Thursday, January 27, 2011

'Car'rying on. Oh god that's terrible.

So I failed 3 stations at the OSCEs. Ah well, no biggie, and I know where I went wrong so when the retakes come round (hopefully March) I will breeze through them. I say no biggie, but obviously I was devastated, having never failed an exam in my life. But I pulled myself up by my - erm...what is it I'm supposed to pull myself up by? Bootstraps? Jockstraps? - whatevers, and got on with the business of getting the work and home bits of my life sorted out.

The exciting news for me at the moment is that I'm attempting to buy a car. I say attempting, since the fact that I'm new to Canada means that I have no credit history, so I might as well be a newborn baby as far as the financiers of this country are concerned. But when Isaac arrived here from Ontario in the Kia it was showing signs of exhaustion and has subsequently decided to take a little *ahem* rest from driving. Two people in Canada with only one car - when one is working full time - just doesn't work. Poor Isaac has been literally stuck in the house for a week (particularly since I was gone for pretty much 3 days straight when dealing with the hardest labour I've ever had) because this country is just not set up for pedestrians. Public transport? What's that?! And on top of that this is the worst winter for snow that they've had in Edmonton for around 20+ years and the fact that I have to be able to get anywhere at any time of the day or night no matter what the weather or road conditions, means that I need to have a safe and reliable vehicle.

To that end, the one I've chosen is a VW Tiguan. The bottom line for me is that it is a) awesome b) classy c) very safe and reliable and d) a Volkswagen. I just love them. I always have. And having owned a Golf and, to a lesser extent, my Polo, I know that they just do the job. They do it well and they go on for EVER. I am well aware that I can get another car for a bit less money. But this one had my heart, my head and all my other organs, so [blows raspberry]. Oh and a SIX year comprehensive warranty, FOUR years roadside assistance and an incredible TWELVE year anti-rust guarantee. Oh and it goes like the proverbial shit off the proverbial shovel. Plus, since I am now earning good money, and couldn't buy a house right now anyway (no credit history thing plus no down payment) I really want to have SOMETHING that I love and am proud of, particularly since I will be using it all the time. So at present we have submitted an offer and paid a deposit on a 2009 fully loaded Tiguan at a dealership in Edmonton and Isaac's mum - gawd bless her heart - has agreed to be a co-signer in order for me to try to get the finance sorted. With my income, and her excellent credit score, we hope it will be enough to secure me the car. Hopefully I'll be able to take her name off once I have a year or so of prompt payments under my belt, and I'll be able to build up my own credit score so I don't need to go through this hassle in future. If it all works out, I promise to post pictures!

I just realised I never blogged about Christmas. Well I won't tell the whole story now, since it would take ages, but suffice to say that my sister Jenny and her boyfriend James flew out to Ontario to spend Christmas with us and it was AMAZING. We skied and snowboarded, we snowtubed, we hot tubbed, we snowshoed, bought lots of coats and warm clothing (including two FABULOUS old fur coats* for Jen and myself), we had nights in and and out, and amazing meals (Jenny & I cooked on Christmas day and, though I say it myself, it was a triumph) and I was very sad to see them go. Hopefully they can come out and visit again very soon over here in Alberta. Secretly, I hope they enjoy themselves so much they want to emigrate here! Photos from the trip can be found here.

*I know the arguments. I sort of agree. But living out here with the kind of temperatures you can experience does change your view somewhat. I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole thing or how often I'll wear it, but I bought it anyway. So there.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

...and now back to work.

Okay the OSCEs could have been worse. Most of them I felt I did well in and will have passed - one or two I was even told as much by the examiner. There are 3 or 4 that are in question - I made a silly minor error here, blanked on what they were trying to get at there, but I think it's all down to the individual examiner as to how harsh they are. I imagine I'll be back for retakes in the Spring, mainly because most people have to retake on or two sections. But I'll know where I went wrong and I'll damn well not make the same mistake again!

