction day for Bedford based student midwives at the University of Bedfordshire and trust me, I literally jumped out of bed.

I’d packed lunch boxes for me and the boy and got his school clothes ready the night before and I didn’t need to leave until seven thirty so I had quite a chilled out morning shower to wash away the cobwebs and then sat down for coffee and breakfast. I was sipping my coffee and had a nagging feeling that I’d forgotten to do something; while Gabriel’s clothes were set up ready to go, I hadn’t even looked to see what I’d wear. I ended up going with my normal child-ult hippy style of long TARDIS blue skirt and Slytherin tshirt, in this weather, comfort is key (basically this is my wardrobe style, whatever the weather). No one is ever going to mistake me for sensible.

Seven thirty arrived and I messaged Kirsty to let her know I was leaving and said goodbye to the boys. This is the point that I started stressing about James being able to get Gabriel up ready and to school on time. After making sure they were awake it was time to pick Kirsty up and hit the road. From here to Butterfield takes about 45-50 minutes in the mornings, there’s always traffic at Clophill roundabout so we’d allowed 90 minutes so we’d have time to spare for a cuppa when we arrived. Come September we won’t have the Butterfield campus any more (but possibly some lectures at Bedford, yay!), so I’ll have to do a couple of test drives to see how long it takes to get to the main Luton campus, I expect it’ll be a bit longer. It was nice having a car buddy, when you’ve got someone to talk to you don’t have as much time to panic about meeting new people!

When we got there Justine had already arrived and came over to meet us. People were starting to gather around the front door, and the three of us sat like social outcasts on the bench. Remember, comfort is key 😉 and we all went in just before 9am. At which point we did being sociable you’ll be glad to hear! I recognised a few people that I’d met on interview day and a few whose faces I knew from chatting in the facebook group. It’s always a lot easier when there are familiar people. A lot of people couldn’t make it, but from those that attended, it looks like our cohort has a really good mix of people each with their own gifts to bring to the table, I’m really looking forward to getting to know people. We did a did a quick ‘get to know you’ exercise where we had ten minutes to find a person in the room that could tick something from a list- more then one set of earrings, owned fancy flip-flops, that kind of thing. As well as a good way to start learning people’s names, it was a good indication of who would jump straight into tasks and who preferred to take a back seat and a more relaxed attitude, seeing how people deal with a task is very interesting I think. One thing I really liked about our group was the amount of people that are genuine helpers. A shout of ‘anyone been to Dubai’ was met with ‘go see such and such’, or ‘I think such and such has’, everyone worked together to get the list finished. That made my heart happy.

Crap, apparently I’m feeling chatty today, sorry dear readers! I’ll condense.

The rest of the day was filled with really useful talks from midwives, students, the student union folk (who I managed to ask about archery club) and study skills support. Meanwhile we were off in little groups to get our DBS forms and ID checked and submitted and seeing the vampires. The DBS was pretty painless, but I got told off for writing England instead of United Kingdom, apparently they get a bit antsy about that. We added UK after England and called it good. Occupational Health wasn’t such plain sailing for me, I have the worst veins for taking blood, it would be less painful to just cut a finger off I reckon. After a failed attempt in my arm things went better from my hand with a butterfly needle so it all turned out ok in the end and giving my health forms in was quick.

We were shown and talked through a sample timetable for the induction weeks in September so we have a good idea of what we’re doing. We’re in most days during September with meetings, lectures, organising registration, uniform fitting and tours of placement settings etc, there’s so much to do before we go out on our first placements in October. After the first 4-5 weeks we’ll be in uni 2 days a week and in placement for 3. Being here for pre-induction made it feel a little bit more real, I’m actually going to be a student midwife! Can. Not. Wait.

So next I have my college graduation event on Thursday and I’m waiting for my diploma transcript so that my offer can be changed from conditional to unconditional. I think that’s when it’s going to be solid in my head that I’m actually going to university, and I’ll be able to stop pinching myself.

p.s. I’m crowdfunding to help with living costs while I’m at university, if you can spare a few quid, I’d be ever so grateful. Thank you!

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Arlene

June update

I’m sat on the sofa waiting to go and collect the groceries (I’ve been lazy and used the click and collect service) so I thought I would give you a quick update if you haven’t been following along on Facebook. There’s a huge crow somewhere outside making his feelings known very loudly and my dog is asleep on the chair in front of me, Gabriel is at school and my oldest James is being a typical 18 year old and isn’t out of bed yet. So I have a little time to write.

