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How do I avoid becoming one of those midwives....

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

You know the ones.

The ones who used to homeschool but life got to crazy so they put their kids in public school.

The one whose house is always a mess.

The one whose car is so dirty it looks like a homeless man lives there.

The one who is 30 lbs overweight because her sleep schedule is so screwed up she never has enough energy to work out.

The one who buys 100 lbs. of peaches and plans to can them but they sit on her counter and go bad while she is at a marathon birth.

The one who goes 6 months in between haircuts.

The one whose friends don't want to pick up the phone because they are afraid you are going to ask them to baby sit your kids because you have another breast feeding emergency.

The one who avoids her husband like the plague because he is going to want sex and she is just plain too stressed.

The one who quit throwing birthday parties for her kids because she always was at a birth when they were supposed to happen and the kids got upset anyways.

The one who no only has birth friends as she is too busy to see anyone else.

The one who talks to her clients about a healthy whole food diet but some days survives on the free samples that Luna Bar sends.

The one who works all the time but still doesn't have any money.

The one who has a closet full of unfinished craft, sewing, and scrapbooking projects that will never be completed.

The one whose baby cried when he sees me put on scrubs.

The one who is in constant overwhelm at all times.

Over the past 3 years of my life this has become more like me everyday. I knew midwifery affected your life, I had already been a busy doula for 5 years previous, but I have yet to find any balance.


How do you all cope? What have you found to be the most challenging things about midwifery? Someone who has it all pulled together please share how you did it?

post #2 of 24

I feel your pain. I am a single mama midwife. My house is a mess, my car is a mess, I could lose 30 lbs and maybe more, I know what to do but I don't have the time, etc.


That being said, a few things I find really essential: hire help. You can't depend on your friends to cover for you all the time when you have a breast feeding or post partum emergency, or a mama in super early labor who needs reassurance, etc. In fact, your friends should be relied on for when you really really need them. In the meantime, I have a fleet of awesome young babysitters ( college students, responsible high school students, other single mamas, etc), who I can pay an affordable rate to and who are happy to come over at a moments notice.


Cook all your food on Sundays. Or any other day. But cook for the week on one day. Don't schedule anything else (obviously sometimes you will be at a birth, but then you need a backup date). It helps me to plan healthy/balanced meals in advance and if I have a bunch of them cooked and in the fridge/freezer than I am less likely to jump into a bag of fries or eat anything else I happen to stumble upon. I also keep healthy junk food alternatives in the house- because lets face it, you know after a birth when you still have to take care of the babes, you just need a sugar rush/pick me up and I figure it's a lot better to have healthy options on hand.


Schedule in your pampering: I have someone come to my house to cut my hair. I schedule it every few months and have friends over to sip wine and get their hair cut too. I also have the babysitter come over a few hours earlier than my scheduled prenatals once a week and I try to take in a yoga class or get my toe nails painted, or take a nap....


Bring your babe to prenatals. I don't do it all the time, but if I am spending too much time away from DD at births, I throw her on my back with a good sling and she comes along for pre and post partum care. Most mamas don't mind at all and it allows me to spend a little bit more time attached to my babe- which is good for both of us.


I wish I had more great advice for you. It's hard to be a midwife with small babies and I think we just get through it moment by moment.


post #3 of 24

I am new to practice, 30 pounds overweight but my hair looks nice, my house is pretty good and I always looking for opportunities to jump my hubby.   I have kept a keen eye on this issue over the years and this is what I have observed to work:


1-Keep your practice small or

2-Have several partners so you can take time off

3-Encourage your clients to hire a doula.  The doula will do a lot of the hard work and let you know when it's "really" time to come....or get an apprentice for this purpose.

4-Build a community of providers to refer to.  A LC, a naturopath, a counselor, etc.  You can't be everything to everyone.  It's much less exhausting to send them to someone else and save your energy for birth work only.


As for the kids and there education, you really have to choose.  I don't think anyone can give their kids what they need as far as homeschooling and work as a full time midwife.  The eldest ends up being the 2nd mom or babysitter.  I pay a dedicated homeschool mom to work with my 8 year old twice a week.  She just includes her in her flock and it works beautifully.  She does all the cool projects/timelines/experiments/math games that I always wanted to do but never have time for.


