It was 1979. I was in my last semester of college browsing the bookstore. The book Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms caught my attention and I was changed forever. I was naturally aligned with the ideas in this book and I knew I was to walk in the childbirth field, a field of ancient arts, women, midwives, human rights, activism, and timeless wisdom.
The world of nature, magic, truth, and justice was my realm. In childhood, animals, rocks, and bugs were always important; I sought them and collected many. As I grew I yearned to hear the voices of the downtrodden, victims of social injustice, the weak, the sick, the voiceless.
After college I had seasonal work with Colorado Outward Bound. I led a high school group to Mexico, sailed Belize for three months, was a Colorado horse ranch hand, assistant manager of a natural foods store, an apprentice with midwives in Missouri, and potato sorter on The Farm in Tennessee. I was a barista in Santa Fe, and lone caretaker of a mining claim at an altitude of 9,000 ft, 12 miles from the road, off the grid for four months. During these adventuresome years I sought out midwives and progressive families everywhere I went. I read voraciously and studied hard. I was invited along the way to “coach” or assist at homebirths.
While helping at a birth above Aspen, the midwife left for a bit during a long labor. I was the only one present with any knowledge, albeit small, and Mom looked at me and said, “This baby is coming.” Her eyes shone and she had a luminous quality about her. I remained calm and managed the roomful of people, trying to exude Peace and Love, and find calm in my racing brain and heart. The baby arrived. I placed her on Mother’s belly. The placenta came and the bleeding began. I had only book knowledge of the physiology of birth, and calmly, but with authority, asked the Mother’s friend to suckle on her breast to help the uterus contract. Baby was resting. The bleeding stopped. The room was joyous. The birth angel watched over us. I was 21.
It has always been inherent in me, to respect nature, and to know that the design of childbirth is perfect. I married Tom, had four homebirths, and during that time taught my own and a midwife’s childbirth classes. My favorite classes were made up of home, hospital, and birth center couples/singles. I shared risks and benefits of each location and good conversations ensued. Sometimes they changed their birth place. I have always had respect for mothers choosing what is right for them. Where do they feel safest giving birth? No one size fits all. There are too many complexities at work: emotions, fear, trauma, grief, a couple’s relationship, self-trust, and misinformation, to just name a few. I cannot ever purport to know what is best for anyone else. I do know that love, peace, and respect help support this grand design. I led La Leche League meetings for three years.
I volunteered as a Doula at a Milwaukee hospital for several months. I spent 12 hours thought each Saturday night, in scrubs, attending nurses’ shift change meetings, and assisted where needed. I witnessed loving care as well as cruel and abusive care. I witnessed outstanding care at the hands of physicians as well as much harm. Observing the hierarchy of the nursing staff, residents, and attending physicians, helped me understand my M.D. husband better. It also illustrated why teaching hospitals sometimes have the worst childbirth outcome statistics.
In the 90’s I attended a new direct entry midwifery school in Madison, Wisconsin that had an innovative 80% experiential learning model. I apprenticed locally in Wisconsin and I attended births of all risk levels at Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Jamaica with Shari Daniel. In Madison I assisted with the next class of midwifery students. The head of the school asked me to partner in her homebirth practice which I did for a year and then had my own practice for two years. I taught classes for my own clients. After 20 years and nearly 300 births, I walked away from my calling.
In 2012 our grandson was born at home. My daughter-in-law, an airline pilot, had a precipitous delivery with substantial blood loss. She then developed a vaginal hematoma requiring weeks of bed rest. She had excellent, skilled clinical care. I stayed with them for weeks and balanced many roles: in-law, mother, grandmother, postpartum doula, and former midwife. While I have forgotten many facts, I was overjoyed to discover a luminous glow of instinct and knowledge living inside of me. With this renewed inspiration I choose to teach again.
I believe that Birthworks’ experiential, interactive approach to teaching, addresses the complex needs of adult learners. I appreciate the Professional Standards of Practice and am aligned with the Statement of Beliefs. I love the academic and emotional content of the curriculum. I was an average educator, although student evaluations were great. I want to be an excellent teacher and I believe that with BirthWorks, I can fulfill this goal.