College is all finished now, I handed in my portfolio of work to be externally verified and signed off last Friday, and to be honest it felt like letting go of a child, I really didn’t want to hand it over! The EVs are in on the 5th July so I should get my transcript sometime after that. I need to find out if UCAS will send my grades to uni or if I need to do that myself, must remember to do that. I think I may do a little happy dance when my conditional offer changes to unconditional on Track, it still doesn’t seem real at the moment even though I’ve filled in Occupational Health and DBS forms ready for my pre-induction day on 10th July.

I must admit I am very nervous about meeting everyone and being in such a big group again, our college class was so small. But then by all accounts applications for midwifery are down on previous years due to the bursary being removed, so I wonder if universities have managed to fill all of their spots. I read in the news the other day that applications to work in the UK from European midwives have dropped by over 90% since the brexit rubbish, and I can’t blame them. Why would anyone uproot and come here if there was no guarantee of security? It’s so sad, how much talent are we missing out on sharing with? We need people who practice differently to us so that we learn new things from each other and don’t stagnate in our own practice. Oh, don’t even get me started…

 

So close I can taste it

I’m sitting here at half five on a Saturday evening having just finished off my last piece of work for college. It’s a poster presentation that I have to give on my research project, so all I need to do is stand with my poster and answer questions from tutors and my peers.

And that’s it. College Access to HE course done.

Betraying my Essex roots I have to say I’m totes emosh, this year has been a whirlwind and I am so damn proud of myself. A little over a year ago I was retiring from childminding and psyching myself up to apply for Access and panicking that I wouldn’t make the grade academically or during the interview process.  Now my second reference has been sent in to my firm choice from my awesome social science lecturer and I have my start date.

There is the little matter of maths GCSE to do (moral of the story, look after your exam certificates kids!) but I’m confident I’ll get what I need, it’s just getting that all important bit of paper isn’t it.

My college bag is turning into my uni bag and I’m going to have a drink to celebrate. Cheers!

Gaia and daily affirmations

I have no significant other to buy me extravagant presents, so when it comes to birthday or Christmas, I buy myself a gift (at least I know I’ll always get something I like!) For my birthday this year I saved up and treated myself to a sculpture by Andy Croughan of Created Myths. His work is amazing, you should definitely check it out when you have a minute.

Just look at her would you? I’m so pleased with her. My very own Gaia to watch over my journey.

Now it’s getting closer to starting my degree I’m starting to get anxious about it; will I be good enough? Will I cope? If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety you’ll know the feeling, you know damn well that it’s going to be fine but the questions keep coming and niggling at the back of the mind. So whenever I have these worrying thoughts I banish them with an affirmation. I have no idea if it’ll work, but it’s a good way to tell my brain to shut up and just get on with it. Here’s mine:

I am worthwhile, I can do this, I will make a difference.

Since last I wrote I’ve handed in my research project (a 9 credit bad boy) so I just need to do the poster presentation for that, psychology essay, health promotion essay and a couple more biology tests and I’m done. Where has this year gone?

 

Ari? Why are you crocheting a boob?

When two of your passions collide, you make boobs. Naturally. Of course you do.

But seriously, why make them? I first heard about knitted knockers for women who had undergone mastectomies, the soft and pliable knitted boobs were perfect for bra filling while women waited for reconstructive surgery, or for those that decided surgical implants weren’t for them. Regular prosthetics are expensive, heavy and sometimes require special bras with pockets to put them in, not at all ideal, whereas knit ones are soft next to the skin that may be tender from surgery and can easily be made to fit in a short timescale. There are knitted knockers groups around the world, and you if you have yarn and needles you can find patterns on Ravelry and google for your local group.

IMG_3538But that’s not why I made one. In the past, demonstrating breast feeding techniques for new mothers has had to be a little more ‘hands on’ than women might like, or on the other end of the spectrum demonstrated on a balloon, which lets face it is not overly realistic. Unless you have balloon boobs of course. With knitted or crocheted breasts, techniques can be demonstrated more realistically and in a less invasive way, helping new parents to visualise latching techniques, how to deal with mastitis and other other issues that may arise. It’s also useful for partners to understand attachment better so that they can spot potential issues. They’re used by midwives, health visitors and breastfeeding volunteers, and although I’m a way off beginning my training, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

The pattern I used is from Lactation Consultants Great Britain, and the free pdf can be found HERE on Ravelry.

 

Is it September yet?

If I close my eyes and wish harder, will it be sooner? Actually, it’s probably a good idea it’s a while away, I need to earn some money over summer. Once I start and I get the OK from my tutors, I’m hoping to make at least bi-weekly posts to chart my progress, and I’d love to have you along for the ride.

