Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Book Review// Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent

It's been a few weeks now since I read this book, and it since has been borrowed by a friend, but the passionate stories within have imprinted on my mind as if put there by a branding iron! Peggy Vincent's captivating storytelling combines with a seemingly never-ending supply of interesting life experiences to make this book a quick and pleasant read - one that I finished in a single afternoon on account of walking around with it glued to my nose, unable to put it down. 

You may have guessed by the title that Peggy Vincent is a midwife, but she is not just any midwife - she is one of the pioneering midwives of America's recent natural birthing movement, and this book is a series of short stories which capture beautifully her career. It talks not just of beautiful home births, but also the challenges that faced midwives in the early days, battles against obstetricians and hospital policy, the challenges of setting up a birth centre, legal problems and birth complications, all done in a captivating way. 

It is a book that has reinvigorated the passion within me for natural childbirth. It has lifted my spirits in a time of struggling with university, despairing my choice to switch degrees into midwifery, and restored my faith that being a midwife is my calling. It awakened me to the stark differences between Australian and American birthing practices, and it left me swelling with pride for the profession that I have chosen to enter into. Having said all this, I do not think this book's magic is reserved for midwives or midwives-to-be. I think that anyone who loves a bit of riveting adventure would love this book, especially if you happen to enjoy non-fiction and be even just slightly partial to medical dramas (who isn't, amiright?). 

All-in-all, it is a compelling light read and I cannot sing it's praises enough. Amidst all the heavy medical textbooks and terminology I'm forced into reading for university, I really enjoyed this little reminder of what midwifery is all about and the magic of childbirth! 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

From Student to Midwife: Part 2 - Reflection on my First Semester

So, last week was a little quiet on the blog because I had exams. Incredibly hard exams. My first exams for my midwifery degree. In the above picture, I am procrastinating on the day before my physiology exam, with a terrible head cold and wearing a smile to mask the cold lump of fear in the pit of my stomach. As I've mentioned before, I've found this semester quite difficult. Going from an Arts degree to a Health degree is a huge transition, and so I'm a little out of practice with exams, having spent the past year and a half writing essays instead.

I found out last week that I have passed one of my subjects, however our marks aren't officially released for another couple of weeks yet. I'm fairly confident that I also passed nutrition, and fairly convinced that I failed physiology and will have to repeat it next year.

Right now, I have a few blissful weeks off before starting Summer Semester, which I opted to do this year to speed up my degree a little. It starts on the 20th of October, and I'll be doing Anatomy, Research and Evidence Based Practice and Pharmacology, the last of my generic health units before I start my midwifery units in February next year. Apparently Anatomy involves some viewing of cadavers, which both repulses me on one level and has my inner freaky, science nerd screaming "COOL!"

While I haven't enjoyed this semester quite as much as I was hoping, I have learned a lot and I'm one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a midwife. I'm looking forward to a few weeks break and getting through a little more of my extracurricular reading about midwifery in the meantime. One semester down, seven more to go!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Bright Bedroom Wishlist & Moving Home*

Bright Bedroom

Those of you who follow me on various social media platforms will probably already know that I moved back in with my parents this weekend. There were a variety of reasons for this - the main one being my health and I've realised that it's definitely the right option for me at this time in my life. I won't be moving out again in a hurry, and for the first time in a long time, I'm finally going to have the money to decorate a little!

The above colour scheme was inspired by that awesome, lime green bean bag which is from Bean Bag Boss, and the brightly coloured floral duvet cover which is from K-mart and is currently on special for just $29! Moving back into mum and dads means that a lot of my stuff is having to go into storage, and I'll be back to a single bedroom again, so I like the idea of the bean bag so I have somewhere to sit and read, away from the rest of the crazy house, and can just tuck it out the way under the bed or in a corner when I'm done.

This is a slightly brighter take on the pastels that I usually go for, but I love that all I'd have to do is switch out the duvet cover to return to that softer look if I wanted to. I'm currently working on a bright/pastel granny square blanket to fit a double bed and think the pops of colour in this little collage would go really well with the yarn I've chosen. Any guesses what my favourite colour is? Hint: it's everywhere in the above picture! Follow the links below the collage to find out where everything is from! What do you think of this colour scheme? Anything in particular that you love from this collage?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Casual Spring Outfit

Lately I have been thinking a lot more about how I dress and what style clothes I want to be wearing. Style is a funny old thing, and I find that unlike some people, I'm not attracted to any one particular style of dressing, but rather like to adapt my style to my mood, the weather and where I'll be going that day. As is begins to warm up here in Australia, I'm finding myself particularly attracted to clean, crisp colours, small details on colour blocked outfits and chiffon. The other direction I find myself dressing in is a floaty, bohemian style which very much suits the leisurely lifestyle in my beachy hometown, and then of course there is my perpetual love of vintage silhouettes and florals.