But the best advice I think I ever got was from an elder midwife.  She said, "Women will always be having babies but your children will not always be small."  In other words, wait a while and take care of your babies.  My youngest is almost 4 and I am finally now feeling able to run a practice without sacrificing my marriage, health, kids' education and my sanity.





post #4 of 24

Wow, this is a great thread.  I'm looking forward to reading more responses!

post #5 of 24

Reminds me of my mother in-law her life in a nut shell being a mw.(R.I.P) I found it funny. Now that Iam the mw I fall into some of those categories2whistle.gif I have to miss important events and yes my family works around me, bless them. On top of it I do births hours away. My family only knows me as the "midwife" and when my kids have to go do something and Iam not there they proudly say " My mom is out catching a baby." They know what an important job I have and they are proud of me. I wouldn't change all the laundry and dishes in the world for that. Though yes long nights are hard and zap all your energy when I come home they are so excited to hear about the birth and the baby. I guess that makes me the queen of my laundry pile since it has never washed itself, yet, still hoping.hang.gif

post #6 of 24

Not a midwife yet (doula, homeschooling mom), but even with being a doula and homeschooling four children, I doubt that I would attempt this:



The one who buys 100 lbs. of peaches and plans to can them but they sit on her counter and go bad while she is at a marathon birth 


Canning 100 pounds of peaches, probably not going to happen at our house. And I think that things like food you'd planned to do something with going bad when you're at a birth for 2-3 days is inevitable.


I think that a lot of the other things you listed are a matter of good scheduling when you are home, having a solid support system with great childcare and prioritizing what you need to get done.

post #7 of 24

I think this is also a place where one cannot allow themselves to be too caught up in their ego and image as a "midwife" to everyone nor allow themselves to be a martyr. Having limits and boundaries is great. Being able to say no to people so you don't allow yourself to take on more clients than you are really able to help and still have some sort of life outside of work is important. 


Now that I am not a student anymore, it is easier for me to develop other interests outside of midwifery to be sure that I am keeping myself a balanced person. I am making time in my life for ME. I have started exercising almost daily and have really completely changed my diet around. I make a point to take out one of my kids at least 1 time a week for a fancy coffee drink (our coffee dates, as we call them). To keep the house tidy, I just started doing Flylady, but make my entire family participate.... I didn't mess this place up by myself and I refuse to clean it all by myself as well. So, each of us does about 15 minutes of cleaning a day to keep it less chaotic around here. I have been trying very hard during our "screen-free" days here to also stay off the computer during the hours that the kids are home and I am not working so that we can have lots of good family time. I have amazing support here at my home. My husband rocks! He makes sure the kids don't miss out on things just because I have a birth that comes up. In return, I try to be awesome here at home whenever I am not at a birth :)


I think being aware that there can be a balance issue is really important. Constantly adjusting to try to find balance is good.

post #8 of 24

There's something wrong with that?

post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 

I guess for a lot of people there isn't anything wrong with that. :) I spoke to a friend about her experiences with her midwives(4) and she shared that the one whose house was a mess and who brought her young children to her prenatals seemed more human and my friend felt more at ease about her own short comings. I have been trying to find more balance. I think with me the difficult thing is that I am in an awkward place in my business. I am taking my own clients but I am also still finishing up two seperate apprenticeships. So that is a lot of time away and driving and sleep deprivation etc. I think when I am completely on my own and able to make my own schedule etc. it will be easier. This is such an awkward time. I really dislike being a teenage midwife. Thanks for all of the ideas.



post #10 of 24

Oh man.  Student midwifeness suuuucked compared to midwife-ness.  Being a midwife is AWESOME (see signature for proof). 

I'm not on someone else's schedule.  I work hard, but it's different. 

I have a feeling that completing your apprenticeships will help.  You'll only have one job, rather than three. 


Homeschooling isn't my thing, so I won't/can't offer advice there. 

post #11 of 24
Originally Posted by completebeginnings View Post

I guess for a lot of people there isn't anything wrong with that. :) I spoke to a friend about her experiences with her midwives(4) and she shared that the one whose house was a mess and who brought her young children to her prenatals seemed more human and my friend felt more at ease about her own short comings. I have been trying to find more balance. I think with me the difficult thing is that I am in an awkward place in my business. I am taking my own clients but I am also still finishing up two seperate apprenticeships. So that is a lot of time away and driving and sleep deprivation etc. I think when I am completely on my own and able to make my own schedule etc. it will be easier. This is such an awkward time. I really dislike being a teenage midwife. Thanks for all of the ideas.