In the meantime, word has got out that there's a new midwife in town (we're a rare commodity!) and, following a flurry of activity, I now have a fairly decent caseload going on. Hurray!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Being practical

Hello! As I write I am sat in the Super8 in Calgary (which I don't recommend one little bit incidentally) revising for my OSCEs - Objective Simulated Clinical Examinations - tomorrow. This is basically a whole day of being shoved into a room with a clinical scenario and having to deal with it, just to prove that you can. Some of them are emergency situations - I'm anticipating shoulder dystocia, post-partum haemorrhage, undiagnosed breech and neonatal resuscitation - and the others are likely to be normal clinical skills, such as an abdominal palpation, suturing or a neonatal examination, and yet others will be discussions on subjects such as vitamin K administration, metabolic screening and circumcision. They use real women where possible/appropriate (I assume shoulder dystocia would be on a model!) so that does help a bit I suppose, but I HATE doing these kind of exams. It's funny, the actual clinic skills I have no problem with and feel confident when I'm in a real situation, but having someone in a room watching, and critiquing, your every move is horrible. My tendency is to try to rush through things and in the process to forget something important, so I'm going to focus on breathing deeply and relaxing wherever possible. I did a practice session yesterday and was relieved to find that I did generally remember things - I was also relieved that everyone else was as nervous, and some were less experienced, than me. Anyway, we get 10 scenarios and have to pass at least 8 of them, 6 of which are mandatory. I can retake individual scenarios if I do fall to pieces ;-)

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 29, 2010

This explains a lot...

I have an addendum to a previous post: when I had my leaving do from Treetops, my Aussie boss, Mike confessed to me that he had been telling every customer for months that I was also Australian and that I loved to be asked about my home country as I was homesick. Although there were still days he wasn't at work that I was asked about being an Aussie, so I know it wasn't all down to him, it certainly does explain why some people were so damned convinced about my heritage. What an Ausshole!

The great confessional

Much has happened since my last post and I make no apologies for not prioritising writing about it, since I've been too busy living it.

I mentioned, almost in passing, a while back that I'd been accepted into the International Midwifery Preregistration Programme (IMPP) in Toronto. I went to the orientation day back in July and began work on a series of distance modules prior to the official start in September. However, I was chatting to my lovely friend Megan, who you may or may not remember had been my student back in London when she was training to be a midwife before coming home to Canada, and she told me that her midwifery partner Gaelyn and her had decided that I should come and work with them in Edmonton, Alberta. For those of you unfamiliar with Canadian geography, that's around 3,500kms away from where we live in Ontario. The idea of working with Megan certainly appealed to me (as did living only a 3 hour drive from Banff) I looked into what would happen if I completed the IMPP and then moved - long story short it was a bureaucratic nightmare. The Ontario system is set up so that you don't become a fully fledged midwife until at least 6-12 months after you finish your training and so you're effectively tied to the province until then. Since it was going to take 6-9 months to complete the course itself, this would delay any move for at least a year and quite possibly more. Hmmm.

I decided to look at what the requirements for registering directly in Alberta were instead. It turns out the only things that Alberta required was a midwifery qualification (a UK one would do) minimum of 60 births in the past 5 years and to take, and pass, a practical and written exam. As luck would have it, despite not having practised for 3 years, I still had over 60 births in the previous 2 under my belt. This wouldn't be the case for long so I had to get on it asap. I got all the required paperwork together - oh it sounds so easy but really it wasn't! - and applied: I was accepted to sit the exams. A quirk of the system meant that if you are judged eligible to sit the exams, you can actually begin practising on a restricted licence with a named Supervisor straight away. Crazy but true.

Having by now dropped out of the IMPP, I packed up all my stuff and Isaac and I drove across Canada - staying, by some miracle, ahead of the winter weather - we arrived in Edmonton two weeks ago. We actually had a brief stop off in Banff, which was a fabulous trip down memory lane and even included meeting up with friends, Andrew and JK, who were back for another ski season working at Lake Louise. We made a quick stop at Sunshine Village, which was not yet open, to pay homage to where it all began for us. It was a lovely interlude, but sadly I got ill on the second day there and spent a rather hellish couple of days shivering and puking while we headed north via Calgary.

