This trip to Casa is different in a lot of ways than the trip last summer. I feel like I'm a completely different person. I have a lot more midwifery education and experience under my belt; I have some pretty specific goals for learning this time around. When I remember that I really only knew how to take a blood pressure and not much else, it's no wonder that the experience was overwhelming at times. I'm looking forward to this stay primarily because I'm feeling more confident with my skills.
But the last couple of days before leaving are feeling sad to me. I'll be gone 5 weeks this time. It's a long time. Short in the big scheme of things, but a long time to be away from my regular life. I'll be missing some births back home while I'm gone, and since they are clients I've come to know, that feels sad as well. My partnership with Andi in Appleton Community Midwives feels like it's taking on some inspired momentum, and now I won't be contributing much to that effort while I'm gone. I'm definitely measuring the trade-offs this year. The benefits of this experience are still out-weighing the drawbacks, but there is sadness there nonetheless.
So, 5/6 of the Farins drove to Milwaukee on Monday night. There we visited with cousins, and I stayed overnight because my flight left at 6 the next morning. Auntie Juj pointed out that my one, gigantic suitcase may not make the weight limit. We got out the bathroom scale and proceeded to shift my possessions around a bit while several people commented on the contents of my bags. I was trying to avoid having to ship a box this year, but it did make for some heavy bags.
My brother-in-law gave me an early morning ride to the airport through a bit of a mist. Awfully nice of him to wake up at 4:30 am to get me to the airport. Thanks, Steve! I like these early morning flights--they're cheaper, they're rarely delayed, and no one talks to you. It's my kind of flight. I had checked in via internet the night before, and it really made my experience at the ticketing counter a breeze. I was the only person in the web check-in line, so I literally cut in front of probably 30 people standing in line, handed them my bag, showed my ID and was on to security. Since there was a problem with their computers, it took everyone else another 45 minutes to check in.
The flight was uneventful; probably half of the travelers were sleeping. It was nice to fly over the clouds that have been so pervasive the last week or so at home, and to see the blue sky and sun out my window. As we descended into Denver, the plane slipped through a silky fog and we were once again under the blanket of grey clouds.
I had about an hour and 45 minutes to spend in the Denver airport. Food seemed important. Lunch at 9:30 in the morning is weird until you remember that you've been up for 5 hours already. And I decided that I wanted some reading material. I had planned on knitting during the flights, but in the great shuffle of my bags the previous night, not all of my things were in one place. Lunch first, then I set out to browse the tiny selection of books in the airport newsstand.
A bit of fiction was on my mind, something that didn't have anything to do with birthing babies. And it can't make my bags exceed the weight limit. Or be scary or violent. I feel like my heart has been cracked open wide by being a mom, and in my middle age has become a big mushy puddle. This situation is compounded by my chosen profession. I've met some seasoned midwives who seem like the kind who will hitch up their dog team and mush out to your birth in 20 degrees below zero, and perhaps kill something for dinner on the way there. Not me and my mush puddle of a heart, with tears brimming embarrasingly close to the surface at all times. I was pretty devastated by The Kite Runner and then The Life of Pi, read in quick succession some years ago, and I'm not sure I'm quite over it yet. I need my fiction to be gentle with me. A lightweight paperback of only 288 pages, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
My belly full, and my book tucked under my arm, I was soon boarding a small plane for the remaining leg of the journey to El Paso. I know many people don't like these smaller planes, but I think it's pretty cool to be able to see the land as I'm flying over it. A regular patchwork of rectangular farm fields and roads on the high plateau of Colorado gave way to the earth all crumpled up on itself and winding roads through the mountains. Greens turned greener as we passed over the mountains, and there were even some white capped peaks; eventually the colors became the unmistakable browns of the desert. Our arrival in El Paso was greeted by overcast skies and the the Bienvenudo a El Paso sign on the airport roof.
An eager cab driver grabbed my bags before I was totally aware that he wasn't intending to steal them, and we headed to Casa. It was lunch time when I arrived, so people weren't all crazy with citas. I met my fellow interns, only three others are here right now. One is getting ready to leave soon, and the other two have been here a week. No one is quite as green as I was last year. I understand that there are 30 births on the books for this month, and only one had happened before I arrived. I hope that all the 29 others and some from July will come while I'm here.