In all honesty, the last 6 months of my apprenticeship were the hardest by far.  I was balancing my preceptor's client load, my own client load and studying/taking/passing the NARM.

My recommendation is to take a month off if you can after you finish your apprenticeships.  I just happened to end up with no clients due in Dec/Jan so was able to put all my clients into one day once a week for the month of Dec and it was SO refreshing for our family.  I enjoyed working with my preceptor very much, but I don't miss the crazy "driving all over the place to apprentice with a midwife 2 hours away stuff"!


Other than that, I really think the key is planning time off or just keeping your client load manageable from month-to-month.

post #12 of 24

I know of the midwives you speak of.....and I think that maybe you have to be a bit like that in the first place in order to end up like that.  If you're not organized, if you don't set boundaries, if you don't take a little time for yourself, you become "one of those."  If you sacrafice yourself for everyone else and not take care of YOU, how can you give your clients the best care?  I'm not talking about getting manicures every week but I'm saying that you need at least a day off a week without appointments.  We tell our moms how important nutrition is yet we fail to take our own advice.  I know a midwife who is so involved with her clients and their lives that (IMO) it borders on stalking.  No thanks.  I don't have time for that.  You can give great care and attention to your clients without being their best friends.  (Of course, many end up as being friends but you know what I'm trying to get at.)


Everything in moderation.  If you're going to the extreme, you'll see it by feeling stressed all the time, your relationships will fail, you won't plan things with your family and friends, you won't take care of yourself and your health will suffer.... and it's a downward spiral from there.  If you can't find the balance, take a break.  Reset.  Find your passion again.

post #13 of 24

I'm going to be really honest, part of me bristles at this post.  I think I am one of "those" midwives of which you speak, to some extent.


I gained 40 pounds (during my apprenticeship!), my kids are no longer homeschooled (although that is a choice that had NOTHING to do with my career as a midwife and everything to do with my career as a mother), and I have a ton of unfinished projects.  Plus a lot of other things on your list.  However, "knowing" you from this forum for a little while now, I'm going to take this post as a plea for help and guidance rather than an attack on me.  Just know that your help and guidance (in this post, anyway) is coming from someone who is not entirely successful in not being one of "those" midwives.


I think it's really important to decide what is important to you.  In your list of things you want to do (or not neglect), there are a lot of biggies.


I see:

Your physical health

Your children's education

Your marriage

Your personal appearance

Your friendships

Your household organization

Your finances

Your creativity

Your relationship with your children


So, decide what is an absolute.  For me, my marriage was tops, but we had to work at lot on this aspect because there was a time where my husband's choices for our family put my midwifery career in danger.  I wasn't sure that I could choose between the two of them and my husband finally got to a place (as we worked through it) where he realized that I am a midwife.  There is no Charlotte who isn't a midwife...I wouldn't be the same person to him if I were forced to quit.  Along those lines, we decided during that dark time in our relationship that financial security was going to have to take a back burner to my career and we made some decisions based on that.  I wouldn't be exaggerating to say that (in light of the decisions my husband made unilaterally) continuing my midwifery career bankrupted us.


The organization of our household has been something that we're having to find balance on.  I am 100% responsible for it.  I did a pretty darned good job until I put my kids in (private) school, started school myself, and experienced an exponential growth in my practice all in the same six months.  Now, 9 months later, we're working on divide and conquer.  Our house is always a mess, but we are both bearing responsibility for that mess and to me, that's progress.


My personal appearance has improved as I've grown as a midwife.  Now that I run into clients all over town and I'm always the face of my business, I put a lot more thought into my hair, or my clothes, or my makeup.  I still go six months between haircuts (always have, my whole life), but I look a lot less like a frumpy SAHM than I used to (no offense to SAHMs...I was choosing to be frumpy!).