We immediately launched into looking for a place to live and found a lovely 3 bed house very close to Megan and her husband Craig in Leduc, just south of Edmonton. Isaac flew back a week ago to Ontario where he'll remain, looking after our house and Tiger the cat, until after Christmas. I've remained in Edmonton, staying with Megan and Craig, preparing to move into our new house in a week's time. I've spent the last week calling and arranging to meet my new clients, and even attended my first birth in over 3 years as back up for Gaelyn. It was a home waterbirth, which will happily be the large majority of my work here. I'm flying back to Ontario to spend Christmas with Isaac's family and my sister Jenny and her boyfriend James, who are flying out from the UK to visit. I'm flying back here at the beginning of January and Isaac will drive back out with his friend Matt and his brother Reilly, so we have both our cars out here in Alberta, then Isaac will be joining me here permanently.

So that's pretty much where we are up to now. I'm loving living in Alberta again - I like living out in what amounts to suburbia but close enough to a city to have access to all a city has to offer: I'm 15 minutes from Ikea and the South Edmonton Common retail park, including the Gap Factory Store (where I indulged in a spending spree when I got my first paycheque the other day). I'm really enjoying being back in midwifery (bit nervous too) and I'm excited about our new house! I can't wait to see Jen & James at Christmas and I'm really looking forward to having real money to spend on people's presents for the first time since 2006. Such a relief.

So apologies for once again just having a 'I did this, then I did this, then I'm doing this' kinda post. I'd rather just be musing on ideas and throwing around the one liners, but I don't get to do this as often as I'd like and blah de blah de blah. Which brings me on to...

While I'm spilling my guts about things I would also like to admit a rather shameful secret: I've been Twittering for a few weeks. At first I told no one and happily tweeted just to myself. Then, the other day, my nephew Benj found me - not sure how - and began 'following' me. A few more people (strangers!) followed suit. So I thought I'd come clean and if you feel like following my random thoughts then look for @midwifemia. No obligation though, it is of course merely the whitterings of a madwife.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall and land

Was that really my last post? Shameful. After all that gumph I wrote about promising to do less facebooking and more blogging. I really am full of shit, aren't I?

As a matter of fact I am halfway through a draft posting about our holiday in England so I'll get a shimmy on that one and finish it. And so much else has happened in the meantime! In the meantime, I just wanted to say that today I watched a float plane land on a Canadian lake, with a backdrop of the most fantabulous array of Autumn colours I've ever seen. That, I said emphatically to Isaac, is the Canada I expected, the Canada I came to see. Wonderful. On that note I'll disappear back into the information superhighway, as once we called this internet malarkey. Hopefully I'll be with you again in a jiffy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


As usual, it's taken me a while to get round to writing this one up. If only I was willing to précis everything it might be easier, but goddamnit I always want to tell you everything.

So. At the end of August, Isaac & I flew to England for a two week holiday, cleverly planned around a) my sister Toni's wedding and b) my having a crown done. The former had been planned for some time of course, whereas the latter was something I had recently been trying to fit in and around the wedding, necessitating, as it does, two visits to the dentist with a gap in between. The crown was something that had needed doing for a while - I won't bore you with the story but I had one tooth that was, by now, merely a shell full of composite, and I was expecting every mouthful of every meal to 'do for it', as it were. The crown had been recommended before I went to New Zealand, but since I had neither the time nor the funds at that point, I had been babysitting it ever since. Dentistry is notoriously expensive in Canada (along with mobile phones; groceries; car insurance and every other sodding thing I have to buy) and the same crown would have cost me somewhere in the region of $3000 to have done here, whereas I paid 'just' £400 n the UK (around $650 CAD currently) so the saving was considerable.

We flew in to Gatwick to be met by my dad and we made a stop off at his allotment on the way home to pick up some beans, courgettes and a few cornflowers. In the coming days we managed to catch up with Sophie and Dan (for the first time since they officially became Mr & Mrs), have the obligatory Pizza Express (oh Lordy how I've missed you), go to the Wings & Wheels show at Dunsfold Park, which was AMAZING - see pics here - have a great lunch with Raquel, Darren and Aaron, and take a walk along the tow path next to the Thames from Kingston to Hampton Court, all in the glorious warm sunshine. Ha - take THAT, those who think it rains all the time in England.

