Monday, 20 April 2015

At home beside the seaside*

My love of the ocean is no secret to anyone that has been following this blog for a while, or stalks my other social media from time-to-time, but once again I am going to take the chance to brag about my beautiful hometown and extend a special invitation to you all in the process. 

Almost my whole life, I've lived in a small coastal town. There was that one year when I moved to a big, coastal city, but let's try and forget about that, okay? That life was not for me! The life that is for me is a simple one. It's one where the crash of the nearby waves is heard as you buy bread and milk of a morning, where the sun shines at least 9 months of the year and jumpers are worn only sporadically, even in winter. It's one where there is only one decent coffee shop in town, where all the shop owners know your name and ask how your nan is going, where lush green fields meet with sand and sea. I love the small town vibe. I love walking into the shops with no shoes on, I love smiling and waving to everyone I meet down the street, knowing them all by sight, if not by name. I love going to the pub at Christmas time, rekindling old friendships with people back in town for the holidays. I love spending mornings at the beach and afternoons watching the sun set over the cane fields. 
The small town life in Australia is a beautiful one, and my small town is characteristically Australian. Bright and sunny, cheerful and friendly. Full of "g'days" and "howzitgarns" Sure, there is the odd snake or spider lurking in the corner, but life in small town Australia is a beautiful one. 

If my description of Australian small town life has piqued your interest, you should check out True Blue Migrations. True Blue Migrations is a registered migration agent with offices in Perth and Mebourne, to help sort out all your Australian visa needs. Head on over to their website to find out more about them, book a plane ticket and come on over to the land of brilliant beaches. I could use a few new friends in this small town!

Even my university, an hour and 20 minutes' commute from my small town, has beautiful ocean views!

*This post was sponsored by True Blue Migrations. All opinions presented are 100% my own.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Grow a vagina!

Today I saw this picture on Facebook and it really pissed me off, and since I don't do enough feminist ranting on the internet, here it goes! An open letter to the creator of this meme and people everywhere who use the vagina as a put-down!

Dear ________

First of all, making an ethical choice that goes against societal norms and gets put down in this way and sticking with it is a pretty gutsy thing to do, so I applaud vegetarians everywhere for doing so! Now what's this about a vagina?

I'm so sick of seeing people put other people down by calling them a "girl", a "pussy", a "cunt" or saying they have a vagina. What the heck kind of insult is that? Are you trying to imply they are weak, or that it is undesirable to have a vagina? Because I bloody love being a girl and I bloody love my genitals, and vaginas are fucking STRONG pieces of equipment! They are extremely muscular, and extremely versatile, being able to both hold the weight of a baby in the uterus until full term and stretch large enough to birth it - something which takes strength of character as well as using a whole variety of muscles! Not only that, but some women actually lift weights with their vaginas. How many men could do that with their penis? I'd bet not many!

Using misogynistic language that devalues and demeans women as an insult to men is so outdated. You're not cool. You just look silly! Almost every human on this planet was born out of a vagina, by a woman. Show some respect! As someone who works very closely with them, and owns one, I can assure you - vagina's are awesome! So please stop using them as an insult. If you don't the women in your life may start refusing you access to their magical vaginas in the form of sex (I know I would!).

Conversely, when someone is showing fear, or simply doesn't want to do something, don't tell them to grow a pair! It's equally as insulting to women as using the vagina and its synonyms as an insult. Not to mention totally illogical. Are balls supposed to be tough? Because the last time I accidentally bumped my boyfriend's I swear he almost cried in pain. HA! and you call think vagina's are the weaker genitalia? You have much to learn, my friend!

Friday, 20 March 2015

New Tattoo!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram or have seen me around in real life will already have seen this, but I'm going to share it anyway! A few weeks ago, I got a tattoo. Of a mermaid. Very large on my forearm. It was a massive step for me, going from barely inked, to very visibly inked just one week after taking the next step towards a health profession, but it was exciting all the same. I'd been wanting a large piece on my forearm for quite some time, and decided in December that any birthday money I got would be put towards one.