But here's the thing: you can't do it all.  You are going to have to let something go.  Even if you have a very very small practice (and you're still in apprenticeship, aren't you?) or you are going to have to realize that you cannot be Suzy Homemaker AND a career woman.  It just doesn't go together to can 100# of peaches when you're on call for 5 women.  Can 5# at a time, and do it 20 times if you.  Or buy 100# and wash, slice and freeze them in 5# bags, THEN can them as you have time.


And please know that when it is YOUR CHOICE what you do and what clients you take, it's a whole different ball game.  I've gotta run (as always!), but I would really like to encourage you more on this.  Message me if you'd be open to a phone conversation :-).


Blessings to you...working this stuff out during your apprenticeship is a GOOD thing.  I'm glad you're not waiting until you've become someone (or something) you don't like to sit back and take inventory :-).


Edited by Charmie981 - 4/8/11 at 8:20am
post #14 of 24

Can I just say that I really stink? I am sitting here laughing at my post, which makes it sound like I have stuff figured out. I, right now, am sitting in the most chaotic, messy home. I have school work that I have fallen behind on. I have about 100 unanswered personal emails and texts.  My hair desperately needs a cut and color, my eyebrows.... well.... they are taking over my face. I had a birth, my husband had a work week that was insane, one kid got pink eye, another had a cold, our house turned into a pit, and life got nuts. I just think this is the balance stuff of being a working mother, not just a midwife. Midwifery throws extra challenges in there because the schedule can always change and be quite demanding, but much of this just happens with working mothers.  I have plans to whip this place together tomorrow and hopefully get caught back up on everything, but I will never have it all figured out or all put together.






post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for all of the responses. I think I was having one of those I'm drowning weeks. Things will improve and right now I am choosing to pick my battles as seeing where I am in a year. After rereading my post I think a big part of my issues come from being so broke. Just like so many of you have pointed out you don't exactly roll in the dough and put in a large amount of hours as a midwife. In my 3 year apprenticeship my dh went out on his own--and isn't doing so well financially(he is an attorney), I had an unexpected and complicated pregnancy as did my preceptor---5 months apart, I had a baby with severe reflux and weight gain issues and who is just plain onery much of the time, I had surgery that put me flat on my back for almost 3 months(hysterectomy, cystocele and rectocele repair), found out that NARM didn't accept my main preceptor as a preceptor so I had to add a second apprenticeship and put taking the NARM on hold so I could complete all of my paperwork once again all while attending births (about 80) and raising 4 children under 8. No wonder I am worn out and afraid. It has been one heck of a few years. And I didn't mean anything negative about my first post. I know lots of midwives who practice that way who are wonderful and happy. I know I wouldn't be happy living that way for long. I like order. Once of my preceptors is pretty much just as I described. She is very happy and well adjusted. Most of her clients know that is just how she is and she has so much on her plate that she is just kind of a flake..but others are really unhappy with how unprofessional she can come off as. It is a blessing to work with her as  she is also an amazing herbalist and takes on a lot of higher risk clients. I will do my 3rd and 4th set of twins with her in the next few months. And I have only been working with her since last June. Right now I am taking 3 months at a time. I am going to focus on eating better and exercising for the next 3 months. Then maybe my house. Then maybe something else. I tend to get overwhelmed when I look at the big picture. Hopefully I can sit for the NARM in Feb. and will be done with my apprenticeships(one is turning into a partnership and the other is opening a birth center where I was asked to come on as a midwife) and start to feel that I actually have a small amount of control in my life. Just a small amount though. :)

post #16 of 24

It really is so much different when you are the midwife and you set your own boundaries instead of being subject to someone else's boundaries.  It makes a HUGE difference!  And it sounds like you are going to be in a really good place after your apprenticeship: you'll have a partner and have privileges at a birth center.  It's just a matter of keeping your head above water until you get there.  Taking NARM in February will totally change your life...you do this until then!  Also, have you thought about taking NARM at MANA conference in November?  It would get you finished that much sooner and when I took it at MANA, I got my results back really, really fast.  I think my apprentice is going to take hers there this November as long as she can get the rest of her primaries in.