This outfit very much fits in with the clean, crisp look that I've been adopting lately, aside from the crystal around my neck, which I bought using a $50 voucher I recently won in Christina Lowry Designs' Facebook competition. These white shorts are probably my most worn piece of clothing at the moment, as I am willing the summer weather to really set in. I had my first beach day on the last day of September, and you may notice in these photos, I'm a little bit sunburnt on the front, and bright red (and in tonnes of pain) on the back of my legs. It makes a great (albeit unwanted) contrast with the white shorts, but hopefully it will turn to tan soon. 

Top: Temt
Shorts: Valleygirl
Shoes: Big W
Bag: Custom made leather in Bali (thanks mum)
All Other Jewellery: My regular, every day stuff, gifted

I've been wanting to share outfit photos on here for as long as I've been blogging, and I'm incredibly glad I've finally done it, even if I've just used iPhone photos and it's only a casual outfit. As my style (or styles) develop, I want to document that on the blog, become more confident in the way I dress, and share comfortable, everyday outfits that are easy and cheap to recreate, because as much as I love fashion blogs, there is nothing more depressing than not being able to afford the clothes that the people who write them are wearing. I wore this outfit today to meet a friend for coffee in my hometown and I felt incredibly put together despite only being in casual clothes. We had a great chat, talking wedding stuff (hers is coming up in April) and planning ways to convince Jake to move to Evans Head with me and join the rugby club with her fiancĂ©. Our partners have been good friends since before we met and I am really keen for him to get more involved socially in things in Evans Head, because as much as I love Lennox it's just way too out of our price range and Evans Head will always be home. What do you think of this casual style? Are you a one style kinda gal, or like me, do you match your style to your mood? 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Book Review// Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin

For months and months, one name has been bubbling at the back of my mind. It's dropped into lectures, tutorials, midwifery blogs and conversations between peers. Ina May Gaskin - the mother of the natural birth movement. 

When you're a midwifery student, birth is on your mind 24/7. Every full moon, I look up at the sky and wonder how many babies are being born at the time. I see pregnant people everywhere, and I'm always itching to ask them about their pregnancy and birth plan. If I see a new mother, I immediately want to know what their baby weighs, how old it is and hear her birth story in excruciating detail. With my first semester as a student midwife drawing to a close, and exams and assessments stressing me out, I found myself wondering why am I doing this to myself? I turned to Clemmie Hooper, the writer of my favourite midwifery blog, Gas and Air, on twitter to ask which Ina May Gaskin book she would recommend to a student midwife, desperate to reignite her passion for caring for women in the midst of stressful physiology and nutrition exam prep. The answer - Spiritual Midwifery.

The book opens with a collection of beautiful, natural birth stories in which Ina May and her gang are finding their way as midwives and the mothers are made to feel empowered and beautiful throughout their birth. For Ina May and the Farm midwives and the women they serve, giving birth really is a spiritual experience. They are without fear and they ride their "surges" like a surfer rides a wave, finding their own unique ways to deal with the intensity of birth and help their bodies open up to bring a baby into the world. I was totally in awe of every single woman in this book! Never have I read such a massive collection of birth stories which are so positive about the experience and so natural in happening! 

The second part of the book talks in detail about midwifery practice, with more demonstrative birth stories along the way. Of course, as with reality, there are not always happy endings, but the statistics at the back of the book show a remarkable disparity between the birth statistics on The Farm, which show an overwhelming majority of natural births and extremely low intervention rate, and the rest of America.

I could not put Spiritual Midwifery down and I know it will be a valuable tool in my career. While reading my copy of the book, I envisioned creating a little "library slip" for the inside cover and lending it out to friends, family and colleagues over the years. Already it has made it's way to Yamba for one of my fellow midwifery students and good friends to read on her holiday. 

This book really opened my eyes to the magic of birth, and the power of the experience. While some bits were sort of hippy-dippy, overall, I absolutely loved it. The pages are interspersed with beautiful black and white photographs of happy families and women in birth, and gorgeous, symbolic illustrations are peppered throughout. It was both informative and entertaining, and I would recommend Spiritual Midwifery as a MUST READ to all expectant mothers, midwives and midwifery students, and as an interesting read to anyone who enjoys a good birth story!

Friday, 12 September 2014


Spring is right around the corner here in Australia, and it’s already starting to warm up, so inspired by Kate from Clear The Way’s Write It Out series, I decided to share this piece of writing I did last year in my creative writing class at University. It’s a little story about “Spring” returning from a holiday and setting about her work once more. It might be a little corny, but it was a fun little exercise to do to get me into a creative mindset. I hope you enjoy it.

Light filtering through the curtains woke me, and birds seemed to call from a distance as I pulled myself out of bed. It was my first day back at work after a long vacation, and the bitter cold of the morning did not sit comfortably on my skin. I dressed in layers, knowing that the day would get warmer as it went on, and set out for work. Eira had been the last person to work my post while I was away, so I was nervous to see what mountain of work was waiting for me as I made my way into town. Traffic was slow, and the coffee I bought on the way not quite warm enough to fight the cold of early morning. Sure enough, when I arrived at work and finally seated myself at my desk, I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do. Eira always left me snowed under when he covered for me on my time off.