After a lot of searching, and careful consideration of tattoo ideas, I came across Merry's work - a tattoo artist from Rock of Ages in Lennox Head. I fell in love with her instagram instantly, and just knew that she was the one who would design my next tattoo. I decided that I especially loved the portrait-style tattoos she did of beautiful women, and so got in contact with her to ask that she draw me a mermaid face to be tattooed on my forearm. Four weeks after my initial email to her, there I was in the chair, getting tattooed!

Merry was very thorough in her emails, checking and double checking what I wanted, and sending me her sketches a few days before my booking to be approved. I had told her very little, really, and sent her only examples of her own work as a reference. I loved her style, and I trusted her to draw me something beautiful. What she came up with, incorporating the Deathly Hallows symbol into a ring rather than tattooing it on me separately, filling out the portrait with beautiful, coral-like fantasy flowers of her own imagining after my request not to have roses and adding a little pop of colour to her eyes, lips and cheeks, is better than I ever could have imagined!

I had the outline and shading all done in one session of almost four hours. I was getting a little restless by the end, but really, it went by quite quickly! Merry kept me relaxed and chatting the whole way through, using a little numbing spray every now and then while shading, as my arm was starting to swell a little and become a bit uncomfortable near the end. By the time she was shading the last flower, I could have sworn she was drawing on me with a pen, rather than a needle. I don't know whether I was just used to the sensation, or if the numbing spray was just working really well! While she worked, Merry told me that most women who get tattoos of women are getting a tattoo of their alter ego, which I rather liked the idea of. I love the ocean and love to read (especially Harry Potter), so the idea of this beauty being my alter ego sits okay with me! We also decided to call her Belle, for her beauty and because we are both massive Disney fans, but Ariel is much sillier than this wise mermaid!

Now that the tattoo is nicely healed, I can say that I am really, really impressed with the quality and detail of this tattoo. To me, this is a huge piece (especially on my skinny little arm!) but to Merry, it was quite small and she was worried she wouldn't be able to make her as detailed as the portraits she normally does on people's backs and thighs. Everyone I speak to, though, is greatly impressed!

Do you have any tattoos?

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Being an Advocate for Change

Something I'm hearing a lot lately at uni is how important it is to be an advocate for change.

Midwifery is a profession which is experiencing rapid developments at the moment, as birth is slowly returned to "normalcy" and attitudes surrounding birth are shifting away from the medical model and into the midwifery model. The benefits of less intervention, a quiet, dimly lit home-like (or home) environment, immediate skin to skin contact and delayed cord clamping, to name just a few things, are better known than ever, and thus the benefits of one-to-one care by a midwife, rather than an obstetrician, or obstetrical team, are coming into the spotlight, and midwifery is becoming a profession in its own right again! 

I'm really lucky to go to one of the only universities in Australia that offers a direct-entry Bachelor of Midwifery, with a strong, woman-centred focus and a curriculum which supports and encourages continuity of care between women and midwives throughout the ante-natal, peri-natal and post-natal periods. I count my lucky stars every day to be a part of such a degree, run by such enthusiastic, knowledgable and experienced midwifery academics. Being a young, childless, fresh-faced, enthusiastic first-year student, my eyes are really being opened to the disparity between evidence and practice in the hospital setting when it comes to maternity care, and I have no doubt that my opinion of what constitutes "good" midwifery practice will only grow as my degree, and indeed my career, goes on. 

Right now, what is really resonating with me is the lack of choice Australian mothers have over where they give birth. Many mothers probably don't even realise that they do indeed have a choice over where they give birth. They are simply sent from their GP straight to the hospital! So, I did what anyone with dreams of a career as a home birthing midwife would do and sent a letter to my local health district to ask that Medicare funded home birth be considered as an extension of the Lismore Community Midwifery Service, which delivers in-home antenatal and postnatal care to low-risk women in the Lismore area, and guess what? I actually got a reply!