post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

I can't take the NARM at the MANA conference since my main preceptor who I have worked with the longest and done the most births with was not approved as a NARM preceptor because she isn't a CPM and was 6 months short of being on her own long enough to qualify. Really stinks. So I basically have had to redo all of my numbers and my second preceptor has 3 other apprentices so we have to share numbers and primaries. It is a pain. Also having to have paperwork turned in 4 months before the exam changes things a lot. I know it will all be worth it and I will rise the be the woman, mother, and midwife I know I can be. Thanks for the support.

post #18 of 24

This is a great thread!

post #19 of 24

This is an excellent thread. I suppose that for me, it took a while to get into my groove but it is so much easier as a midwife than it was as an apprentice. I had to let go of some unrealistic expectations though. I know other midwives who have 8 or 9 kids that they homeschool, they eat all organic, make their own clothes, are active in their churches, have happy marriages, etc. But, I had to realize that that is just not going to be me. I now have two children that I cyberschool and two that go to public school. Cyberschool takes out all of the paperwork and lesson planning and sending the other two to school lessens my workload tremendously, allowing me to have time for me and allowing me to be a better midwife. And you know what, my kids are actually happier and better now that I am not their only teacher. They have matured so much and I'm really proud of how they are turning out. I have a ton of scrapbooking and sewing projects that are not done and probably will not be done for quite a long time, but it's ok, my craft projects are simply not a priority. We can't always afford all organic food and I don't have the space now to garden, but I buy fresh when I can, and when I can't and have to quick make *gasp* hamburger helper for my family because I'm too zonked to make anything else, I'm grateful that I have food to give them. My van is a mess, a total mess, but hey, I have five children and a busy life, so that's just how it is. As long as there isn't goo on the seats it's all good. My house isn't a mess, but it is definitely not pristine. I always have laundry to fold, smudges on walls, counters often grimy, and some floor somewhere always needs swept or vacuumed. I don't need to lose thirty pounds, but ten would definitely be an improvement, and 15 to 20 would be superb. I don't work out, but then I never have really.


But, I do make time for me. I do get regular haircuts and my eyebrows waxed. I go shopping for new clothes when I can and do not look frumpy, ever. I make my sexual relationship with my husband a priority...that's why God invented the xbox 360, so that parents could distract their children with something noiser than they are and they can spend quality time undisturbed by said children. My hubby also knows he will get a lot more love from me if he gives me a massage first, so if I am stressed, all of that melts away. We also go out to eat with each other once a week, it's our "date" time, even if the budget only allows for short order. I also go out with each of my children, separately, at various times throughout the year. Money issues are tougher, and owning your own business means that it will ebb and flow depending on how busy you are. Not too much to do about that, it's the nature of the beast. I have a couple of lactation consultants that I refer clients to. If it's anything more than a minor issue that I can help them correct over the phone or just after their birth (I of course don't leave until they've nursed), they get a referral. It's better that way anyhow, lactation consultants are the true experts in the field, so use them and prevent having to deal with breastfeeding emergencies at all hours on your own. I also regularly see my best friends, every 2 or three months we have a girls night out. They are not in the birth field, and we've been friends since jr. high. It's the best thing ever! I've gone from being constantly overwhelmed and depressed by all the things I wasn't doing and how I wasn't measuring up, to being pretty content with who I am and how my life is right now. My husband and I have gone through our rough patches, but being a midwife is what I am, and this is how our life will be as long as I am in this field. He is who is and he isn't going to change so I had to accept that as well. And you know what? It's all good.

post #20 of 24

(this is looong.. mostly a reflection, sorry for the length!)


My children opted to try out public school this year and after over a decade of homeschooling I was okay with it. The transition went smoothly and they all enjoy it. Now we're in Virginia and they get to go to school with their cousins - which they love even more! I'm a single mom of six, so it really hasn't made my life easier, but I confess that I do enjoy NOT doing lesson planning! :) If they decide to come back home, that'll be fine too. I honestly believe my life will be -less- harried as a midwife than it was as a VERY busy apprentice, student, etc. 


I do need to lose weight, but did pre-midwifery as well. My mantra has been "practice your practice" -- so I'm following my own nutrition advice.