The morning went quickly, as I buried myself in my work. Lunchtime was just around the bend when I decided it was time to take a break and wended my way through the rabbit warren to the tearoom. Sipping icy cold spring water, I unbuttoned my cardigan and watched as the office birds flew in, eager to hear where I’d been. Conversation carried on politely through my entire lunch hour.
“I hate to rain on your parade, ladies, but I really must get back to work now.” A sunny smile, and off I went back to my desk, still not quite caught up on the work that Eira had left me. As the afternoon came to a close, I stepped out of the office glad to be going home and completely satisfied with what I had achieved for the day.

Warm sunlight mingled with a slight breeze on my cheek, and loose strands of hair danced around my face as I walked to the car. A feeling of contentment spread through my body, and I closed my eyes to enjoy the moment. I’m back, I thought. I’m back at work; doing what I love and I could already see the sparkle in the eye of those around me that came with spring. The sun glowed pink on the horizon as I pulled back into my driveway, and cicadas greeted me like old friends as I made my way to the front door. “Goodnight, sun!” I called out into the evening, as it disappeared over the horizon. “We’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow.” It’s a tough job awakening the world after winter, and on the first day of Spring, I knew the both of us would need all the rest we could get.

Monday, 8 September 2014

On wearing glasses and body image

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my looks. I know that sounds narcissistic at first glance, but please let me explain:

We all know there is a lot of pressure in society for females in particular to look a certain way. We've all had to deal with stereotypes based on our looks, with judgement and criticism, and I'm sure that most of us, at some point, have been ashamed of our bodies, or at least certain aspects of them. I have been ashamed of aspects of my own body, and struggle with body image on a daily basis. I was bullied in school, first for having freckles and wearing glasses, and later for being "too thin". I was called anorexic, I was called "horse face" (my head is kinda long) and was ashamed of the body and face I was born with. When I was in year 8, the bullying (not just about my body, but about other stuff too) got so bad that I developed severe depression and was having thoughts I'm not proud of. It all culminated in me getting a ball to the face (deliberately), which pushed my glasses back into my eye sockets and bruised my face, with me snapping and hitting the main antagonist back (open palm, but to this day the only thing I regret about the situation is not doing it sooner, and not doing it with a clenched fist), and a change of schools which made me infinitely happier, and ended the bullying (for the most part. Teenage girls can be mean!).

The incessant bullying, the comments on my body, they stuck with me. I won't pretend that "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger", because that is bullshit. The comments these people made to me, the confrontations, the name-calling and the insults have all stuck with me. They're branded in my mind and soul and I have to battle those demons every day. The things that have stuck most are the comments about my glasses. I know the word "nerd" is seen as endearing and "in" right now, but believe you me that when you're a preteen struggling to come to terms with being female, with society's ideas of what is "pretty", being called a nerd is not cool.

For years I struggled to accept the fact I need to wear glasses. I've had them since I was seven years old and so spent all of my teen and preteen life feeling ashamed of my freckly face and the metal frames that were perched on it. Despite needing to wear glasses pretty much all day every day, you will be lucky to find a photo of me wearing them in my teenage years. Every time someone whipped a camera out, my glasses came off. To my silly little brain, glasses were ugly, and wearing them made me an ugly nerd. 

I'm happy to report that somewhere along the line, once I left school I had a change of heart. Thanks to the sudden attention of boys, my confidence built. I'm totally ashamed to say that it took a male's approval to shake me out of my silly, unconfident, glasses-hating ways, but it's true. A guy told me I was beautiful while I had glasses on, and kissed me and I remember excitedly telling my mum when I got home "He thinks I'm beautiful with my glasses on!" as if it was a total miracle. I started wearing eye make up to accentuate my eyes behind the lenses, I bought a pair of attractive designer frames and I began to own those glasses! I began to accept them as a part of me! I wear them as if they're a banner saying "I'm an attractive, well-educated, intelligent and classy woman, dammit! And my glasses frame my face and draw attention to my sparkly green-brown eyes!"

Recently, I have begun considering getting laser surgery on my eyes to fix my short sightedness. It's something the teenaged me wanted for years, but 20 year old me is in two minds about it. Over the past three years, as I have come to accept and even love my freckly, glasses-wearing face, I've begun to feel like my glasses are a part of me. Contrary to my teenage years, these days you're lucky to find a photo of me not wearing my glasses! I feel as if my face looks naked without them, and as much as I'd love to not have to constantly wipe my glasses in the rain or wear safety goggles over my glasses like a fool in my lab classes so I can see my experiments, I think I would kind of miss them if I didn't have to wear them anymore.

It's been a long road to acceptance of my body and face and self-love for me, but I know I'm not alone in my experiences. Is it really so crazy to think that I may miss my glasses, which gave me such hell growing up, if I were to have my vision fixed? Won't I still be the attractive, well-educated, intelligent and classy woman without them? I'll just have to find something else to draw attention to my eyes and frame my face.