So there you go - if you want to see change, be the change! This might not seems like much to some, but it's a start! We might even get the funding by the time I finish my degree - how cool would that be?

Monday, 23 February 2015

From Student to Midwife Part 4: First week in Midwifery Units

Hello all!
Lately I have been thinking about this little blog and have been itching to get back to writing again. As always, I've been thinking about the direction this blog is taking and I'm pleased to say that as of right now, you'll be getting a lot more midwifery information from me along with this little "diary" of my studies. Of course you will also be getting the odd personal or "lifestyle" post as well, but that part of my life is almost non-existent right now compared to the midwifery stuff, so you'll have to bear with me there a little bit! It's funny, isn't it? When I named this blog Little Foal I had no idea I'd ed up studying midwifery, or writing about it for that matter, but the name sort of fits, doesn't it?

Midwifery is one of the most rich, fulfilling things to study. It fills your soul and enriches your life. There is no one in the world as privileged as the midwife, for she is able to witness those very first, sacred moments of life. I feel very blessed to be equipping myself for a future in such a wonderful profession. I truly think there is no better job in the world, even if the study is gruelling and occupies all of my time!

Last semester was a stressful one, but I pulled through in the end. Where I last left you, I'd just finished my first round of assessments for Summer Session and was a little bit worried over how I would go with the tough anatomy and physiology subjects that I had to study for over the Christmas break. Well, I am pleased to tell you I actually ended up with a Credit in anatomy as well as my research subject, and scraped a pass in physiology as well! You wouldn't believe how relieved I was when I found out!

This week is my second week studying at the Gold Coast campus, and I'm so elated to finally be studying midwifery-specific units! This semester I'm taking Primary Health Care Midwifery, Midwifery Foundations and The Australian Health Care System. These units are designed to ready me for the practical placements I'll do next semester, and I'm really enjoying them so far! Midwifery has such an interesting history, and is a profession which is changing rapidly and asserting itself as a stand-alone profession in it's own right again after many years of being considered "subordinate" to nursing here in Australia. To be educated on these changes, and a part of the changes myself as a student and future professional is really exciting! I really believe in women's right to choose their care provider and have access to the best care that suits them, especially case-loading and continuity models of care which we are taught about at university, and I really hope to be the change we need in Australia to deliver that to women, both in my capacity as a student right now and my future as a midwife.

Right now, my studies consist of a lot of background stuff about midwifery and how it fits into the Australian health care system, and as of next week I will start learning practical skills in the lab, ready for my practical placements next semester! I've also started putting together my documentation for my placements, including my police checks and immunisation records. At the moment, all of that feels a little overwhelming, but I'm sure that I'll be feeling more settled soon.

Socially, I've made a great group of friends already from my local area and we had our first meeting for our group assignment today. We are all from totally different backgrounds, but we get along brilliantly and are all so passionate about midwifery. It's really nice. I've never had this at uni before! Our whole school of midwifery is like one big family. The lecturers are absolutely fantastic, knowledgable and approachable women, the second and third year students are lovely and helpful and there is a real sense that we are all in this together. No competition, just a sisterhood of women (unfortunately there are no men in our cohort!) who all have a singular passion and goal of becoming the best midwives we can be. I feel so supported and safe in my degree, which is really lovely!

Anyway, that's all for now! I hope you're al well! I'll try and check in on all your blogs soon! xx

Friday, 19 December 2014

From Student To Midwife Part 3: Summer Semester

I honestly intended to post so much more than I have in the past few months, especially about my midwifery studies. The fact that I haven't attests to how crazy and busy this semester has been. In my last update, my first semester in the Bachelor of Midwifery had just drawn to a close and my marks had not yet been released. Turns out I got credits in Nutrition and Health and Indigenous Australian Peoples, and as expected, failed Human Physiology. Failing Physiology is something that I really couldn't help due to my health last semester, so I decided that rather than wait to sit it again next year, I'd get stuck in and do it while the content is still fresh in my mind, which meant putting off Pharmacology until the end of next year and doing Human Physiology, Systemic Anatomy and Research and Evidence Based Practice this semester instead. 

