Friday, 13 May 2011

Self esteem and confidence

Following a conversation with a friend of mine today I have been pondering self-esteem and confidence. This particular friend is someone whom if you don't know very well comes across as a confident self-assured person, but once you get to know her, you discover that inside she has low self-esteem and hardly any self-confidence at all. This pondering led to me to wondering about other people that I know and judgements I have made about them and their confidence levels. Also at what point does it become vain to talk about what you are good at?

As a child I was very shy and I didn't have a lot of confidence in myself - I was bullied for my weight from a very young age and it certainly had an impact. As a young adult, I was still shy but I began the process of bullying myself out of it. Amongst friends I was completely confident but place in a new situation and I was a blushing mess. Friends, family and boyfriends could compliment me but I'd think they were only saying it to be nice, and I didn't really believe them. These days I'd imagine most people would be surprised to hear me describe myself as shy as I probably come across as quite confident. I guess the truth is I am far more confident than I have ever been before. I do have good days and bad days the same as anyone else but on the whole I am more confident in myself. 

It's not that I just woke up one day and discovered self-belief but gradually I came to realise that I was more confident in myself. In part I think it's down to my family and friends and the belief that they have in me - eventually it has to rub off right? However mainly I think it's because I finally found the one thing I believe I can be good at. I think I will be a good midwife....if I didn't think I could be good at it then I wouldn't be doing it. I also think I am a good Mum...I'm not a perfect Mum but who could be? I'm not afraid to say where I made my mistakes. I'm a good Mum because I learn from my mistakes. 

I'm not the best but I don't need to be. It took me a long time to find my niche and now that I have found it, I am determined to make it work the best way it can for me. It's made me feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin and a lot less worried about what others think of me. I know my weaknesses, so when they are knocking at the door, I can't always make them go away but I no longer invite them in for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Love me or loathe me, that's up to you. Loving myself makes me a stronger person, and a more confident person.

I also believe that confidence is going to be a vital component of being a good midwife. I need to confident in the decisions I make. I also need to be confident enough to be able to say when I don't know the answer to something. Confidence doesn't mean knowing all the answers...confidence means you know it's ok not to know the answer. 

So if you aren't confident, if you don't believe in yourself....then I just think it's a case of finding your niche....and sadly for some it takes longer to find. 

Sunday, 8 May 2011

5 years - a sensitive post!

Today it's been 5 years since my brother lost his fight against the brain tumour in his head. The night before I had been so happy, his son had been born on the Saturday and whilst he hadn't been well enough to be there, we were hoping that his wife and son would be home on the Monday and he'd meet his son. However in the early hours of Monday 8th May 2006, he slipped away peacefully in his sleep. Whilst he never did get to hold his son, he did at least know that he had been born and that had made him happy. Losing my brother changed me - in ways I can't really explain, all I know is, I am different to the person I was before he died.

This week a friend of mine had her life changed forever in one of the cruelest possible ways. Her son William, who was soon to be 3, didn't wake up. He hadn't been ill, though he'd been under investigations as it was thought he had epilepsy. They'd been on holiday and the day before they'd spent the day at the beach and he had thoroughly enjoyed playing in the sand, and chasing a beach ball. It is wonderful that his last day was so happy and carefree with his parents and older sister, and I am sure that those memories will bring comfort as well as pain in the days, weeks and years ahead.

I know William's mum, through an online community. Some people might fight it strange that I keep sobbing for William...after all I never met him. I have met his Mum but never his Dad or older sister. However the nature of the online community means it felt like I knew him, like I knew him almost as well as I knew my "real life" friends. I know I'm not alone in feeling like this - the whole community has been shocked. Many of us have children of similar ages, we've debated the SIDS guidelines, the appropriate weaning foods, breastfeeding, co-sleeping etc. It's seems trite to say it, but things like this don't happen to people you know but unfortunately that's just not true. Many members of the online community are buying and planting Sweet William, in his memory. A memory that should always be kept alive.

This week I have had times where I got cross with one of the girls for leaning on me, for not leaving me alone, for not going to sleep when they should, for not getting dressed quickly enough. I have worried about money and stressed over housework. When I read the news from my friend on Friday, all I wanted to do was gather the girls in my arms. I know I am not alone, in checking more frequently on the girls when they are sleeping. Life was thrown into perspective in a very harsh way.

I can't help William's Mum and family, I can't ease their pain. I can't begin to understand how they feel at the moment, though some feelings might be familiar to me, grief is different for everyone. Today I shall be spending time with my parents and my sister, and with our children. We will be lighting a candle for David, my brother and I shall light a candle for William. Take a moment today, to appreciate what you have - give someone a hug, tell someone you love them, smile.

RIP William, you will be missed x

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

And so begins 2nd Year

We are no longer shiny and new. We've all had different experiences on placement, good and not so good. We've all already started to think about the kind of midwife we want to be - learning from those we've been working with. We've even already become a little cynical about the changes we thought we could make because we've seen how restrictive working for the NHS can be.

I've been back in Uni for two days and already I feel revitalised and hopeful about my future. During one of courses we will be looking at hypnobirthing and complementary therapies and I am so excited...this is exactly the kind of midwife I want to be. I want to embrace normality and encourage women to believe in their bodies to give them the best possible chance of a normal birth. Did you know that it is a well known phenomenon that women's labours halt or slow down when they enter a hospital? Did you know that it was only once the doctors got involved that babies began to be born in hospitals instead of at home?

Don't get me wrong, I 100% believe that hospitals have their place and women and babies lives have been saved as a result. However I do believe that for the majority of women, home would be a perfectly safe place to give birth. I may well be biased having had personal experience of a home birth and loved it but it is something I am passionate about. Sadly I also believe that we are a long way off turning things around again. Women have different expectations now - they expect pain relief, they expect doctors or midwives to tell them what will happen and when, and so on. It's not that women are wrong but perhaps we are wrong in how we guide women's expectations if that makes sense?

It's not often that I hear people say that they loved their antenatal least not once they've had the baby. The most common statement I hear is that the classes didn't prepare them in any way? So is this where we are going wrong? Is this where we can make a huge difference to how birth and labour is viewed? I do believe that no-one can be fully prepared for just how much parenthood changes your life but I also believe we could prepare women better for birth, and increase the chances of a normal delivery. I've been on the receiving end of wonderful, inspirational antenatal discussion that led me to my home birth. However I was also fully prepared for if things hadn't gone to plan, and I still had plans in place to maintain control of MY birth. Shouldn't all women be given that opportunity?

I would also like to make the disclaimer that I am not saying that anyone who hasn't had a normal delivery, had unrealistic expectations. There is many factors to consider and I am certainly not in a position to judge whether or not someone was given the opportunity to have a normal delivery. Do you think you were well prepared for the birth of your baby?