On 31st August I went to the dentist in the morning to have my temporary crown fitted. At one point I swear the dentist had both hands and at least one of his feet in my mouth. Back home for Jacqui's homemade courgette soup (Isaac: 'I don't think I'll like that, I'm not a big fan of zucchini.' Me: 'Well just try a spoonful of mine and see what you think'. Cut to Isaac eating THREE bowls of the stuff) and then the train up to London. I told Isaac we were going to go to Harrods, which of course he'd never heard of. He kept saying 'Why are we going to a department store? I'm don't even like shopping that much.' I told him to wait and see, and of course when we got there, he saw exactly why. We had fun visually devouring the food halls and looked at all the expensive stuff we'll never be able to afford, like a £10,000 toy car and a £45,000 gun. Then we hopped on a bus up Piccadilly and went to the studios of Absolute Radio, where Geoff Lloyd had just started his show. I've been a huge Geoff Show fan for years so I decided to take him up on his oft quoted offer to 'just drop in and visit us if you're passing'.

We were welcomed to the studio by the security guard while I explained that we were just visiting. The moment I heard his voice I realised it was none other than Martin the Security Guard, regular contributor to the Geoff Show. I behaved like a proper fan and asked if I could get my photo taken with him. He was lovely, though shy, and complied, then got Nelson the producer to come down and take us up to the studio. Isaac had never been in a radio studio before and was struck dumb, so it was left to me to do all the talking for once. Shame. Geoff, Annabel and Nelson - my constant driving companions via podcast in Canada - were consummate hosts and we spent 2 hours watching them put the show together, which was delightful and exciting for me at least. I even contributed one sentence to the show: 'Yeah, me too, I get very confused'. We left when the show was almost over and took the bus up to Leon's at Ludgate Circus, the traditional get-together location for Guy, Chris, Debbie and I - Jonathan and Janet were unable to make it sadly - and we had a fab meal and it was all over too quickly as usual. That's the most frustrating thing about living abroad: when you do meet up with friends back home you have to squish a year's worth of friendship into a few short hours, and you always leave unsatisfied. Sigh.

The following morning we headed up to London again to take the train from Kings Cross up to Hull, where we were met by my sister Jenny. She was putting us up again, and had planned all sorts of exciting activities around Toni's wedding, on the Saturday. We had a grand day out at Flamingoland, where we rode every roller coaster including Mumbo Jumbo, the 'World's Steepest Roller Coaster', 112 degrees dontcha know, which we rode twice, and Kumali, which was our favourite and we rode three times. We visited the self-styled 'Strangest Place in the World' - the Forbidden Corner - which was indeed very strange and well worth the beautiful drive through the North Yorkshire countryside. We also had numerous delicious meals. More than that, I spent the entire week in hysterics - Jenny and I have always been able to reduce each other to a heap on the floor with little more than a well-timed glance. It was great to spend some time with her, her boyfriend (and Isaac's official English Dad) James, and my niece Mini-Me, oh sorry, Liddi, before she heads off for a few months travelling, starting in New Zealand the lucky beggar.

The wedding was the main focus for the holiday of course, and on the day, Jenny and I picked up the flowers and balloons (plain red hearts), dropped off the bridal bouquet and buttonholes, drove to the golf club where the reception was taking place and decorated all the tables. Then we drove back home where Toni was meeting us, and we all got ready in between eating smoked salmon and bagels, as is traditional. The wedding was lovely and no one fell over or shouted anything rude, which is always a relief. The reception was beautifully decorated *ahem*, and the playlist had been designed by my sister's new husband Rob before he even asked her out, or so he told us during his speech. That sounded sweet and romantic of course because they DID end up getting married but he was lucky - if she had never agreed to go out with him that might just sound like a stalker! Various people got rather drunk, others got rather drunker. Some very funny things happened, but most of them are best retold elsewhere, where one can do the accompanying funny voices and/or walks. Anyway, suffice to say, everyone had fun.

Eventually it was time to head back down to Surrey; train again. The dentist replaced my temporary crown with a proper one (I had a tooth again!) and I even managed a curry at the Hussain, my favourite curry house in the world. Oh that bhindi bhaji! And my final walk around Waitrose almost had me in tears: so much food I wanted still to eat; so little time.

So caught up a little here, making no promises for the future since I always seem to break them, but have much more to tell...

Monday, August 16, 2010


Hurray, I'm famous! Oh hang on...