I had no idea what I was getting myself into signing on for three units this semester. Let me tell you, it has been CRAZY!!! Summer semesters, being optional, are a condensed semester in which you "breeze through" up to three topics in each subject per week. All the lectures are online and labs are three per week. The assessments are constant and intense. The exams are terrifying. The workload is ginourmous and leaves you with very little free time. When you do have free time, your brain is so full of big words, you just want to curl into the foetal position and watch mind numbing TV. Or cry. I alternated between both all semester. 

Despite the intensity, I've actually found classes this semester quite enjoyable. The practical aspects of anatomy have been so much fun - we have done quite a few dissections and I enjoy working with the models until those dreaded things appear in the exams! The above photo was taken as I attempted to study in the revision lab. I was alone and bored and found myself playing with the body parts more than studying them. I've also made a few friends this semester, who are nursing students, which means that while I won't have any classes with them in the future, I've really enjoyed their company (and having people to study with) for the past few months. Also, because they're local, they are friendships that might just last!

Today I finished my first round of assessments/exams for the semester, just in time for my 21st party tomorrow night. My last exam was for anatomy and was a 50 question practical test on models. It was so intense and I walked away from it trembling a little because I found it so hard - I was not very well prepared! The good news is that I passed my midsession physiology exam though, which puts me in a very good position going into the final exam week on the 23rd of January! Between now and then, I don't have any more classes, but I do need to dedicate time for study, as I need every mark I can muster in those final exams and also have a research report due on the 5th, leaving little time for leisure following Christmas!

I still can't wait for this semester to be properly over. It's been a long 10 weeks and still four more to go! I'm really, really looking forward to starting classes at the Gold Coast campus next semester, where my subjects will all have a strong midwifery focus.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Salt Water Fixes Everything

Long, hot Australian summers are best spent at the beach or with a cider in hand. As the past few months have shown for me, salt water fixes everything - whether it be tears, sweat or the sea. I've had a tough time with uni this semester, feeling completely overwhelmed by my workload and experiencing anxiety over my exams. I have had assessments almost every week this semester and have more than once been brought to tears just entering the classroom. It's been very difficult.

My health has been worse for wear as well, and I've had a few relationship troubles peppered through the past couple of months - all those little obstacles life throws in your way to have you wishing for the fresh start brought by a new year.

If one thing has pulled me through these difficulties, it's my proximity to the beach.

The ocean has been a constant source of calm and comfort over the past few months, and I've found myself heading for the seaside, alone, quite often and not just due to the heat. The ocean offers me a calm like no other. It cleanses my soul and purges me of the negative thoughts and energy I'm carrying day-to-day. I'm not a very spiritual person, but I've never felt more close to the gods than when I'm in the sea.

The power the ocean has over me is awe-inspiring and goes back as far as I can remember. Running away from home as a kid always had me pelting towards the south wall, where I would perch atop a rock and let the spray of the ocean and ebb and flow of the tide wash my angers and upsets away. I would return home a different kid, the sparkle of the sun reflected off the ocean in my eye, and my heart full again just from watching the waves crash on the rocks as I curl my toes in the sand.

I posted the above picture to instagram the other day with the caption "I have sea foam in my veins, I understand the language of waves". The quote comes from the French film Le Testament d'Orphee - a film I have never seen, whose poetic lines have captured my imagination and spirit like no other. I find myself repeating it to myself like a mantra to get through hot and difficult days. The effect is soothing - I can sit back, chanting to myself and imagine the ocean wash over me, bringing with it a sense of calm that fights away my troubles and anxieties. I temporarily soothe my soul with these words as I eagerly await my next opportunity to head towards the ocean and replenish my calm and quietude in the foamy chaos of the sea.