As for haircuts.. I'm cheap. It gets trimmed when it needs it and life goes on. For a birth, my hair is brushed and pulled up in a bun. For everyday life, it's brushed and hangs loose. I've decided it's very hippie and I'm cool with not owning a hair dryer or hair spray for that matter. ;) Less chemicals, less fuss, less money spent.. and I do think I look nice, I just don't want some frufru hairstyle that needs a lot of attention. (I did dye my hair because the silver streak was starting to get to me. Daughter used a blue/black and it's awesome. The silver streak turned DEEP blue and the rest is black. $6 well spent!)


My house is tidy. It's necessary for my happiness. I also want to be able to use my home for client meetings. Plus, we live in the sticks, yet have neighbors that wander over and being embarrassed by my home would be TOO much for me. I'm not a neat freak. I am a major simplifier. My living room has a large scarlet red sofa from home reserve (awesome furniture lots o' storage) , tv stand (with storage under), and an ottoman. We line book bags up along the wall. Hardwood floors which take moments to sweep. Dining room is just a piano (needs refinished. It is an eye sore, but I loves it! :) and the huge oak table with cheaper chairs I bought because they stack and wipe down great. I couldn't afford $100 pop for other wooden chairs. Plus it has a large oil painting. Hardwood floors as well. Kitchen is minimalist.. and that rounds out my downstairs. Having less stuff means having less work. The kids rooms can have their doors shut (girls are messy'ish, boys are not. 3 kids in each room) and I can ignore their clutter for the most part. All of their books and toys live upstairs, even the 4yo's. We live in an old farmhouse and have ONE bathroom that happens to be upstairs.  The major major perk of this house is it has a gazillion windows, so I can get away with very little decoration (again, I have one painting downstairs, no nicknacks except house plants and a cockatiel!) because there are lovely views of nature everywhere you look. Simplicity makes housekeeping so easy.. even in a small house with 7 people, 1 bird, and a dog.


My kids know that vacation WILL happen. 100% guaranteed. However, they know everything else is up to births. We will sometimes celebrate bdays a day early just to make sure if it looks like someone might labor. I have backup helpers for special occasions if I think I might be gone - and have sometimes had folks host things at my house without me there. But my children (15, 13, 11, 7, 6, & 4) are very much like their mom. Laid back. I don't stress kodak moments, I don't stress holidays with the special whatevers, I enjoy what is going on when it's going on. We enjoy the HECK out of it as we have it and it all balances. They're okay that I missed a bday because when we have free time a lake day might turn into a major fun event -- usually free. We're frugal. We love each other, I love them. I smother them in love (not stuff) when I can and let them know all the time that they inspired me to be a midwife and are my great helpers. 


Learn to shut off when it's time to.  Accept that there is abundance if you sloooow down and let it happen. Realize that to have money it sometimes adds up slowly. It's that $1 you didn't spend on a trinket and the $3 you saved in gas by not going to xyz when you didn't need to. It's the $15 shirt you skipped and so on. Spend money on the important to you stuff and stop on the things that don't matter. 


Now that my apprenticeship is done, I do crafts again. I'm getting back into digital scrapbooking and this winter will be working on a quilt top my mother pieced. I'm crocheting a blanket. I'm reading fiction (YES! It does exist!!). I'm not studying for NARM every free moment! (hurray!) There's a life on the other side of apprenticing. Really. 


I still have friends, we use FB to communicate a lot. I just moved so I need to make more friends here. I went to an open house/movie at the invite of another midwife and truly enjoyed myself. But I do want non-midwife friends so I'm scouring the area for whatever else socially there is. 


I think a balance can be found, the stress (at least for me) does decrease. Just today I was telling my best friend how AMAZING it is to be a cpm now, to be DONE with all of the studying, planning, stressing, etc and the "What if I don't pass??" thoughts and so on. Now I read because I always want to learn, but it's with a true pleasure again and not at all about The Test! I finished a Crichton novel and today went back to Myles. It's like the apprenticeship ends and you get this whole new love back for what it is that you're doing. 


Hang in there. And declutter. Really. It'll change your whole outlook on life! :) 


And another tip that has REMARKABLY decreased my mental fog and made me a happier person -- LEARN SINGLETASKING. 


http://www.flickr.com/photos/caterina/3270176074/ -- not always possible, but a great goal. A lot of time is frittered away when we look/act busy but have no results.

http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/ - I like this too.  





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