I am trying to become better at accepting that there are things I cannot know until I do them. Veterinary medicine is full of opportunities to experience something new. For me, palpating and pregnancy checking cattle was DEFINITELY something new. The vet I was working with tried to prepare me for the experience. I donned my coveralls and rubber overalls to attempt to shield myself from the guaranteed mess that awaited me. With my rectal palpation glove securely clipped to my shoulder sleeve, I felt as ready as I’d ever be.
I learned as I went. The vet would palpate first and I would follow, telling her what I felt as she navigated me through the cow’s insides, feeling the pelvis, uterus, ovaries, cervix and fetus. I learned how to age the pregnancy based on the size of the cotyledons, but even as I gained experience, I lacked confidence in my abilities.
In the middle of a check, the vet had to step away from the chute to take a phone call. The client and my fellow workers looked at me, encouraging me to give them “my best guess” as to whether she was pregnant and, if so, how far along in her pregnancy. My eyes widened and, with only 30 minutes of prior experience, I inserted my arm into the cow. I believed her to be pregnant and slightly later term than most of the other cows I had palpated. When the vet returned, she confirmed my determination and congratulated me. I felt accomplished, and it confirmed that I can never be an expert if I’m too afraid to be a beginner. After all, you’ve gotta start somewhere.