We had our maths mock exams today and I think I did ok. About a third of the desks were empty in the hall, and of those that arrived about half didn’t have the right stuff they needed. I felt very old indeed in a room full of teenagers, that’s what I get for sucking at maths at school I guess. There was a girl from the nursing pathway sat at the desk behind me and she’s really tall and instead of putting her feet on the floor like a normal civil human being she did a full stretch (I think she was doing yoga) and kept kicking my chair. Seriously. Oh! I forgot to mention we got free pizza before the exam too, our college looks after us!

So yeah, we’re on the home stretch! I’m currently at 24 distinctions with another 6 more biology credits, 3 psychology, 3 health studies, and the 9 credit research project to go to make my total 45. I was really glad to get my microbiology results, I really thought I wouldn’t make the grade on that one, it was complicated compared to the other science modules we’ve been doing with a lab book, fact sheet, full lab report and other bits and bobs to do.

We’re in review week at college this week, which means we only have to attend if we need to catch up on anything and GCSE lessons are running as normal too. Which of course I’m bunking off from. Hey, I’m having my boiler serviced (not a euphemism) so I have a good excuse. Then it’s Easter break through which I will remain in pjs unless absolutely necessary. Our research projects need to be in on the 21st so I’ll spend the majority of my time fiddling with it and shaking my fist at myself for asking too many damn questions and giving myself so much work. We have to prepare a poster presentation after Easter too, I have no idea what that entails yet apart from the obvious, so I have bought giant paper in preparation. Life is better with giant paper.

What else has been going on? I got my practice shoes in the sale. Not Un Loops as recommended but they are super comfy (but way ugly) so I just need to get theatre shoes now. There are still a ton of books on my list, but I can get those as and when, and my friend John bought me my Myles textbook for my birthday which I’m so grateful for. Thank you! I have an interview tomorrow morning at college for the new prospectus. They are interviewing a bunch of us to put some in the literature for future students, so that’ll be fun… And that’s about it for this update I think. I’m sure I’ll think of something I’ve missed that I wanted to tell you, but for now, t’ra!

Access to life

I was never really one for education when I was a kid, school was so boring. Skipping out and smoking were more important to me at the time but I left with GCSEs (lord knows how) so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. Fast forward and I’m now 40 and half way through an Access to HE diploma and chose 2 universities for midwifery, both of which I interviewed at and received offers. So it turns out that I’m not as much of an academic dunce as I had been led to believe. There may have been something in it when my teachers told me that it was a shame I didn’t use the brains I was born with.

Every day I attend college, get assignments graded, meet with my classmates, my confidence just grows and grows. I adore science, always have, and being able to use it in a practical ‘hands on’ way makes me so happy I could dance. I won’t though, because I’m shit at dancing. The mixture of science and craft is one of things that has always drawn me to midwifery, not craft in the papier mache kind of way, you know what I mean.

We literally have biology exams coming out of our ears at the moment, and we’re stuck into the 9 credit research project so important things are afoot. Then there are the study skills assignments when we’re assessed on our notetaking ability, or how to make a powerpoint where we just roll our eyes and crack on with it. Getting the mix right is so difficult on Access courses because people are there from all walks of life, with varying abilities so I get that those things are important if you haven’t done them before but wow they’re boring!

All in all though, if you’re considering an Access to HE course, dive right in! It’s hard work and can be very intense but you can do it. If a 15 year old me bunking off school to go smoke in the park can do it, so can you.

I did it!

This time last year, I was handing notice to the parents of the children I cared for and getting ready to retire from childminding. I’d done it for 12 years and I wanted my house back, I was starting to crave more adult company. I worked with some amazing children over the years, and was privileged to care for some children with very complex needs, but it felt like a natural time to finish.

Fast forward and I’m now half way through an access to midwifery course at Bedford College and also studying to retake my GCSE maths because I can’t track down my certificate (long story short, keep hold of your certificates kids!) I applied to three universities, but then withdrew from Herfordshire because it was just too far away which left me with Bedfordshire and Northampton.

I was over the moon to get interviews for both of them, and was really happy that my Northampton interview went well, I got an offer so at that point I knew that whatever happened, come September, I’d be a student midwife. The Bedfordshire one I wasn’t so happy with, I had a terrible headache so I know I didn’t give my best and really thought I’d blown it. And then on Valentines day I had an offer from them! Best Track update ever! Bedfordshire is my first choice because I prefer the integrated system they use rather than blocks of uni and practice, I really liked the university and I can practice locally. So like the worlds best gameshow, I locked in my answers; UoB my firm choice and UoN my insurance choice.

I’m going to be a student midwife!

Thank you to everyone that has supported me to get this far, I couldn’t have done it without you.