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Jane Crawford Peterson
In the spring of 1978 I was a high school biology teacher, single and contemplating graduate school at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Several of my friends were having their first children. They were concerned about some of the childbirth protocols in local hospitals and decided to form a group in order to educate themselves about the birthing process and explore all of their possible options. I was teaching human physiology and had taken a special interest in genetics in college, so I came to the group to offer the knowledge I had in those areas. Birth educators, healthcare providers, and two midwives from several hours away came to speak to the group.

As the birth group unfolded, each couple asked me to be present at their birth as a friend and a support person. These mothers and babies were my first teachers, my beginning, and I learned a great deal in helping these dear friends have their children. Alone, on a windy November day in 1979, I helped a baby boy be born, into my own hands, for the first time. His precious cry, his first breath, my first catch will be with me always and perhaps the most important knowledge I gained through that experience was that there was a great deal more to know.

In 1980 I began an apprenticeship with a midwife from Hawaii who had moved to this area. She stayed for 10 months before the Wisconsin winter drove her back to the islands, but my gestation as a midwife had ended, and in January of 1981 I attended a midwifery training program in Dallas, Texas and worked in a clinic doing 20-30 birth per month. At the end of this program, my decision was made and I returned back home to rural Wisconsin, where I began my practice as a midwife.

In August of 1982 I married, and in 1984 our first child, Ilsa was born. During her infant months I reduced my birth schedule and completed work on establishing a certification process in our state. Over the next six years I experienced three second trimester miscarriages, all at home. In June of 1990 our second child, Tobin, was born. He was born with a complex chromosomal abnormality and lived for only eight days. In my largest leap of faith, knowing our chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy baby were small, we welcomed another pregnancy. In August of 1992 we greeted our third child, Tamas. He was born in our bedroom, as all our children had been. He was healthy and strong. We were deeply grateful and incredibly happy!!

I have attended over 1330 births in my years as a midwife. My practice ebbs and flows around my family and the needs of the community. At present I accept five or six births a month, taking at least one month off per year, trying to create a balance as mother, wife and midwife.

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