Aghadrumsee woman, Pauline Brogan is on the brink of having her career aspirations finally realised.
In August she will qualify as a staff midwife, signifying many years of work to achieve a hard-fought dream.
For a long time though, Pauline chalked her midwifery dreams down to an unattainable hope, despite always having a passion for it from a very young age.
“Through different life events I had to come to college at a later stage than most,” she says, “I never thought it would ever happen for me, and now I am only five months away from finishing.”
Pauline first started studying a course in Fermanagh College, taking on Biology again to improve on the B she had achieved in school.
“I wanted to make sure Queen’s couldn’t refuse me!” she says.
Although she applied for midwifery in 2014, she wasn’t successful and had to wait another year before finding out she had a place on the course.
“I had three children at home,” says Pauline, “The morning I had dropped my youngest child off to play school for the first time was the morning I got the phone call to say I had got in. I remember coming back home and the house was eerily quiet -- you could have heard a pin drop and I thought: ‘What am I going to do now?’. Then I got the call. It’s as if it was fate - it was meant to be.”
In order to facilitate her three years of study, Pauline’s husband changed jobs.
“He is so supportive. He knew this was something that I have always wanted. And I am so grateful to him for giving up something that he loved in order that I could follow this dream.”
The end may be in sight for Pauline, but it has been a long road, particularly with a young family at home.
“I try to be a positive role model for my children. I hope some day they will see how hard I worked to get to this point - that when you put in the work you will reap the rewards.”
She is mindful that her young family have had to make sacrifices to allow her to complete her studies.
“I know that although they are young it is something they will still remember at the same time - we have had to sacrifice so much, but it is a short term plan for the bigger picture.
“My youngest son has a very interesting take on what a midwife is. He asked me one day: ‘Mummy, who is in the car with you when you are out delivering babies?’
“He has taken the term ‘delivering babies’ literally and thinks that I am a postwoman dropping off babies at people’s houses!”
In reality though, Pauline says the job is so much more than just ‘delivering babies’.
“It’s a vocation. It is hard work but it is worth it.
“My mentors have played a huge role in my training.
“I try to take a piece of each of them - all their different qualities, and use all of that to reflect back on my own practice.
“It is incredible to watch them as they work. Many of them are close to retirement age now, and when they go, they will take such a huge blanket of knowledge with them. I have learned so much more from them than I could ever have learned in a lecture.”
Pauline says the greatest appeal of the job is that she is able to be an advocate for mothers.
“You are working in partnership with them, being there for them, and supporting them through a vulnerable time in their lives.
“It is a privilege to be a part of anybody’s birth and seeing new life coming into the world.
“I remember the first birth that I was present for. I had one job: to get the time, but I couldn’t see the clock for the tears!”
Looking ahead to her future, Pauline says she always wants to be a ‘hands-on midwife’.
“I just thoroughly enjoy the clinical end of things - I can’t see myself wanting to be in a managerial or office role. Once I am qualified I will be hospital based to start with, but I do like the community end of things too and long term, I think that is where I would eventually like to be.
“It offers the opportunity to be with women the whole way throughout the pregnancy and after baby is born, to get to know the women and their families and ultimately see them as a family unit.
“I really feel for the husbands when it comes to the time for baby to arrive - they feel so helpless - it is written all over their faces.
“I like to get them to tell the mother the gender of their baby -- it gives them a role.”
Pauline hopes she will be placed at South West Acute Hospital once she is qualified.
“That is the ideal goal, because of its feasibility and travelling. This is where I have done my training - I know the place and the people here know me.
“But I will just have to wait and see.”