The long path from preschool to midwifery…

The long path from preschool to midwifery. There and back again.

As a young girl I could not get enough of playing with small children. They delighted me like nothing else. I would go down to the neighbor’s house to help with her new baby. I started babysitting at age 13 for 4 kids from newborn to age 6.  I worked in a day care center starting at age 14, I was hooked on kids! In college I changed my major from vocal music to Spanish to Early Childhood Education.  I was going to teach pre-school forever!

However; there was one pivotal moment when my world changed, everything turned upside down, I wasn’t so sure about teaching forever anymore.  That moment was when my first son was born.  As I arrived at the hospital to give birth my angelic labor nurse smiled and then her eyes nearly popped out of her face when she realized I was very close to giving birth.  In those moments I knew that I knew I was called to work with women in their own birth experiences.  There were no drum rolls, no clarity as to how to accomplish this, just a deep feeling inside me that my life was now on a different path!  Oh, but I still loved all children from the depths of my heart!

So, how does one get from there to here? That’s a great question!  Since I was mommy first, I picked the quickest path at that time; become a licensed practical nurse. Back then (when dinosaurs roamed the planet) LPNs were the primary one at the bedside, the ones who supported women as they labored and helped them one-on-one.  That’s what I wanted! I didn’t want to be the “pill-pusher RN who pushed that med cart around” Oh to be young and naïve!  As nursing evolved, rumors spread that only Registered Nurses would be doing my job. So as a mom of four with another on the way I got my Associates Degree in Nursing.  I wasn’t going to be demoted from my duties!

After 15 years of helping, loving, comforting and supporting thousands of women through labor I had come to realize that birth culture desperately needed to change!  I would work with a courageous woman for many hours, only to step aside when the savior physician arrived to quickly cut or force the baby out! I needed to be a midwife to accomplish change!

My five children needed to grow a bit before I undertook that challenge, so when my youngest son was age 8, I began the 3-year marathon of RN to BSN to CNM!  What a whirlwind, roller coaster, hurricane, arduous time! Was it worth it? Oh yeah it was! Now I could start to make changes in birth culture, one birth at a time.

Now, 21 years into this career, I have witnessed so many amazing births with literally every kind of emotion that exists! Joy, pain, sorrow, fear, love.  But there is one moment I eagerly anticipate in every birth, one sublime moment in time when each woman fully faces the task before her and makes the choice to enter in.

Most women probably never realize when that moment comes, or how it looks. It can be quiet, turned inward, intense, loud, screaming at the entire universe!  There is no rule!  But I see it happen in every birth, the moment when each woman realizes in herself that no one else can birth her baby, that she must move forward, that only she has the power to accomplish this amazing event, when she makes the choice to do it, to cross the threshold into motherhood, sacrificing all of herself for that baby, to give up all her control to the madness of expelling this wonder of life. This is when the “game face” appears, her determination rises up, and she experiences the miracle of birthing part of herself and yet wholly a new person too!

As I am privileged to be “with woman” at that moment, I am completely, 100%, a midwife!  And I still adore all my babies too!