I think I’ve worked out my survival mechanism as a midwife and why it might not be the best tactic for the pandemic. Like a koala in a forest fire – except less cute – my evolved coping mechanisms might not be the best plan.
One lovely mentor I had as a student gave me this advice after my long moan about how some piece of commonly-used equipment was in short supply. “Talia, choose your battles,” she said, and I took it to heart.
In day-to-day practice there are so many things a midwife or any other NHS worker could complain about. Equipment shortages, staff shortages, the difficulty of changing protocols, someone else’s working practices that you disagree with – it’s endless and, I’ve found, not very helpful to let myself feel angry about it. And from exhaustive research I know that lots of the big thinkers – Buddhists, Stoics, Kipling – agree with me. Well at least that was the vibe I got from the two youtube videos I watched. Anger at things that are outside your control is pointless.
I think one of my top skills is dropping things – metaphorically not literally. Literally dropping things is a really bad habit in a midwife. It’s hard to change things in the NHS so it’s better to accept and just do what you can with the things that are under your control.
But now I’m going into work and we have to crowd into a tiny changing room to get changed. Then we go into a slightly larger room to get handover from the previous shift. Everyone is deeply fatalistic as there is unfortunately a wide lack of masks and some other protective equipment at the moment. I haven’t been on the ward for a couple of days (writing this on March 26th and every day sees changes) so this may have altered. But from what I have heard it’s still not great.
Part of me wants to protest and shout – we have to change radically and quickly. We have to realise that we can’t be hands-on midwives like normally. We need to get those masks on to the wards and use them. We need to stop being business as usual.
But another part is telling me that for my sanity’s sake I have to accept the situation. Of course it must be hard suddenly sourcing millions more masks than are normally used. I’m guessing someone is doing quite a lot of overtime to try to remedy our shortages and me complaining about it in the meantime isn’t going to help.
To let you know, our maternity ward is working normally at the moment. There are a lot of staff off due to self-isolation but others are working extra and there are not many cases among our pregnant population. Yet…