I started writing this article about 6 years ago (had a different title then!), when I was an independent midwife, and I never finished it – it seemed a good time to finish it now and share it with you all, but due to the time lapse between beginning it and finishing it, I felt I needed to revisit my initial inspiration to make it fresh in my mind again.
The inspiration had come from a lazy Sunday afternoon, flicking through the television channels and settling on watching the film ‘Shark Tale’
So, I sat down again, cup of tea and pen and paper for notes in hand and began watching….”Finding Nemo”!
As the film began I started to scribble notes, and smile, excited to finish the article and share it with my peers, but as the plot progressed it didn’t seem the same as my first inspirational light bulb moment!
I carried on, and as I got to the last half an hour of the film I realized I was watching the wrong film! I thought about changing the article and pretending it was always based on “Finding Nemo” instead of “Shark Tale’, but telling the story of my mistake felt more honest. I made a mistake; I was trying to finish a few tasks at once and got it wrong. Sometimes we hide from mistakes, and sometimes we can find a way though and be adaptable. I chose the latter today!
As midwives, we often have to deal with challenging situations when caring for women, both as a professional and also as an advocate for the women. Just recently, I tried to deal with lots of challenges and difficulties at the same time, which left me tired, drained, and wondering whether I actually make a difference or not? This is not unique to me, my midwifery colleagues across the country encounter these times frequently and I wanted to share my thoughts with you all.
It made me think about how we keep going when times are tough. Who do we lean on? Who do we confide in? Who do we team up with? How do we get through and come out smiling?
So, back to the film- “Finding Nemo” is an animated film, based on a fish that loses his mother and is looked after by his father. His Father is worried about Nemo taking risks and tried to stifle his desires to spread his wings (or gills) and explore and follow his heart and his dreams. Nemo does take the plunge though, and goes off into the ocean against the advice of his father, and gets caught by a fisherman!
The film branches off :-
The father sets out in search of his son, makes unusual friends along the way in his quest, and searches against all odds and adversity. He receives support from an unlikely source – a group of sharks, takes some risks of his own and has to learn to trust and let go when swallowed by a whale to achieve his goal and move forward. He is kept motivated, by his unlikely friend Dory who tells him “…When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep Swimming!”
On the other side of the ocean, Nemo is trapped in a fish tank in a dentist surgery – he comes together with many other fish, with many different characters and backgrounds. He learns to adapt, and be brave, he finds a mentor and they make a plan to escape, and not conform to the restrictions around them. He tackles adversity and overcomes it, but not alone. He has support, and some fun along the way.
The film ends with father and son reunited and status quo resumes – as a result of hard work, friendship, mentorship, teamwork, sharing knowledge accompanied by sheer determination and blind faith.
This reminds me so much of being a midwife. There are good days, bad days, ups, downs, grief, loss, ecstasy and joy.
Sometimes we all get off track, midwifery can be a whirlwind of emotions, chaos, and joy. We get overwhelmed, we get swept along with others and sometimes we lose our way. We need to be kind to ourselves, and each other, and just keep swimming!
Find the strength to carry on, sometimes you have to look outside of your comfort zone, as the most unlikely people can be the greatest of support, talk to each other, carry each other and stand together and you can get through.
Sharing knowledge amongst midwives is an age-old tool that we have used for eons. The benefits are plethoric – aspiring, student, or new midwives learn from experienced midwives; midwives learn from each other, and from women.
We tell stories, debrief on trauma, recollect humour and console grief - Women supporting women, professionally and personally. We recall families that touched our hearts and changed our practice, and we share our intuitive knowledge to strengthen our own, and others practice. We learn, grow and change, and embed evidence-based practice into our work, whilst respecting the huge social element to a midwives role.
Midwifery sharing of knowledge is akin to a large family meal – something for everyone to enjoy, coming together as a family to just ‘be’ and gain knowledge and quench our thirst for learning and our passion and drive for women centered care.
Just Like Nemo, and his dad, you can do anything you set your mind to – with a little help from friends, support from sometimes the most unexpected of places, and a mentor to keep you going and guide you along the way. Sometimes our faith is blind, and you have to swim against the current, sometimes you have to swim down stream, and sometimes you have to swim full force in the direction of your dreams accompanied by your support network to overcome your problems.
Never look back and regret, never give up and you will be rewarded for all you have done and continue to for the women and babies of this world.
And, remember – when life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming!